Media Bias Helps Promote Suffering

CBS’s 60 Minutes often provides important information about vulnerable and suffering Americans. Last Sunday, the program centered on billionaires sharing their wealth with the needy and forgotten people in some states deprived of health care, though the 60 Minutes segment doesn’t use the word deprived.

Where 60 Minutes fails in the health care segment involves not informing the audience about the real circumstances leading to the exclusion of health care services we all have a right to enjoy.

The 60 Minutes segment focuses on two registered nurses who drive the Health Wagon through six counties in the Appalachian area, providing free health care service to anyone in need. The Health Wagon’s clients are the sick and uninsured, people not able to afford health care, but still covered in 30 other states under Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

The episode doesn’t mention why the expansion is refused in the 20 states, including those in the Appalachian area, only that those states claim to fear the future cost. It is people who cannot afford to purchase Obamacare, even with a subsidy, who seek help. The Obamacare Medicaid expansion actually provides for these people in all states, and includes those who earn 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL) or less, the FPL being $15,856 for individuals.

The 60 Minutes segment only categorized them as falling in the unintended gap of lost coverage, as though their exclusion is an unintentional accident wrought by 20 states fearful of the expense. In actuality, those 20 Republican-controlled states would save money by instituting Medicaid expansion coverage under Obamacare. With no apparent rationale for those states to refuse coverage, one could only conclude that rejection of the coverage is only political.

When Scott Pelley first aired this segment in April of 2014 there were 20 Republican states rejecting over 3 million people qualified for coverage. He only said that the federal government covered the expense for 3 years. Not mentioned was that Obamacare would cover 90% of the cost in all the years thereafter. Also a disingenuous exclusion was the fact that the Medicaid expansion coverage actually saved money when considering the cost of alternative expenses (without the coverage) for the uninsured sick, expenses like emergency room care.

Furthermore, since 2014, Indiana has opted into coverage while Alabama and South Dakota are considering it. A bitter fight between newly elected Democrat, Governor McAuliffe, who seeks to expand Medicaid, and the Republican legislature, which rejects expansion, is still expected to shut out entitled Virginia residents. Last Sunday’s 60 Minutes, which repeated this April, 2014, segment, did not mention these updates, including the GOP’s exclusion in most states they control.

The point can easily be made that mainstream media fails to cover the truth about important issues and how those issues affect us and our more vulnerable fellow citizens. Such issues must contribute to what and whom we vote for. Withholding these truths only helps to contribute to misinformed voting or to an inclination not to vote.

Even life or death situations like the poisoned water in Flint, Michigan did not warrant informative reporting until MSNBC exposed Republican governor Rick Snyder for his reckless disregard for life and health, approving a new corrosive water source to save money. His action or inaction had a direct connection to lead poisoning of children, even ignoring for several months unsafe lead counts in their bloodstreams.

Though skirting the blame, the 60 Minutes segment did show that policies have impacts on lives. For example, the one patient treated by the Health Wagon, featured and interviewed by Scott Pelley, died three months after the interview. It was pointed out that Linda Moore, the patient, would probably still be alive if she had had health coverage when Obamacare was implemented the first day of 2014. Pointed out too were the neglected health risks such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, including how accompanying pain and death could have and should have been avoided.

We could well ask how many more will die as a result of dangerous partisan games played by Republican-controlled states. There are still 17 Republican-controlled states that are responsible for this suffering, even death. Standing in marked contrast to such heartless treatment are the kind and dedicated people who assist these forgotten Americans.
Not speaking the truth about the political party that is to blame and — what we can only conclude — are petty, spiteful, and partisan reasons for not providing coverage to which Americans are entitled is wretched and irresponsible.

This doesn’t just apply to CBS, but to all mainstream media. One can expect bias and vitriol to emanate from Fox News and right-wing media, but the corporate media has diffused blame for GOP obstruction for too long over both parties.

Such treatment only encourages more of the same. For as Republicans see no price is paid for their government shutdowns, budget blackmail options, loan default threats, and crisis legislating, they are only encouraged to do more of the same.

Since President Obama took office in January of 2009, the Republican Party began its Machiavellian policies in earnest. Let me review just a few of the most flagrant actions and lies, many bordering on traitorous. Unbiased reporting would have rendered them ineffective:

• Before Obama’s first Inaugural Address in 2009, senior GOP members of Congress had already met with conservative movement leaders and Republican strategists and agreed to ignore the electoral mandate and commit the party to a course of absolute obstruction, including spending bills to dig us out of the recession.
• Mitch McConnell publically announced his number one priority to make Obama a one-term president on October 23, 2010.
• Lies perpetrated by Republicans, and these are just a few: Obama doubled the deficit; Man-made climate change is a hoax; Tax cuts stimulate the economy; Voter fraud is a serious issue; Obama not born in US; Obamacare has ‘death panels.’
• Speaker of the House John Boehner violated a 216 year-old federal law by “joining with the leader of a foreign nation, Benjamin Netanyahu, against his own president.” Forty-eight GOP Senators undermined Obama nuclear treaty with Iran.
• Republicans waste millions by voting to repeal Obamacare over 60 times since it was passed.
• List of things Republicans demanded under threat of a government shutdown or default: balanced budget amendment; approved Keystone XL; cut funding for Planned Parenthood; Medicare privatization; Paul Ryan tax reform; defunding Obamacare (shutdown15 days in October, 2013); Trillions in budget cuts (2012 near default and resulting credit downgrade); accepting 10,000 Syrian refugees.

Such policies and actions should have been reported honestly and without any bias. Right-wing media function as allies for the right-wing cause. Mainstream media’s bias is more corporate in the vein of profit, propriety or entertainment.

But the reasons are incidental. Right-wing and mainstream media in their own way do damage. Right wing sources just cement the polarization that conservatives must maintain to stay in power. Mainstream media is a second punch that helps to promote a self-indulgent culture that feeds on the material and philosophical goods of a crony capitalist system.

James Hoover is a recently retired systems engineer. He has advanced degrees in Economics and English. Prior to his aerospace career, he taught high school, and he has also taught college courses. He recently published a science fiction novel called Extraordinary Visitors and writes political columns on several websites. Read other articles by James.