Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Unbiased Media: "Help Obama!"

Last night Donald was chuckling in amazement over a story he found on Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper/magazine he regularly checks online.

Before I go further, perhaps I should mention that I've seen some people refer to Aftonbladet as yellow journalism. Donald says that it's simply an "evening newspaper". Apparently, the Swedish evening papers are less hard news and more geared toward entertainment than are the morning papers. (It may be that way here, too. I probably ought to know that, but I don't. Count me among the horrible masses bringing print newspapers steadily toward extinction. Sorry!) Oh, and Donald also points out that this is the most widely circulated evening newspaper in Sweden-- so it's not like it's something that only a handful of people ever read.

After explaining what was so amusing in the article, he translated it into English for me. I thought some of you might also be interested in reading it. We already knew it, but here's more proof that the European media is just as unbiased as the American media.

Here's the story in Swedish:
Hjälp Obama!

President Barack Obamas ambition att reformera det amerikanska sjukvårdssystemet (dyrast i världen, på 37:e plats mätt i kvalitet och med 40 miljoner medborgare oförsäkrade) stöter som bekant på patrull. Förslaget att en statlig sjukförsäkring som är öppen för alla ska få konkurrera med de privata försäkringsbolagen har utlöst en förtalskampanj från den privata industrin. Fejkade gräsrotsrörelser larmar om att reformen förvandlar USA till Sovjetunionen, och högermedierna ger eldunderstöd. Kampanjen fungerar, stödet för sjukvårdsreformen sjunker och aktierna i försäkringsindustrin stiger. Hela reformen är allvarligt hotad.

Nu uppmanar oss européer att slå näven i bordet. Via ett innovativt upprop har vi chansen att berätta för amerikanerna att våra offentligt finansierade sjukvårdssystem faktiskt fungerar bra. Kampanjen hade bara tre dagar efter starten samlat 100 000 namn. Skriv under och sprid ordet.

Dan Josefsson

And here's Donald's translation:
Help Obama!

President Barack Obama's ambition to reform the American health care system (most expensive in the world, ranked 37th in terms of quality, and with 40 million citizens uninsured) is as you know meeting some resistance. The proposal that a governmental health insurance that is open for everyone will be allowed to compete with the private insurance companies has triggered a campaign of slander from the private industry. Fake grassroots campaigns are making outcries that the reform will turn the U.S. into the Soviet Union, and the right-wing media gives fire support. The campaign is working; the support for the health care reform is sinking and insurance industry stocks are raising. The whole reform is under serious threat.

Now is urging us Europeans to put our foot down. Through an innovative appeal we now have the chance to tell the Americans that our publicly financed health care system actually works well. The campaign had collected 100,000 names after only three days. Sign it and spread the word.

Dan Josefsson

I think Donald was amazed by the fact that this article was trying to pass as an unbiased representation of facts, while the journalist clearly supported one side over the other and failed to give both sides of the story. (Heck, the guy even urges his readers to join a campaign supporting one side over the other!) It is pretty unbelievable. The way it's written, this is editorial material-- not news material.

Personally, as an American, I don't particularly care for the idea that some Europeans think they should have diddly-squat to say about our health care system. Give your opinion? Sure. But "put our foot down"? That language is a bit strong. (It reminds me of the 2004 presidential election, when some people who didn't even live in the U.S.-- much less claim citizenship-- were blogging about the fact that they felt the whole world should have a say in the election. Oh really? How'd they feel if Americans wanted to have a say in their elections? No answer necessary.)

Anyway-- why should Swedes or Europeans in general care how health care in the U.S. is run? Frankly, it's none of their business. A generous appraisal of their motivation might be that some people are genuinely happy with their health care system and think it could work in the U.S., too. It might alleviate the suffering of the supposed millions going without. (Of course, if they're basing their opinion of American health care on articles like the one above, they're not getting the full picture-- at all.) I may be lacking in generosity, though, because I suspect that many of the 100,000 who had already given their names did so for less noble reasons. (You know what they say about misery loving company. . .)

To those who point to success stories in European-style nationalized health care, I say this: Not all countries are the same. Just because something works in one place, for one group of people, doesn't mean it will work everywhere for everyone. It also doesn't mean that it's what the American people want for themselves. There's no single right way to handle these things. The United States is not a European nation, and most of us like it that way. No offense. It's just. . . is diversity only wonderful when it comes to our physical appearances and cultural heritage? What's wrong with diverse nations with diverse ways of taking care of things like health care?

- - - - - - -

And while we're on the subject of politics:

White House spokesman Bill Burton, defending Obama's plan to take a weekend trip to Camp David at the beginning of September, said, "As I recall, the previous president [took] quite a bit of vacation himself, and I don't think anyone bemoaned that."

*SNORT* Funny, I seem to recall people complaining about that exact thing! Or "bemoaning" it, if you will. I don't have a problem with any of our presidents taking some vacation time. They need to unwind every now and then, just like any other human being. However, it was surprising to hear the media reporting the vacation in Martha's Vineyard as his first vacation as president. I guess the recent tours of national parks and the non-official-business things he and his family did abroad didn't count as recreation? (And we won't even bring up the infamous Date Night excursion to NYC. Oops. Guess I just did.)

Edited to add:
The Prez is just lucky Donald's not in charge. He doesn't think world leaders should even be allowed to drink alcohol, since they (theoretically, at least) have to be ready to make major decisions at all hours of the day and night. It does kind of make sense. I mean, do we really want someone who's flat-out drunk or hungover-- or even just buzzed-- making critical decisions that could affect the fate of the world?

This subject comes up between us every time we hear about things like Obama inviting people to have a beer with him or the Great Beer Summit of 2009. Meanwhile, I'm just rolling my eyes and gagging on the staginess of it all. "Hey, folks! Did you catch that? I'm just like you! I drink Bud Light!"