Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wash. Post Lied to Readers About Max Baucus & His Health Care Reform

The Super massive Black Hole at the Center of our Galaxy

Back on May 18, 2009, Perry Bacon Jr. participated as the Washington Post's representative in their Post Politics Hour discussion. At one point during that discussion Mr. Bacon was asked about single-payer health coverage and this was his response:

Perry Bacon Jr.: The Post is not covering single-payer (like the rest of the media) because the President of the United States has repeatedly ruled it out as an option. I wrote recently about a meeting he had with some House Democrats who were pushing the issue and he again said no

So there you have it - our media corporations are censoring information crucial to the public discussion about health care reform simply because the government doesn't support it. 

Whether this censorship is self-censorship by our corporate controlled media or whether it's due to government pressure is unknown. But the results are clear - rather than reporting all of the facts to the public, our establishment media is instead tailoring it's reporting to support the president's view on health care just like they've been tailoring their reporting to fit the president's view that there should be no criminal prosecutions for torture.

Today the Washington Post continues their policy of not reporting about single-payer health care. Not only didn't they mention single-payer health care in the Shailagh Murray/Ceci Connolly piece about Senator Max Baucus but because they didn't, they out and out lied to their readers about what they call "the Baucus approach to health care reform." 


For Baucus, Health Care is the Issue of a Lifetime
Legislation Could Define His Career, His Party.  

The Washington Post says in the above headline that health care is the issue of a lifetime for Senator Baucus. That may be, but for average Americans, the health care reform debate is not about selfishly polishing our legacy or defining our career, it's about getting quality, affordable health care where we are not at the mercy of the greedy health insurance industry. And unlike Mr. Baucus, for some Americans this truly is an issue of a lifetime - their lifetime- a lifetime that frequently gets cut short because of the greed of others. In view of the seriousness of this issue for so many average Americans it is especially galling to see the Post deliberately lie about and hide key facts in this article.

The majority of the Murray/Connolly article attempts to rehabilitate the well deserved, bad reputation that Democratic Senator, Max Baucus has earned for not supporting Democratic principles on high profile issues. Murray and Connolly actually go out of their way in their piece to give readers the impression that Senator Baucus is a western maverick who gets in trouble with his party only because he sticks up for principle and because of his strong belief in bi-partisanship. They of course fail to tell the readers that Senator Baucus is a darling of the health care insurance and pharmaceutical industries and that he has received enormous amounts of campaign donations from these players because of his strong support for their agenda - you know something that readers might want to know about when deciding whether they should believe what he says about health care reform issues.  

But this omission of relevant facts about Senator Baucus' background is a small lie compared with the blatant lie told by the Post about "the Baucus approach to health care reform." That lie is truly a whopper.

For more than a year, Baucus has schooled himself -- and many on the committee -- on the daunting complexities of the U.S. health-care system, a sector that represents one-sixth of the economy. His approach has been to pull together stakeholders and hold them as long as possible; no idea is ruled outno policy change dismissed.   

This statement by Murray and Connolly that was approved for publication by the Post is just factually false.  In fact, it’s a bald-faced lie. Max Baucus ruled out the idea that there should be a policy change to a single-payer system for health care before the discussion even began. Not only did he rule out the idea but he and the rest of the Committee made sure that not one representative who supported the idea of single-payer, that incidentally the majority of the public supports, would even be allowed to sit on the panel of so called  “stakeholders” who testified before the Committee. 

 But these groups had a seat at the table:

  1. The insurance industry was at the table.
  2.  The Business Roundtable was at the table.
  3. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce of Commerce was at the table.
  4. Blue Cross Blue Shield was at the table.
  5. The Hertiage Foundation was at the table
  6. Corporate liberals like Andy Stern, Ron Pollack, and AARP were at the table.

Baucus and his Committee, like the Washington Post, were determined that the pubic would not even so much as hear about the idea of single-payer much less that the idea would be given fair consideration in the debate to reform health care.

When  nurses and doctors protested this undemocratic exclusion of  not having a spokesperson, who supported the single-payer view, represented on the Baucus health care reform panel the Washington Post didn’t even bother to run their own story about it. Instead they ran a small AP piece that was hostile to single-payer (they characterized it as “government run” health care) that gave very few details about what actually happened and why. And now today the Post is once again failing to inform their readers about relevant facts because of their policy not to report on single-payer.

Max Baucus excludes single-payer representatives from having a seat at the table for discussion on health care reform and instead of being challenged by the Washington Post, as he should have been, he is awarded with a puff piece by them designed to enhance his reputation because the Post sees itself not as a watchdog for the public but as a propaganda mouthpiece for the president’s “protect the insurance industry” agenda. And sadly, the Post is not alone. The majority of our establishment media are doing the exact same thing, as this study by FAIR documents.

The establishment media censorship of single-payer is more in line with the kind of propaganda we'd expect from Pravda then it is with what we'd expect from a FREE PRESS that historically prided itself on serving the democratic principle of the public's right to know. In this Washington Post piece today the readers are delibertately lied to about Max Baucus in order to continue with the Post's policy of not reporting about single-payer. For a country like the United States that fancies itself as the world's leading democracy, fully capable of spreading democracy around the world,  this is an absolute disgrace.

Cross Posted at Oxdown Gazette

Update: I also found this hilarious yet depressing chat answer in another Washington Post discussion where Garance Fanke-Ruta refers a questioner from Princeton (who's asking about single-payer) to Ceci's Connolly's blog. Yeah, the very same Ceci Connolly who helped write today's Max Baucus piece where she and Murray lied about "the Baucus approach to health care reform."

Princeton, N.J.: You may think single-payer health care has no chance. But this will be a self-fulfilling prophecy if the facts are not available to the people.

We see article after article on process, but never any discussion of content. Since the wealthy health insurance industry has the power to suppress the facts, we only have the media, you, to get the truth out.

Garance Franke-Ruta: Thanks for your faith in the power of the fourth estate! One good place to get more of the substance of the debate is our new Health Reform 2009 aggregating page and Ceci Connolly's Daily Dose blog:


  1. I agree 100%! Yes, the Post HAS become Pravda. This is no longer America.

  2. The Washington Post is trying to woo me back into their readership numbers by dropping off a free copy on my door step once in a while. I am so sick of their lies and spin that I use the paper under the cat bowl.

    PBS Frontline showed two documentaries "Sick around the world" (5 countries), and "Sick around America". The reporter for the first report (T.R. Reid) was forced out of the second, and has now become an advocate for single-payer. A first step at reform would be to have a public option competing with the private system we now have, with the important distinction that essential/primary/comprehensive health care should be NOT FOR PROFIT, thereby depriving the private system of its profit-making incentive of DENYING care. Switzerland's health care system is administered privately but the care they provide is non-profit. They can't deny essential/primary/comprehensive care. As a bone to the private system, let them charge a profit for elective care. And then we will get single-payer.


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