NYT Profiles Man Who Uses Indoor Voice at Health Care Town Hall

Today, a (non-TV) news outlet profiles a “calm,” “respectful questioner” from a health care town hall. (Not that yelling and crazy-acting are entirely yesterday’s way of getting media attention; CNN, for one, is still talking about some yellers this morning). New York Times readers, though, meet one Bob Collier of Montezuma, Georgia, who has concerns about health care reform and said as much — using an indoor voice — at a town hall with his congressman last week. Per the Times:

The town-hall-style meetings that have so defined the national health care debate during this month’s Congressional recess have produced an endless video loop of high-decibel rants. In many instances, the din has overwhelmed the calmer, more reasoned voices of people like Bob and Susan Collier, who came to Mr. Bishop’s meeting not because they had received an electronic call to action but because they had read about it in The Macon Telegraph

…although the Colliers “receive much of their information,” the Times is sure to note, “from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh’s radio program and Matt Drudge’s web site.”

The cameras may linger on those at the extremes, but it is the parade of respectful questioners, those expressing discomfiting fears and legitimate concerns, that may ultimately have more impact.

(Impact on? How so? Says who?)

Collier’s politely-expressed concerns about health care reform include (in addition to the more general “the way this thing could turn our country” and Obama wanting “to take over health care” being part of his overall “power grab”) that if his wife’s breast cancer returns “that he feared her care would be rationed.” And? What of this concern? Is Collier on to something here?

Well, “Policy Experts Call Fear of Medical Rationing Unfounded,” according to — as it often goes with the fact-check-ish stuff — an entirely separate Times piece (so as, maybe, not to impolitely interrupt the flow of The Polite Mr. Collier profile?) Trouble is, unless you’re reading the print version of the Times—where you might notice the “experts say” article just below the jumped portion of the Collier profile— chances are you’ll miss the piece* that (as it happens?) attempts to address (and it isn’t simple) the substance of one of Collier’s politely-worded concerns.

What’s the point, then, of The Story of Mr. Collier and His Calmly-Expressed Concerns About Health Care? Is it more or less instructive than Chris Matthews “unloading” on MSNBC on the guy who brought a gun to the New Hampshire town hall or Sean Hannity chatting with the I don’t want this country “turning into Russia,” Sen. Specter woman?

*And be sure to read Greg’s take on this piece

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.