Laughing Our Way Out of Confusion about Health Care

23 08 2009

Donny Shaw at OpenCongress makes an excellent point about how the Daily Show with Jon Stewart often features segments with more probing discussion about issues than actual programs that purport to be news outlets.

Armed with the first 500 pages of the House health care bill (H.R. 3200) Betsy McCaughey, the first person to equate end-of-life planning with government-mandated euthanasia, went on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night to defend her position.

The show sort of underscores the anomaly of the health care debate in our country right now. This is comedy show where two people are having a fairly high-level discussion about actual legislative text, and the substance is compelling enough that it makes for good entertainment. There is a real desire to know what’s in the bill. Health care, obviously, is an especially important issue. But, also, I think the people that follow what happens in Congress are figuring out that there is a lot of misinformation standing in the way of having a smart debate of the bill, and they are trying to get the facts for themselves, which is fantastic.

I suppose its fantastic that the Daily Show decided to do such a segment, but its also an alarming indicator of how the disinformation out there is so pervasive that even after two months of ‘debate’ we are still remain confused about the substance of the proposal. And the fact that a comedian, even one as clever as Stewart, could provide a better 101 on the issue than many other programs should be considered an indictment of the failure of the television news media to inform and educate the public about a critical issue that could change the country for generations to come.

You can watch the segment here.

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