Is James Fallows really surprised?August 11, 2009 2:33 PM EDT ››› ERIC BOEHLERT
Writing over at The Atlantic, Fallows bemoans the state of the health care 'debate', and especially the GOP misinformation about ""death committees," socialized medicine, end of innovation, "keep the government out of my Medicare," etc."
Fallows is depressed. He writes:
I have to say that it is striking to come back -- from the world of controlled media and not-always-accurate "official truth" in China -- and see the world's most mature democracy, informed by the world's dominant media system, at a time of perceived economic crisis and under brand new political leadership, getting tied up by manufactured misinformation. No matter what party you belong to, you can't think this is a sign of health for the Republic.
Really, Fallows seems surprised that the debate surrounding a big public policy issue is "getting tied up by manufactured misinformation" launched by the right?
That strikes me as being wildly naive and my suggestion to Fallows would be to go spend a few hours reading the archives over at The Daily Howler. Purposeful conservative misinformation, which then often gets echoed and spread around by the (lazy) mainstream press, has been the defining trait our political dialog for at least the last fifteen years. Yet media elites (like Fallows) still act surprised, in part because lots of media elites have spent the last 15 years playing dumb about the trend and playing dumb about the damage being done to our democracy.
Honestly, what was Fallow expecting, that the right-wing press was going to promote a robust, fact-based discussion about the issues, and that the mainstream press was going to drill down deep into the facts? I suppose that yes, most sane observers would bemoan what's become of our health care 'debate' today. But the ones who act shocked are the ones who surprise me the most.
UPDATED: Paul Krugman recently made the following point. It wasn't in reference to Fallows, but it could have been [emphasis added]:
So now that the same people [Republicans] are in opposition, nobody should be surprised that they are willing to say anything to block efforts to actually deal with problems. Anyone who is surprised hasn't been paying attention since, oh, 1993.