The Company You Keep

Washington Post columnist David Broder took up the issue of healthcare policy in his column yesterday (“Health Reform’s Moment,” 12/14/08). One of FAIR’s chief criticisms of media over the past two decades has been the narrow range of sources the media rely on to shape the debate over a given issue. Healthcare is no different, so it was instructive to read the top of Broder’s column, where you see who he considers important:

On the same morning that President-elect Barack Obama introduced Tom Daschle, the former Senate majority leader, as his prospective secretary of health and human services and his point man on healthcare reform, a panel of key constituency group leaders met to assess the prospects for success.

Taking the microphone, in turn, at a Washington hotel were the head of Business Roundtable, speaking for leading corporations; the chief executive of Pfizer, the giant pharmaceutical company; the president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the trade association for that industry; and spokesmen for the National Federation of Independent Business, the small-business lobby, and AARP, the senior citizens organization.

All of them agreed that major health legislation has a much better chance of passage in the next Congress than when Bill and Hillary Clinton tried in 1993-94. And so did John Harwood of CNBC and myself, the two journalists invited to be on the panel.

Business groups, health insurers and pharmaceutical companies are the ones who really matter–and who will determine what “reform” ideas are possible, and which are not. It won’t take Broder long to conclude–as others in the media have already— that single-payer healthcare is off the table.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.