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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Why I don't listen to NPR (very much)

I like Car Talk and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, but the morning shows I tend to avoid. This morning, as there was nothing happening on our local AM band, I flipped over to Morning Edition. I came in just as this story was starting up. The part of the story that bothered me was this:

White House aides say Obama's goal is to clear up the confusion, particularly among those Americans with health insurance. By the time he's done, they say people will understand how coverage will work, who will get subsidies to buy health insurance, how those subsidies will be paid for and how the bill will cut costs and increase competition among insurers.

The president also will stress popular health insurance reforms with wide agreement on Capitol Hill. But he probably won't be more specific about one of the most polarizing issues in the health care debate: what kind of government-backed option, if any, should compete with private insurers.
The first four words of the first paragraph are important. Technically, I suppose, the reporter is "reporting" what the Aides said, not what the reporter thinks will happen. Yet, when I heard the report live on the radio, those first four words did not stand out. Rather, I heard the reporter providing information about WHAT WILL HAPPEN, in declaratory form not in "here's what is hoped." At the time it smacked of propaganda and it really frosted me.

I am sure there are examples of this on other media outlets, but I don't generally watch/listen to those outlets. I don't generally listen to NPR either, and this morning I was reminded, again, why I don't really bother.

I admit to not having an answer to the problem of how to report about what will happen in the future. I think, however, that reporting some declaratory talking points from White House aides is not the way to go about it. I, for one, am not comfortable being told (by anyone) how I am going to feel when someone else is "done."

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