Thursday, December 09, 2010

Media Matters: It's Only Slanting the News When We Don't Like It

Media Matters is a joke.

Ok, now that I've stated the obvious, here is the latest example.

At the height of the health care reform debate last fall, Bill Sammon, Fox News' controversial Washington managing editor, sent a memo directing his network's journalists not to use the phrase "public option."

Instead, Sammon wrote, Fox's reporters should use "government option" and similar phrases -- wording that a top Republican pollster had recommended in order to turn public opinion against the Democrats' reform efforts.

Of course, the government-controlled health care option Democrats loved was, in fact, a "government option." The fact that "government option" didn't poll well didn't change the truth. And it isn't like "public option" was the only way Democrats referred to government-run health care. Even Nancy Pelosi called government health care something other than a "public option", and I doubt Media Matters would argue that she was "slanting" anything.

Media Matters doesn't mind journalists slanting the news, provided they slant it in a liberal direction. You never see pro-lifers called "pro-life supporters" on the news. They're always called "anti-abortion activists." Even Slate's Jack Shafer notes, "If using the phrase government option is spinning the news, so is using public option."

Since the earliest days of marketing, people have tried to spin their product (whether it's dish soap or legislation) in the most positive light possible. That's what calling government-run health care the "public option" is. Calling that bullshit isn't slanting the news. It's telling the truth.