On MSNBC this morning, I caught a bit of a discussion between Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough and guest Pete Hamill about the challenges of covering/communicating the fundamentals of health care reform:
SCARBOROUGH: We throw these terms around and The Left says, “We’ve got to have the public option!” The Right says, “The public option equals Stalinism!” Most Americans don’t have a clue what any of this means. They’re, once again, just choosing their side and saying hooray.
HAMILL: Part of it is our fault. Part of it is the media’s fault. You should never use a phrase like “public option” or “single payer option” without having a comma by it explaining what you mean by it the first time you mention it. We never do that. Instead, it’s lying there and then the average intelligent reader of the newspaper or observer of television doesn’t know what the phrases mean. So, my [idea]…about hiring some of these unemployed copy editors — tough, grim, you know, ferocious observers of the language— to make the language clear. Obama talked three or four months ago about the need for plain language. We don’t have it. You have to get these editors in and make it explainable to the average intelligent citizen.
“Get these editors in”…. where? (It’s hard to tell, even after watching the entire segment and using tveyes.com to search the rest of the morning’s Morning Joe chatter.) Is Hamill suggesting that the White House hire some out-of-work “tough, grim” copy editors to help clearly communicate its vision for health care? Since, I guess, news organizations can’t — can’t hire people or, with the people they do have, can’t seem to clearly communicate the basics?Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.