MEDIA

Press Can't Wait For Public Option To Die

Over at Mediaite, Tommy Christopher notes the panting way the media has dug into reporting on the demise of the public option. See, now that the media believes the public option to be dead, they can finally do what they do best -- ride in and start shooting the corpse.

But was it really news when Secretary Of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius put forth that the public option is not essential to health care reform? Says Christopher, who has actually been paying attention: Not really!

Ex-sueeze me? That's the big news? This is one of those questions that come up so often at White House briefings, we can all recite the answer like a well-dressed Rocky Horror audience. "The President strongly supports a public health insurance option, but the main goal is to provide health care reform that results in quality, affordable care for every American." (throw toast at Gibbs)

Christopher notes that the press has been spoiling to declare the public option extinct from minute one. All along, the White House has been alternately floating trial balloons marked, "maybe not" and just as quickly, and reliably, walking them back. The White House, today, is once again doing this very thing: Walking back the notion that they aren't firmly committed to the public option.

Christopher notes that the battle for a public option is essentially the White House's to lose, and that the "question is whether or not they realize what's at stake."

I really can't fault any of that! And I think Christopher is spot on here, as well:

An even bigger question is, why is the media so ready to eulogize the public option? While recent polls have reflected slipping support for health care reform as it is being debated, those same polls either show overwhelming support for the public option, or they simply don't ask.

I've often remarked that the media has worked hard to avoid mentioning those polls that indicate consistent and strong public support for the public option. It has been a truth to which the media seems to have strong allergy.

That said, I'll offer a prediction. If the public option ends up off the table in a final bill, you can bet your sweet bippy that the media will suddenly rediscover those polls, loudly questioning how the White House and the Democratic majorities could have possibly failed to give their constituents the very thing for which they have loudly clamored. And this will be a very good question, asked months after it would have mattered.

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not? Also, please send tips to tv@huffingtonpost.com -- learn more about our media monitoring project here.]