Monday, June 29, 2009

Push Back Against WashPost's Unhealthy Coverage

Dear Friend,

Given the importance and complexity of health care reform, it is critical that media report on the subject fairly and accurately. Unfortunately, a recent front-page article in the Washington Post by reporter Ceci Connolly failed on both counts.

In the June 28 article, Connolly, quoting Change Congress' interim executive director Adam Green, wrote the following:

Green, in an interview, was hard-pressed to articulate a substantive argument for the public plan but said that it "has become a proxy for the question of Democrats who stand on principle and represent their constituents."

Connolly's assertion was deeply flawed and misleading. By asserting that Green could not articulate a substantive argument supporting the "public option," and then failing to otherwise articulate that argument, Connolly suggested that there is no real case to be made for such a plan. By depriving readers of the substance and thought behind the reform plan -- both of which would have been easy to obtain from Green or any number of other prominent scholars and activists -- Connolly was in essence telling her readers that, on one of the most critical issues of our day, one side of the debate lacks a substantive basis for its position.

That is unacceptable. We need The Washington Post to address this kind of dubious and unbalanced reporting immediately. Please join me and voice your concern by emailing the Post's ombudsman today:

According to Adam Green, Ceci Connolly's conduct was even worse than the passage above suggests. Green wrote that Connolly actually misrepresented his response to her question. Describing the exchange, Green wrote:

Connolly then asked me why progressives were picking a political fight on the public option, as opposed to another issue. I guess the fact that it's the #1 domestic issue of the day -- one that affects millions of American families -- wasn't explanation enough.

I figured she was looking for a quote summarizing the political stakes, so I thought for a moment and said, "The public option has become a proxy for the question of whether Democrats will stand on principle and represent their constituents."

I was quite proud of that answer. It summarizes what a lot of people are feeling -- the public option is the "line in the sand" issue for Democrats, something Chris has written about here on OpenLeft several times.

After relating Connolly's claim that he was "hard-pressed to articulate a substantive argument for the public plan," Green wrote:

WHAT? Connolly asked me a question on the politics, and when I gave her an answer on that, she said I didn't answer on the substance?

Given the highly misleading passage in the article, and Green's statement concerning Connolly's misrepresentation, the Washington Post's ombudsman, Andy Alexander, should assess the article and Green's statements in the context of that article. He should then let readers know whether he thinks Connolly's reporting was fair and accurate and whether her conduct was appropriate.

Please email the Post's Ombudsman today and ask that he address this seriously flawed article:

Thank you in advance for your help in holding the media accountable on this crucial issue.

David Brock
Founder & CEO
Media Matters for America

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