October 30, 2013

On his show this afternoon, MSNBC host Ed Schultz picked up on a portion of President Obama’s Boston speech on health care. The president boomed:

So for people without health insurance, they’re finally going to be able to get it. For the vast majority of people who have health insurance that works, you can keep it. For the fewer than 5 percent of Americans who buy insurance on your own, you will be getting a better deal. So anyone peddling the notion that insurers are canceling peoples’ plan without mentioning that almost all the insurers are encouraging people to join better plans with the same carrier and stronger benefits and stronger protections while others will be able to get better plans with new carriers through the marketplace, and that many will get new help to pay for these better plans and make them actually cheaper — if you leave that stuff out, you’re being grossly misleading, to say the least.

In that presidential riff, Schultz sniffed something of an attack on the U.S. mainstream media. The host held forth: “Grossly misleading! No, he didn’t call ‘em a liar — just grossly misleading, which, I think, is even worse. bec is what a journalist really, their obligation is to do what? Explore all the facts and present the entire story. Clearly this hasn’t been the case in the mainstream media.”

One other cable-news host, meanwhile, doesn’t appear disenchanted with the performance of the mainstream media. On his program last night, Fox News host Sean Hannity credited NBC News for “reporting that the Obama administration knew as early as July of 2010 that, quote, ’50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a cancellation letter or the equivalent over the next year.’” Turning to Mediaite columnist Noah Rothman, Hannity said, “You cover the media on a daily basis. It’s only now it seems that they’re getting involved. I mean, maybe that’s why the NBC report was so shocking.”

Shocking, sure, if you’ve never watched a media frenzy in action. Whatever tendencies you may observe in the media, recent weeks have surfaced one of its strongest biases — the one toward piling on a big story and pounding it to death, leaving behind a trail of fine reporting and, indeed, incomplete and distorted reporting as well.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.