One of the reasons why it has become tougher is due to misperceptions about the president’s plans for reform.
Majorities in the poll believe the plans would give health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants; would lead to a government takeover of the health system; and would use taxpayer dollars to pay for women to have abortions — all claims that nonpartisan fact-checkers say are untrue about the legislation that has emerged so far from Congress.
Forty-five percent think the reform proposals would allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing medical care for the elderly.
Recall August 2004, when the right-wing Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (egged on by corporate interests) stole a month's worth of campaign headlines by propagating all kinds of smears and misinformation in an attempt to derail an important Democratic campaign. Yet they were treated as deeply important newsmakers by the press during a slow summer news month.
Honestly, the only thing missing this time around is a crackpot, best-selling book. In 2004, the Swifties used the release of Unfit for Command to launch their media-based smear campaign. This summer, it could have been something like ObamaScare: How Liberal Health Care Will Destroy America. (The Swifties' right-wing publisher must be kicking itself over the missed marketing opportunity.)
But what has been perfectly consistent is the way the press has, again, fallen for a right-wing smear campaign and dressed it up as news. Just as with the Swifties, the press has turned over its summer coverage to a band of agitators spreading misinformation. Five summers ago, the Swift Boat Vets helped hijack the election. They lied about documents, they lied about eyewitness, and they lied about their partisan affiliations and connections. For several crucial weeks during the campaign, journalists turned away from the pile-up of Swift Boat falsehoods and contradictions, rarely daring to call the Swift Boat attack out for what it really was -- a hoax. Too spooked by the GOP Noise Machine and its charge of liberal media bias, the press propped up the Vets as serious men and showered them with attention.
This year, the press has handed over untold hours of free airtime to mini-mob members whose sole purpose seems to be to spread as much fear as possible. (The ones who show up toting guns and Nazi posters make that point rather emphatically.)