Thursday, July 23, 2009

When The Media Covers Sausage-Making

One of the reasons that I'm fairly cheery about the chances of getting health care reform passed is that I've been reading Ezra and geeking out over the Congressional politics. And while there are sticking points there -- namely the Senate Finance Committee and the filibuster -- we seem to have a good strategy for getting things through Congress. I loved the heck out of Ezra's Pelosi interview yesterday, where she seems almost cocky about passing it. Ezra is confident that this is going to work out. In general, the whole strategy of getting not-so-great legislation through the bottlenecks and then bulking it up in conference committee sounds brilliant.

Amanda's right about the tone of the media coverage, however. Every time I read some big general article on the state of play with health care, it feels like there's so much more trouble than there really is. The closer you get to the specifics, the better things look. But it's really striking how much the media is trying to turn a bunch of generally positive specifics into a negative general picture about the prospects for reform.

Which is all to say that it feels kind of like a year ago. The McCain campaign focused on winning news cycles to the exclusion of coherent long-term strategy, while the Obama campaign focused on long-term strategy to the exclusion of winning news cycles. Obama ended up doing well, even if the bigger story was the self-destruction of McCain through a splashy but ill-considered VP choice. But if you were following the traditional media, you were gritting your teeth to the point of dental erosion.


Brock said...

self-destruction of McCain through a splashy but ill-considered VP choice

That, and the on-again-off-again debate in Oxford. That's when I knew the election was Obama's.

wkdewey said...

Unfortunately that too many progressives are willing to buy into this negative framing. They think that if they keep saying that Obama and the Dems are too far too the right, it will balance out the right-wingers calling Obama a socialist. The trouble with this strategy is that it simply reinforces the "Obama sucks" narrative