Saturday, October 10, 2009

Keith Olbermann - Hour Long, Self-Indulgent Rant on Health Care Reform

Wednesday night (Oct. 7, 2009), Olbermann outdid himself with an embarrassing, self-indulgent, hour-long rant supposedly in support of health care reform - brought about by his experience with his father's serious illness.

First off, he surely embarrassed his father with details of how the problem began - just a day or two after a comment that he had missed a number of shows because of his father's illness but didn't want to invade his father's privacy with details.

Second, it was quite clear that his father got excellent care, for which Olbermann is grateful and which, apparently, did point out to him how lucky he was in contrast to the experience of so many others without his financial resources.

That's fine. I would have given him 5 or 10 minutes to let us know why he is so emotional about the issue.

But the hyperbole went on and on and on and on - and he contributed zip to the conversation.

The media, focused as always on the politics of the issue, have been MIA when it comes to informing people about the details of the various bills and the various trade offs (e.g., why a mandate is necessary - to have a large pool in which to spread risk; the difficulties of establishing the "sweet point" for a fine: if the price is too low, it will be cheaper to pay the fine than buy health care; if too high, the risks of non-compliance, effect on employment, etc.).

I had hoped, when I first heard about his plans for an hour-long "special comment", that he might focus on the key issues. Silly me. Just an endless series of hyperbolic statements about health care being about death, speculations about how those less fortunate must feel in similar situations, repeated details about his experience, mention of his sister, more details about his father.

The whole hour was a waste, a self-referential, poorly written, poorly argued mess.

Anybody who truly cares about health reform must have writhed in pain at the thought of what they could have done with a full hour in which they need not interview anybody or present opposing opinions.

Why couldn't MSNBC have given the hour to Uwe Reinhardt, a brilliant speaker on health care reform who knows the facts and how to present them.

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