Critical Condition

Irresponsible Journalism

AP apparently has a new op-ed writer named Steven Hurst. Somehow, his recent news analysis: “Health overhaul tactics need overhaul” was mislabelled as non-partisan journalism, but I’m sure it was an honest mistake. 

According to Hurst, “Republicans refuse to countenance further government involvement in health care” and thus, President Obama “struggles against a powerful wave of opposition to reforming the system.”

In addition, the existence of Democratic majorities “doesn’t explain the overwhelming complexity of bringing the United States in line with the world’s other wealthy democracies that guarantee health care to everyone.” This is because of the “so-called Blue Dog Democrats — a conservative wing of the party that in many ways shares reform reservations with Republicans.”

And so, “Americans have witnessed ugly and offensive attacks on the motives of Obama and those who support changing the system, even though it is held responsible for a majority of private bankruptcies in the world’s No. 1 economy.”

And despite the fact that the president is fighting against all odds for goodness and light, his desire to work with Congress and not impose his own words on the legislative process “opened the door for opponents inside and outside government to heap unfounded allegations on the reform process.”

As a result, Hurst concludes, “Such attacks on efforts to refashion health care have put Obama on the defensive, forced to debunk untrue claims and apparently losing ground in rethinking a system that has avoided a major overhaul for decades.”

To read Hurst, one would think that Republicans are implacably opposed to any kind of health reform, that President Obama has put forth an unassailable plan that will solve all of our health-care problems, and that any Republican objections are fictional and designed to put the president on the defensive and prevent us from getting the needed overhaul we deserve.

Hurst is wrong, and on multiple counts. Republicans may oppose President Obama’s plans, but that does not mean they oppose reform. It means they oppose this reform.

And they do so not out of a desire to harm the poor so much as they believe that the Obama approach, according to the non-partisan CBO — which goes unmentioned in the piece, unless it is the mysterious opponent within government Hurst alludes to — would not accomplish the president’s goals of providing universal access at lower cost. And their accusations are not all falsehoods, but are based on the text of the bills as writting.

As an op-ed, the AP piece is wrong-headed, but as journalism it is truly irresponsible.

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