C-Span is most excellent at explaining complex issues or concepts in their in-depth interview formats. (TR Reid is scheduled for a 3-hour in-depth interview in March, which could be helpful in enlightening the public conversation). Good, understandable information also comes out when they broadcast panel discussions/debates as they did recently with this interesting session at UVA (the Q&A at the end was the most interesting, particularly the comments of the German economist about the current situation with Germany’s health system).

Personally, I thought it was really not worth pre-empting Book TV for the Senate vote. It’s important that they document the official proceedings but health reform is too complex to gain useful understanding just by watching Congress-cam. Also by the time they’re voting on such important issues, the public can do nothing about their decisions other than cheer or boo. Also Congress uses those sessions to inflame public opinion by throwing out buzz words or other pieces of shallow commentary which is another form of public-debate pollution (more bad hot air for a topic that needs clear deep breaths).

C-Span’s Writers in America series was a great format that could be adapted for health reform if, instead on focusing on the career of one writer at a time, they focused on the history and practice of healthcare in one universal-coverage country at a time.

I just searched C-Span and found zero results for William Hsiao. I think Brian Lamb should spend some quality time with the Harvard professor who designed Taiwan’s health system that provides affordable, universal coverage for the people of Taiwan.

—MB

O’Keefe Again

Finally, Greg Marx returned once more this week to James O’Keefe—and specifically to Max Blumenthal’s critical look at O’Keefe’s racial politics in Salon, which Marx found had gone astray on a key detail.

To Greg Marx: I hope CJR is internalizing the obvious here - that people on the Left are very free and easy with accusations of racism, particularly when their political fortunes are in decline. Since this stuff has a nasty history in recent memory (i.e., the disgusting performance of much of the press, led by the unreliable NY Times, in the fetid Duke/lacrosse scandal), I believe that every reporter’s BS detector should go off when left-wing journalists and activists start playing the race card.

Unjustified accusations of racial motive (usually defined in slippery terms) have as scabrous an effect on civic discourse as does racism itself. (Several MSM stalwarts were also humiliatingly taken in by the Kentucky census worker scam, thanks to the same lazy biases, too.) It is good to see CJR approaching this stuff with skeptical scrutiny.

—Mark Richard

While I appreciate you stating the obvious, Mr. Marx, and it needed to be said, I can’t help but feel you just winked at journalists who ask the public to trust them again, and again, and again, etc. You don’t seem terribly concerned about cookie jar raids.

—FeFe

The Editors