Accuracy in Media

joan walsh

Salon editor Joan Walsh isn’t very happy with fellow liberals Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker and Ezra Klein of The Washington Post for their criticism of the disastrous launch of the Obamacare website:

As predictably as night follows day, on Monday the media establishment pivoted away from obsessing about GOP extremism and the party’s alleged ‘civil war’ to the ‘train wreck’ that is, allegedly, the Affordable Care Act.

And liberals helped lead the pivot.

Don’t get me wrong: The problems with Healthcare.gov are real, and disturbing, and must be fixed asap. (Think Progress has a dispassionate assessment here.) But excuse me if I believe the President knows that without my telling him. It’s like watching the 21st century version of the rise of the Democratic Leadership Council, and I feel the way I did back then: On the one hand, yes, it’s important for Democrats to acknowledge when government screws up, and to fix it.

On the other hand, when liberals rush conscientiously to do that, they only encourage the completely unbalanced and unhinged coverage of whatever the problem may be.

What upset Walsh was a tweet by Lizza asking who will be more discredited this year; conservatives for pushing us to the brink of default, or liberals for failure of health care exchanges?

Walsh saw this as a false equivalence and tweeted as much to Lizza. He responded by saying that the ACA is the most important liberal project in decades and if it fails it would be a complete disaster for liberalism.

But as Walsh pointed out, much to her dismay Lizza wasn’t the only liberal to attack the administration over the website:

…The Washington Post’s great Ezra Klein then picked up the cudgel, telling the crew at MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe,’ where every Obama misstep foretells the end of his presidency, that the Health and Human Services Department is covering up a massive ‘management failure,’ because they had enough pre-launch information to know there were going to be massive problems, and neither adjusted their rollout plan or prepared the public.

Screen Shot Ezra Klein tweetWalsh actually thought that Klein’s remarks were fair, but complained that he then proceeded to tweet about his experiences trying to sign up for healthcare over the phone, which he failed to do.

For Walsh, this brief moment of liberal honesty is heresy. Even though she admits that the website’s rollout problems are real and disturbing, she can’t believe that loyal liberals like Lizza and Klein would actually dare to publicly discuss them. In her mind that is akin to aiding the enemy—the conservatives—in their quest to defund or repeal Obamacare.

But the criticism of the Obamacare website hasn’t been limited to just conservative media outlets, or to Lizza and Klein. The Washington Post, The New York Times, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and even to a small degree MSNBC—though not Chris Matthews—have reported on the numerous problems the website rollout has had and continues to have.

Walsh isn’t really all that upset with Lizza and Klein, but she is using them as an excuse to mask her anger at how the Obama administration’s ineptitude managed to shift the discussion from the GOP and the government shutdown to Obamcare and all of its problems. She realizes that can’t be good for the Democrats as we head into the 2014 elections.





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