The News Big Media Won't Report

10/20/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Every morning I still read my old-fashioned paper copy of the morning Washington Post on the subway on my way to the office, and then I sit down to review all the information I am getting from field events and town halls around the country, lobbyists' reports from those meeting with Senate and House members and staff, updates from organizations working in the field. I have to say that the two sets of information could not be further apart, and it makes me wonder again what the disconnect is.

This morning is a classic example. On the front page is a remarkable puff piece that I had to do a double take on because it was so strange: an article on Senator Bob Corker with the headline, "A GOP Senator Looking To Meet Halfway." I had to do a double-take because Bob Corker is one of the farthest right-wing Senators in the chamber, a Senator who has never voted in the middle or been serious about anything approaching a compromise on any major issue that I am aware of. He is not on either of the two Senate committees dealing with health care, is a freshman not in the leadership, and has not offered a single significant piece of health care legislation. What he says about health care is identical to the same talking points Mitch McConnell speaks from, which incidentally were the same talking points Newt Gingrich was speaking from when he killed the last effort at health reform. These talking points include the usual problem that every politician uses when they are trying to kill a bill, about how of course they want to meet in the middle and reach a compromise, if only the other side would just drop everything that really matters. Apparently, the folks at the WP take such silliness at face value.

I turned to page A2, and there was a classically cynical Dana Milbank column, trashing a Democratic member's press conference on health care and talking about Democrats trying, "to pick up the pieces of the shattered health care bill."

Then on page A4, a column about a town hall meeting in rural Colorado that had more anti-reform than pro-reform people showing up in attendance.

On the other hand, in my office, I am reading reports that look like this:

  • A report from field activists analyzing town hall meetings that showed more than 15,000 people turned out clearly in favor of health reform, compared to 1,200 clearly opposed. (Along with quite a few someplace in the middle, with thoughtful questions.)

  • A second report analyzing town hall turnout trends from local news accounts suggesting that in most of the town halls reported on, supporters outnumbered opponents.

  • Reports from pro-reform rallies over last weekend in at least 30 places around the country, including: over 1,000 in Denver; 1,000 in Columbus, Ohio; 1,500 in St. Louis; 2,800 in Somerville, MA; 1,000 in Vancouver, WA. And hundreds in small towns as well: 400 in Clinton, Iowa; 200 in Jefferson City, MO; 150 people in Columbus, GA; 700 in Salinas; 300 in Grand Rapids, MI; 300 in Green Bay, WI.

  • The OFA program being run out of the DNC, after being derided for months by the traditional media for its slow start, reported some stunning numbers at the start of the Obama/OFA town hall on August 24th: Over 1.5 million have taken action since they launched the health insurance reform campaign on June 6th; 11,906 local events have happened, and average of 171 events per day; 231,572 personal stories have been submitted; OFA members made 64,912 local visits in one week.

  • In a matter of 96 hours, a group of bloggers raised over $400,000 from 6,800 people to support strong supporters of a public option.

    As I've written before, between some combination of their own pre-conceived conventional wisdom talking points and their love of covering a train wreck, traditional media does not want to report the good news about health care reform. I can't remember ever seeing in any traditional media story, for example, the fact that (as Chris Bowers reported) there is now a majority in both the House and the Senate that are on the public record in support of a public option.

    The future of health care reform hangs in the balance. We are in the fight of our lives -- but if you listen to the traditional media, you would think it is all over.