DC Trawler

BREAKING: Media Outlet Chooses Not to Parrot Government Propaganda

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That’s the headline I would’ve given to this Howard Kurtz piece at the Daily Beast:

On Oct. 27, the day after Senate Democrats introduced a bill with a public insurance option from which states could opt out, Bill Sammon, a Fox News vice president and Washington managing editor, sent the staff a memo. Sammon is a former Washington Times reporter.

“Please use the term ‘government-run health insurance,’ or, when brevity is a concern, ‘government option,’ whenever possible,” the memo said.

Sammon acknowledged that the phrase “public option” was “firmly ensconced in the nation’s lexicon,” so when it was necessary to use it, he wrote, add the qualifier “so-called,” as in “the so-called public option.” And “here’s another way to phrase it: ‘The public option, which is the government-run plan.’”

This is unconscionable, of course, which is why Media Matters is pushing this, um, “news story.” Since when are media outlets allowed to decide whether or not to disseminate government-dictated rhetoric? “Public option” is a perfectly descriptive phrase. It means… well… See, you’ve got the public… and they have options! Yeah. What’s wrong with that? Just because the government runs something, does that somehow make it “government-run”? Stupid teabaggers.

Also, remember that we’re not calling any of this stuff “ObamaCare,” because that’s derogatory. And the reason it’s derogatory is because Shut Up.

P.S. Kate Pickert at Time Magazine: In Defense of the Fox News Ban on “Public Option”

Here’s what Kurtz and Media Matters fail to note: Most Americans did not understand what the “public option” was. The term, in fact, seemed almost intentionally non-descriptive. Scores of journalists asked me during the health care debate to explain to them what the public option was – and these were folks interested in the news and paying attention to the issue…

Was it really useful for readers and viewers for reporters to use the term “public option,” which leaves out two very important words – “insurance” and “government”? I think no.

P.P.S. Peter Suderman: Please Do Not Call This Government-Run Health Insurance Plan A Government-Run Health Insurance Plan.

P.P.P.S. Jack Shafer: “That Sammon issued a memo directing Fox News reporters to use a phrase he considers more accurate hardly constitutes ‘spin,’ as the headline to Kurtz’s piece has it. If government option is spin, isn’t public option spin, too?”

P.P.P.P.S. A question for our friends at Politico: If government is good, and health insurance is good, why is saying “government-run health insurance” bad?

Jim Treacher