The Sound and the Fury: Reporting the Healthcare Debate
There’s too much sound and not enough light in the reportage of the town hall meetings on health care. Our ratings-driven media are focusing on action—screaming, yelling, shouting, waving signs—and failing to offset all that sound and fury by reporting the facts and correcting false information. As a result, the public is poorly served, and we’re seeing our elected leaders get torn apart, metaphorically speaking, by ill-informed people.
Missing from the U.S. healthcare discussion in our mass media: How do other developed nations fund their less expensive and more effective healthcare systems? What can we learn from their experience, and can we improve upon their experience? Why has the single payer option not been considered by Congress? How can the public interest prevail over special interests when it comes to fundamental quality-of-life issues? What are the underlying reasons for the fear so many people have about changing the status quo? How is it possible for people of presumably normal intelligence to believe appalling misrepresentations of the truth? Why do the media report those appalling misrepresentations without immediately refuting them? How can the public influence the mass media to improve reporting?
Perhaps most importantly, what would be a basic lexicon and set of facts on which we could build civil discourse about health care? This is where I’d like to see the Maryland Humanities Council go. Please consider sponsoring a public forum that could help define and clarify the issues—sooner rather than later!