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Birds of a feather

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Ever since Harry Truman began advocating for universal health care in the ‘40s, the mainstream media have either jeered or ignored the idea, and their hostility has helped keep the USA from a government-run health care system such as other advanced countries have. Though wingnuts scream otherwise, the MSM have always been conservative and Republican for the most part. In the case of health care, this is not just a matter of ideology.

The owners of newspaper chains and television networks are friends and business partners with the corporate executives who buy newspaper and television advertising. They often sit on each other's boards of directors. Much of the advertising bought and sold is for private health insurance, a highly profitable field that would become less so if the government started running it, eliminating the ineffi-ciency and greed of the present system.

The media watchdog group FAIR studied nine major media corporations and their major outlets: Disney (ABC), General Electric (NBC), CBS, Time Warner (CNN,Time), News Corporation (Fox), New York Times Co., Washington Post Co. (Newsweek), Tribune Co. (Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times) and Gannett (USA Today). Five of the nine media corporations shared a director with an insur-ance company; two of the insurance companies each had a director on more than one media board. Six of the nine media corporations also had a director representing a pharmaceutical company. Like insurance, the pharmaceutical industry stands to become less profit-able under a single-payer health care system. Except for CBS, every one of the big media corporations had board connections to either an insurance company or a pharmaceutical company.

Yet media bias alone can't account for the passion of the protestors against health care reform. Those at a meeting in Little Rock last week – loud, misguided, angry and fearful – were spookily reminiscent of the segregationists outside Central High 50 years ago. Not that Little Rock is alone this time. Similarly rowdy yet well-organized outbursts have occurred across the country.

Unlike the big media, the protestors are not acting in their own economic interest. They're acting to the contrary. Why? Can they really believe that the government of the United States of America is planning to kill all the old people? Do people who are on Medicare themselves not understand that Medicare too is a government-run health care program, a very successful one that's been around for 40 years? Or is America's first black president the real object of their anger, and are they saying about health care reform what has become unfashionable to say about another person's race?
Racism is always easy to allege and hard to prove. In this case, you have to wonder.

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