As a lifelong member of the media—mainstream and otherwise—I’m still baffled by the coverage choices sometimes. Almost as much as I am by the increasingly histrionic reactions by the readers (users/viewers/whatever we call them now).
Remember the Bush-Kerry campaign? And how George W. Bush deftly managed to label John Kerry a flip flopper? The media—who seemed to dislike Kerry almost as much as they despise Mitt Romney—ran with it. Made for a good story. Or at least an easy one. And journalists are all about the path of least resistance.
(By the way, what is about candidates from Massachusetts? Or multimillionaires? Or is it just Bay State blue bloods?)
Either way, Romney out flip-flopped Kerry in a single debate—never mind the entire campaign—but that story’s gotten very little traction despite David Axelrod’s best efforts. In fact, it’s almost accepted as a mundane part of political life in the social media age. Which is all well and good because, honestly, what politician doesn’t change his position? If we’re being honest, you could argue Joe Biden and Paul Ryan both did their share of flip flopping during their debate as well. I’m more disturbed by the lack of storytelling here than the story itself.
(I can’t remember who brought it up first, but it would be nice to implement collegiate debate rules for the presidential face-offs. We certainly have the technology for faster fact-checking than ever before. At least it would give the moderators something better to do than pose as verbal road kill.)
And on the other end, we’ve got a top Obama adviser and fundraiser ’fessing up to death panels on the opinion pages of the New York Times a couple of weeks back. You could hear the crickets all the way on the other side of Joe Biden’s cackle.
Yeah, those same death panels that got Sarah Palin into so much trouble a few years back are the same ones we’re ignoring today.
“We need death panels,” Steven Rattner wrote. “Well, maybe not death panels, exactly, but unless we start allocating health-care resources more prudently—rationing, by its proper name—the exploding cost of Medicare will swamp the federal budget.”
And Rattner made no bones about who should jump to the head of the rationing line: old people.
“No one wants to lose an aging parent. And with price out of the equation, it’s natural for patients and their families to try every treatment, regardless of expense or efficacy. But that imposes an enormous societal cost that few other nations have been willing to bear. Many countries whose health care systems are regularly extolled—including Canada, Australia and New Zealand—have systems for rationing care,” he wrote.
Never mind your opinion of rationing—in principle or practice. How does it not garner at least a single news cycle today when it got Palin laughed out of the room four years ago? And how is Romney suddenly a savvy politician when eight years ago Kerry couldn’t be trusted?
(Speaking of which, has anyone asked Ryan what newspapers he reads? Or do we only ask girls? If so, what does Hillary read? I mean, besides travel magazines?)