Sunday, July 12, 2009

Does This Inspire Your Confidence in Newspapers?

The mainstream media is already deciding who will be at the health care reform table and, according to Bill Moyers, it ain't going to be you or me:
The publisher of THE WASHINGTON POST, Katharine Weymouth — one of the most powerful people in the nation's capital — invited top officials from the White House, the Cabinet and Congress to her home for an intimate, off-the-record dinner to discuss health care reform with some of her reporters and editors covering the story.

But she then invited CEOs and lobbyists from the health care industry to come, too — providing they fork over $25,000 a head, or a quarter of a million if they want to sponsor a whole series of these cozy little get-togethers. And what is the inducement she offers them? Nothing less than — and I'm quoting the invitation verbatim — "An exclusive opportunity to participate in the health care reform debate among the select few who will actually get it done." The invitation reminds the CEOs and lobbyists that they will be buying access to "those powerful few in business and policy making who are forwarding, legislating, and reporting on the issues."

Remember, the invitation promises this private, intimate, and off-the-record dinner is an extension "of THE WASHINGTON POST brand of journalistic inquiry into the issues, a unique opportunity for stakeholders to hear and be heard."

Let that sink in. The "stakeholders" in health care reform in this case do not include the rabble — the folks across the country who actually need quality health care but can't afford it. If any of them showed up at the kitchen door on the night of this little soiree, a bouncer would drop kick them beyond the beltway.
Is it any wonder that alternative sources of information like blogs are so popularly followed when newspaper publishers tend to show themselves so unreliable? How can we possibly trust the fourth estate when they put themselves in bed with power-brokers and sell their influence to king-makers?

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