Polls are coming at us fast and furious these days. But two stood out to me this week as proving, once again, all you have to do to make a lie into the truth is repeat it loud enough and often enough.
First, the Pew Research Center for People & the Press’ weekly survey of news watchers finds 30 percent of those polled still believe the “death panels” nonsense, and another 20 percent don’t know if it’s true. Yeah, that’s half. Sure, many of these folks are Republicans and Fox News viewers—47 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Fox watchers said the proposed reforms would create “government organizations that will make decisions about who will and will not receive health services when they are critically ill.” But what’s more striking is how many Democrats, independents and viewers of every other news channel believe it, too.
Democrats—20 percent say it’s true; 16 percent don’t know
Independents—28 percent say it’s true; 21 percent don’t know
MSNBC viewers—27 percent say it’s true; 19 percent don’t know
CNN views—26 percent say it’s true; 20 percent don’t know
Network news viewers—25 percent say it’s true; 23 percent don’t know
WTF?! Those are depressing numbers, not just for the health care debate, but for the prospect a functioning democracy in general.
Second, Kaiser Family Foundation finds that the blur between truth and lie has left seniors in particular confused. One of the ironies of this debate is that seniors, who report overwhelming support for Medicare, nonetheless are most likely to distrust government involvement in the broader market. This dissonance may be due to the fact that seniors just don’t know what to make of the whole discussion. In Kaiser’s survey, 62 percent of people over the age of 65 said they felt “confused” about the plans being debated, compared to 43 percent of people under 65.
What’s all this add up to? The alliance of rightwing media, corporate lobbyists and the Republican Party has succeeded in making an informed, intelligent discussion about health care in America impossible.