Legislative maneuvering happens in the rough and tumble of politics, but on national television, one might expect higher standards of fairness. By chance, a medical student named Kevin Hauck walked into Joe’s Coffee Bar as the NOW crew was filming, and he was interviewed for the show. Hauck, who is also a board member of Healthcare for All Pennsylvania, said he talked about the single-payer plan, but those comments didn’t make the final cut. Instead the segment showed Hauck talking about a doctor bargaining with an uninsured patient over which lab tests to perform and saying, “This is really an issue about patients and about getting treatment.” No kidding. A researcher for the show did interview several people who support a single-payer plan but told one of them that the show was going in a different direction. The closest NOW came to giving a nod to that approach was a comment from Brancaccio: “Reformers contend it [the governor’s plan] falls far short of providing what they consider the holy grail of health-care reform: universal coverage.”
Slanting a story by omission is not cool. Shutting out an important viewpoint hardly fosters robust discussion of a subject that every American has a stake in. Chuck Pennacchio, who heads Pennsylvania’s single-payer group, vows that the fight to educate the state about their plan will continue “through word of mouth, fliers, e-mail, and bloggers,” old fashioned tools and new ones. But what does that say for the mainstream media?