- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 11, 2009

THE SIDESHOW

Strident print and broadcast coverage of health care reform now concentrates on public discord during town-hall meetings rather than clear explanations of the proposed legislation and its attendant issues. Among those who have been vilified in the process — “unhinged” conservatives, “reckless” Republicans,” and “evil” Blue Dogs, according to studies released Monday by Newsbusters.org and the Media Research Center, its parent company.

But there’s some collateral damage.

“I think the coverage is alarming and confusing the public, especially seniors,” Noel Sheppard tells Inside the Beltway. “Americans don’t like being told that average folks standing up and voicing opposition are part of an angry mob. It’s demeaning and insulting.”

The associate editor of Newsbusters is particularly vexed that some broadcasters bill town-hall protesters as “an angry mob organized by conservative organizations,” but ignore the presence of President Obama’s supporters carrying signs and handing out pro-reform leaflets — as they did during a recent noisy meeting in Tampa chaired by Rep. Kathy Castor, Florida Democrat.

“The media’s awful coverage has furthered the public’s distrust of Congress, and reduced interest in pending health care legislation,” Mr. Sheppard says. “Right now, the media are appearing as hapless as the lowly-rated members of Congress they helped get and/or keep in office the past two election cycles.”

POLL DU JOUR

51 percent of American voters fear the federal government more than insurance companies when it comes to health care decisions.

41 percent fear the insurance companies more.

82 percent of Republicans fear the government more.

67 percent of Democrats fear insurance companies over the government.

25 percent of voters overall agree with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that insurance companies are “villains.”

Source: A Rasmussen survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Aug. 7-8.

STICK-TO-ITIVE-NESS

Consider those oval stickers on select autos labeled “OBX” and “BB” — designating beach town affiliations. Those who have been to the ultimate sandbox now have a version, too.

Handsome stickers bearing the abbreviation “IRQ” and “AFG” with the words “I served” underneath are available free to returning troops.

“I hope that people will approach our courageous veterans and thank them for their service when they see the sticker,” says organizer Scott Kreger. “I also see these stickers as a way for fellow veterans to identify and talk with each other. These connections could lead to networking opportunities, jobs and support in tough times.”

About 40 volunteers stuffed 20,000 envelopes and packages bound for active duty military on Saturday. Mr. Kreger — who has received requests from the U.S. Army for about 200,000 stickers — operates the project through a nonprofit group and funds the project entirely by tax deductible, private donations. He’s running a little short.

Visit www.iservedsticker.org for information.

WASTE LINE

Run out of choice descriptions for Congress? Citizens Against Government Waste has some suggestions, prompted by news that the deficit is expected to reach $1.8 trillion by the end of September, according to Congressional Budget Office numbers.

“Taxpayers have had it,” says Tom Schatz, president of the nonpartisan watchdog group. “This Congress is starting to resemble the Emperor Nero, fiddling while the taxpayers get burned. With no sense of irony or responsibility, the first vote Congress will consider after the August recess is an increase in the debt ceiling.”

Well, let’s see. There’s the $550 million worth of passenger jets that the House tucked into the 2010 Defense Appropriations Act. There’s the bailouts, the unemployment benefits and Medicare spending. Yes, there’s that.

“The biggest problem in Washington, D.C., is out-of-control spending and an unreformed, unrepentant culture of waste. That explains the dismissive attitude of some members of Congress toward the people who are attending their town-hall meetings to have their voices heard. It is a disgrace,” Mr. Schatz concludes.

SCREEN GEMS

Stay-at-home dad Anthony Sloan has iron nerves and a steel-clad memory. The Greenbelt resident can be seen as a finalist Tuesday night on ABC’s “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” which will also showcase CNNs Wolf Blitzer on the “Ask the Expert” lifeline.

Mr. Sloan, who grew up in Southeast D.C. and has called Miami, Los Angeles and New York home over the years, also has a certain basic instinct about politics, and surviving the economic downturn.

“I’ve been a Republican, a Democrat. Now I’m an independent. Amid all this arguing between the sides, I’d like to see the nation get its common message together for the rest of the world — one that recalls the American dream, not the American nightmare,” Mr. Sloan tells Inside the Beltway.

“And we can get through this economy. You lose your big job, well, then you just settle for less. You buy less. Old idea, but it works. Kmart and Wal-Mart are always hiring,” he adds.

Rants, grunts and squeaks to jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide