Nick Benton's Corner: "Kennedy Option Plan"

Posted with permission from Nick Benton, owner/editor of the Falls Church News Press.

It's hardly worth wasting the ink to say so, but shame on you, Washington Post, for whorishly pandering to those who would disrupt and derail health care reform by your choice of the photograph used of Tuesday's town hall meeting hosted by Rep. Jim Moran and former DNC Chair Howard Dean in Northern Virginia.

There were 3,000 people there, including hundreds outside the packed-solid high school gym, and almost everyone there was a bonafide resident of, if not Moran's own district, at least of Northern Virginia. For better or worse, they were real constituents who were very vocal and rowdy. There were robust constituencies both pro and con the issue of health care reform and the so-called "public option." But by the way, unlike what the Post wrote, there were not "'Don't Tread on Me' flags." There was one.

But for its choice of photographs, the Post made no attempt to capture all that and used one of a professional rabble rouser who announced beforehand he intended to attend the town hall solely for the purpose of disrupting it. And disrupt it he did. The moment Howard Dean stood up to speak, this provocateur and a gaggle of his devotees stood up from their seats in the center of the gym floor and began shouting slogans that effectively shut Dean up.

The Post afforded this individual celebrity status by planting his contorted, yelling face atop its story of the event, giving the man exactly what he came there for.

This intervention was the one point, despite a cascade of hoots, boos and cat calls that persisted throughout the two-hour meeting, when dialogue and discourse was actually brought to a halt. Words like "murder" were heard uttered by this man and his followers.

(His is a relatively well-known name but I'll be damned if I am going to give him the benefit of repeating it here.)

So, who is fueling this nationwide effort to drown out the merits of genuine health care reform with nothing but shouts and disruptions? Looks like the Washington Post to me, and, of course many others in the mainstream media.

After all, involved in this effort to derail health care reform are two things: well-heeled, privileged suburbanites who think they've got it good now, and don't want to give up their perceived advantage over the poor and uninsured, and the health insurance industry, itself, and its Wall Street allies.

These two elements add up to a distinct minority of the U.S. population, but they wield influence way beyond their numbers by keeping politicians in their pockets and, oh yes, the media as well.

They know that not only do they lack the numbers, in terms of popular support for what true health care reform will bring, but they lack any plausible arguments against a plan that would extend affordable health care to all and bring costs down while allowing anyone who wants to, to continue their current coverage.

Lacking the substance to counter these features of a health care reform plan that includes a "public option," they resort to outrageous lies (too politely called "myths" by some) that their fouled-mouthed TV and radio commentators repeat, aimed at arousing fear and paranoia in the population, and the systematic disruption of reasonable debate and presentation of facts.

This is such a transparent and egregious undertaking to foil the will of the majority in America that it can hardly be hidden from public awareness. But alas, that's where the Post and its ilk come into play.

It, like any news organization pretending to be objective and fair (that does not include Fox News) walks a fine line, challenged with maintaining a modicum of credibility among its rapidly-shrinking reader base, while doing the bidding of its Wall Street-centered owners and shareholders, who demand more from them than a good return on investment, but an effective propaganda tool on behalf of their free market interests, as well.

I concur with those calling for naming real health care reform the "Kennedy Public Option Plan."

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