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If at first you don't succeed, change the debate and try again

Posted on August 11 2009 2:38 pm
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A funny thing happened on the way to universal health care – the media stopped talking about it. Oh, it’s true you still can hardly go five minutes watching a major network without hearing someone mention “health care reform” or “government option.” But the stories themselves have foregone any content about Obama’s intended “reforms,” or how government-run health care might affect America. The stories are now about the debate itself. Wonder why that is?

Could it be because the more the public hears about the leftist health care bill, the more and more they turn against it?

And so the lapdog media has dutifully switched from honest debate tactics – discussing facts and opposing viewpoints – to dishonest ones.

Case in point: On Anderson Cooper 360 Monday night, guest host John Roberts invited Ron Reagan Jr. (of Air America Radio) and radio host Dana Loesch to debate not health care, but the health care debate itself. The first question out of Roberts’ mouth (directed at Ms. Loesch) was “Why so much anger, mistrust and misinformation out there?”

That statement runs a veritable gamut of dishonest debate tactics: posing false premises, begging the question, attacking the messenger – the list goes on.

No mention of what “misinformation” might be out there. No mention of real instances of anger like SEIU thugs attacking conservatives in Tampa and St. Louis. No mention that, given this administration’s history of ramming bills  though Congress without anyone having read them, people have very real reasons to be mistrustful of the government.

And so, like most conservatives on CNN, Loesch was forced to start on the defensive. Despite the radio host’s attempts to mention inconvenient facts like SEIU working with Kathleen Sebelius to pack a town hall, Roberts spent the next ten minutes asking leading questions about how “angry” town hall attendees have been. He asked Reagan about “the argument” contending that the people at these town halls constitute “a grassroots movement.” So, in AC360-land, accusations are facts, and facts are merely “arguments.”

Roberts then went on to allow Ron Reagan to exploit the fact that someone had dropped — not fired or brandished, but dropped — a gun out of his pocket, as evidence that the town hall protesters are, by and large, gun-wielding crazies.

Dana Loesch did manage to make one good analogy, at the very end of her segment. “With the government calling the shots,” she said, “It’s [having the public option compete with private insurance] like owning a football team and also owning the league.”

That’s a very good analogy, and one that might be extended to apply to AC360 itself. If politics is football, then AC360 is a stadium. Conservatives should be aware: when you show up on gameday, you’ll be playing against not only the other team, but the referees as well. And you might not even be playing the same game you thought you were playing.

There’s only one problem with the media’s attempt to change the narrative from being about the health care bill itself to the “anger” and “fear” present at town hall meetings. While Democrats might be able to set up enough of an echo chamber to convince themselves their bill is popular, the public is, again, not  so easily fooled. And if the only argument the left has remaining is “we don’t like your tone,” then they’ve already lost.

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