E.J. Dionne’s Question Answers His Question

Why are liberals and Democrats losing on issues like healthcare? Columnist E.J. Dionne (Washington Post, 2/18/10) rightly points out that congressional Democrats have caved on almost every big issue: “Single-payer was out at the start. The public option died. A Medicare buy-in died.” He wonders:

While liberals were arguing about public plans and this or that, and while Obama was deep into inside deal-making, the conservatives relentlessly made a straightforward public case based on a syllogism: The economy is a mess. Obama and the Democrats are for big government. Big government is responsible for the mess. Therefore the mess is the fault of Obama and the Big Government Democrats.

Simplistic and misleading? Absolutely. But if liberals and Obama are so smart, how did they–or, if you prefer, “we”–allow conservatives to make this argument so effectively? Why do the mainstream media give it so much credence?

That last question is really the answer. Conservative misinformation is effective when the media allow it to be effective. It’s a pretty easy formula. The best part is that the right can take up all that space in the media debate and still complain about the media’s liberal bias.

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.