Where’s the Healthy Debate, CNN?

This article was originally published by Joe Brewer of the Rockridge Institute on November 29, 2007.

When CNN airs a YouTube debate for Republican presidential hopefuls you might think they’d select questions about the most important concerns Americans have. After all, the questions were taken from everyday citizens with a video camera and access to the web. But health care wasn’t mentioned.

As prominent health care diarist nyceve put it at Daily Kos:

I waited.

And waited.

And kept waiting.

But a single question about the plight of 47 million uninsured Americans, or the rest of us who have to wage an unending true holy war against the for-profit insurance industry, just didn’t make the CNN cut.

This omission is shocking when you consider that health care is one of the most important concerns Americans have. A recent Washington Post/ABC poll shows that health care is right up there with the occupation of Iraq and economic woes as a major issue in this presidential election.

It certainly begs the question of why CNN chose to overlook all 40 YouTube questions about health care. Is it perhaps because they know that the Republican candidates don’t have much to say about health care? After all, every general Democratic debate has included discussions of candidate plans.

Even CNN was on the ball when the same moderator for both debates, Anderson Cooper, introduced health care at the earlier Democratic YouTube debate with “One of the most popular topics that we got questions on was health care. We, frankly, were overwhelmed with videos on health care, so we put several of them together.”

Why did he let the Republicans off the hook?

Think about it. We are in the midst of a health care crisis and a major media source leaves us in the dark about the views of presidential hopefuls who, presumably, will represent all Americans in the White House if they are elected.

We need a real and open debate about health care. If CNN won’t allow it, perhaps those of us in the blogosphere will have to do it for them. (You can find additional resources about health care here.)

Try to imagine all of the presidential candidates, of both parties, responding to this hypothetical question:

I’ve always considered myself lucky to get health insurance through my employer. But when my wife was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, I found that having insurance isn’t enough to guarantee that she gets the treatment she needs. From denying tests that her doctors feel are medically necessary to a refusing to pay for treatment they already approved, insurance companies are interfering with what doctors think is best.

What would you do to provide Americans with the security of knowing that we can get the health care we need? Not only the uninsured, but people like us who are not secure even when we have insurance?

A discussion is needed of profit-first health care where profits arise through the denial of care. Consideration of the difference between more health insurance and more health care must be openly explored.

We need a public forum that promotes deeper and more substantive discussions of the major issues in America. CNN revealed a symptom of illness last night. Faced with lagging ratings, CNN turned to YouTube to create the appearance of participation. But if CNN isn’t willing to raise one of the most pressing concerns of Americans, people will turn even more to forums where they are taken seriously.


Cognitive Policy Works specializes in providing organizations and individuals with frame analysis, policy briefs, strategic advising, and training.

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