It's a little know fact that people tend to read the headline of an article and not the article itself. It's a sad commentary about how we consume news but it also means it's incumbent upon a news outlet to be accurate when crafting a title for an article. It sounds like an esoteric concern but it's a responsibility most writers take seriously. It also means it's a responsibility can be easily abused. Take, for instance, this headline from The Hill:
Club for Growth opposes Senate ObamaCare repeal bill.
The Club for Growth is a heavy hitter among conservative political pressure groups, "scoring" how Republicans vote on certain bills with the explicit threat of making life a living hell for those that do not adhere to conservative orthodoxy. If they oppose the bill, it's a big deal. But The Hill neglected to point out the reason why in the headline:
McIntosh said the Club for Growth will support the bill's passage if it makes three changes: allow insurers that sell ObamaCare plans to sell other plans that don't comply with ObamaCare requirements or allow states to opt out of all ObamaCare regulations, allow people to pay for premiums with health savings accounts (HSAs), and repeal all ObamaCare taxes.
The Club dresses these demands up in pretty words about lowering premiums and giving consumers more freedom but that's not what they're asking for. The requirements they want to do away with are the ones that force insurance companies to sell insurance that actually insures the consumer. Before the ACA, you could buy "insurance" that covered almost nothing. You thought you were covered in case of an accident or an illness but the fine print was so convoluted that only a lawyer would know you were only covered for colds, sprains and maybe stitches. Anything more serious and, whoops!, your "insurance" was worthless.
Health savings accounts are equally worthless as they work great right up until something serious (and expensive) happens like a pregnancy, accident or illness. Then, whoops!, you rapidly blow through your saved up money on deductibles and that's the end of that. Better luck next time, yeah?
But the main thing the Club is after is repealing taxes on the rich. Shocking, I know, but you'd never know that from the headline. Such a vague headline lets the reader impose any value they want on it. Why, the Club must be opposing it because it's so bad for the American people! Let me just share the link because I'm opposed to the GOP's bill, too! Remember, almost 60% of people only skim the headline and nothing else.
With that in mind, The Hill made a conscious decision to not explain the reason when it would have been simplicity itself to do so:
Demanding larger tax cuts, Club for Growth opposes Senate ObamaCare repeal bill
Pushing for a bill closer to the House version, Club for Growth opposes Senate ObamaCare repeal
Unhappy with only partial repeal, Club for Growth opposes Senate ObamaCare bill
Any one of those would accurately relay the intent of the Club while not being unduly prejudicial like my own headline fix (I don't pretend to be neutral, so save your criticism) that sits at the top of the page. It would, however, leave no doubt about what they want and why they want it and that's taboo in the world of Beltway media. The Hill is a creature of false equivalence and the "he said/she said" garbage that passes for journalism among insiders. It's not hard to understand why; The Hill is all about inside information and if they lose access to Republicans, there goes their 50 % of their scoops. This is how you get an article devoid of any analysis whatsoever. It might as well be a transcript since all it does is relay what the Club says. While some outlets like The Washington Post and The New York Times learned some lessons from the journalistic catastrophe that was the 2016 elections, other like The Hill have learned nothing at all.
We need to do better before the midterms or we're going to drown in a festering swamp of "alternative facts" and fake media narratives that give Trump and the Republicans a pass no matter how outrageous the lie.
There are 495 days left to the 2018 elections.
- This article kills fascists
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