13 October, 2009 — Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
In response to FAIR’s September 22 action alert, New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt agreed (10/11/09) that the paper’s September 20 article about Medicare for all excluded supporters of a single-payer healthcare system.
FAIR pointed out that the article, written by Katharine Seelye, laid out many arguments against single-payer—it would mean a big tax increase, it would hurt doctors, and so on—without including balancing responses from supporters. Hoyt agreed:
The Times has focused its coverage on proposals that editors and reporters judge to be politically feasible, which means that tort reform, popular with conservatives, and single-payer health coverage, popular with liberals, have received relatively scant attention. Anger boiled over recently, when an article on Medicare-for-all, a version of single-payer, explained all the reasons it was dead, and arguments against it, without going into arguments for it. Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, a liberal media watchdog, urged followers to object, and I received roughly 1,000 messages.
Katharine Seelye, the reporter, said she was trying to explain why Medicare-for-all was not going anywhere and provided links online to arguments for it. “I thought the substance of it had been dealt with elsewhere many times,” she said. But the Times had not seriously explored the issue during the current debate, and I thought FAIR had a point.
Seelye’s defense is alarming; does a reporter at the New York Times really believe that single-payer has been covered “many times” by the paper? The Times, like the rest of the corporate media, has given the issue scant attention (FAIR Media Advisory, 3/6/09). FAIR is encouraged by Hoyt’s acknowledgment that the argument deserves fuller coverage; let’s hope the editors of the Times see it that way, too.
FAIR would like to thank the many people who took the time to write to the paper.