What's going on at Politico these days?
Over the years, the organization has earned a reputation as a moderate, nonpartisan voice on political news. While writers like Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan have exposed some evidence of a right-wing bias, I’ve for the most part found them to be fair.
Lately, I'm not quite sure what they're up to. Take a look at their reporting Monday morning on health care, the defining domestic issue recently. They released three stories in the span of a few hours, all three vigorously predicting failure for reform. Parts of their reporting were fishy, while other parts were outright false.
Take a look at the opening for the article titled "5 keys to getting health care deal."
It was always going to be hard for President Barack Obama to pass health care reform by the fall. Lately, there are signs it’ll take a political miracle.
Really? High costs and few dissenting Democrats means it’s going to take a "political miracle"? Last week wasn’t the best week for health care, as many news organizations pointed out, but to jump from that to "it needs a miracle" sounds to me like priming for failure.
The next article’s title says it all: "How Obama could lose health fight."
Sigh. Jumping the gun a little, guys? For Politico to sit around and dream for three pages about how Obama can fail on an extremely newsworthy day for health care—one that’s been good for reformers, no less—might raise an eyebrow.
President Obama's campaign for health care reform by this fall, once considered highly likely to succeed, suddenly appears in real jeopardy.
It echoes the first piece I linked to, preemptively foreshadowing failure twice in a couple hours.
Now, for the real kicker, check out this one, titled "Momentum key for health care bill."
It starts off ridiculing Democrats’ views of Obama as the "second coming," the "messiah" and suggesting the GOP was somewhat justified in calling him a "celebrity" and creating the impression of an unfounded Obama cult.
Have a look at the next paragraph -- this ought to make you cringe.
There is today a curious disconnect between support for the president’s policy prescriptions and the popularity of the man himself. Fewer than half of all Americans are on board with the president’s health care agenda (although they remain open to persuasion), a majority are uneasy about the burgeoning federal deficit, and voters remain dubious about the very notion that government can solve the country’s problems.
First bold: this is sheer nonsense, and flatly disproven just days ago by a widely circulated New York Times/CBS poll that should make this Politico writer feel ashamed. The poll found that a whopping 72 percent favored Obama’s health care plan. That’s quite a difference from "fewer than half," no?
Second bold: this is the most tried and true right-wing talking point of all: government is bad; government can’t solve our problems, and so on. But this sentiment is hardly prevalent in today’s society, especially on health care. The same poll found that a majority of the public believed that the government would in fact do a better job of both "providing medical coverage" and "holding down health care costs."
How does a fair-minded reader extrapolate a prevailing anti-government sentiment from that? Did a writer from this esteemed national newspaper miss a poll that has been front-and-center for days?
And now I must ask: where’s Politico’s mention of the poll? Where’s the story about Chuck Schumer’s rejection of the co-ops idea and the silence of the obstructionists in centrist-Dem land? Today was filled with positive news for reformers, and you wouldn’t have a clue of it by reading Politico. It doesn’t sound like they’re trying to report the news; it sounds like they’re trying to alter and manipulate it. And that’s not what objective reporters do, is it?
People who aren’t familiar with right-wing scare tactics might fall for this, but enough of us have developed radar for it over the last many years. It’s also not difficult to sense when someone’s bullish on a policy failure. As of Monday, Politico reeks of it.
Fox News symbolizes the dangers of highly opinionated media masquerading as honest, balanced reporting. If Politico wants to be a right-wing organization, they have every right to do so. But as long as they try to pass off agenda-ridden "reporting" passed of as "news," they deserve to be called out on it.