(you can buy the original here)
Mara Liasson's statement on last Tuesday's ATC caught my attention. She was reflecting on Joe Biden's statements made at the time that the Obama/Democratic gift to the insurance industry was signed into law:
"The final girder in the great liberal project - Biden knew what he was talking about. The health care bill will be the last great middle class entitlement, says Jim Kessler of the policy think-tank Third Way."
Well, that was a doozy. And Jim Kessler of this "Third Way" think tank didn't let up:
"With the passage of health care reform, the 80-year Democratic quest to build the best possible safety net is essentially over. And the Democratic Party has to shift from being a party primarily concerned with economic security and dividing up the pie to one that is primarily concerned with economic growth and expanding the pie."
Did you get that? The party's over folks. You know all that redistribution of wealth that the Democrats have been fighting for all these years (hee...hee...) and that glorious safety net (hee...hee...) - those namby-pamby days are over! Too bad there wasn't a journalist around to remind Mr. Third Way that the pie has been growing and growing - it's just that one segment of the population has been eating the biggest pieces.
I wondered about this creepy "Third Way" tank of thinksters. Who are they and why are they getting so much airtime on NPR? No surprise: Third Way is a basic "Blue Dog" corporate-lovin' Democratic think tank - which explains why it has found such a warm welcome at NPR - and, with Obama's appointment of Third Way William Daley, it's star is on the rise.
This infatuation with Third Way seemed so typical of NPR's love of the corporate center that I wasn't going to bother posting about it until the tragedy of the massacre in Arizona broke, and NPR weighed in with it's personal connections to Representative Giffords.
On Weekend Edition Sunday, Scott Simon - lauded Representative Giffords and revealed,
"Our families are friends. We don't talk a lot about politics when we get together as much as kids and parents, great quesadillas, and all the new movies we never get a chance to see. We swap jokes and dreams."
It struck me as odd that a reporter would be close friends with the government officials they are supposed to be scrutinizing - and show no qualms in revealing that information. But Simon is always eager to show his caring, emotional side...and this was an obviously an opportunity he couldn't pass up. Then, on Sunday's ATC Andrea Seabrook had this interchange with Guy Raz:
[Raz] "Andrea, I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to ask you to step out of your reporter's shoes for a moment and just talk about Gabrielle Giffords. So many people seemed to love this person on both sides of the aisle, and you've come to know her pretty well yourself, haven't you?"[Seabrook] "Yes...Gabrielle Giffords is a wonderful woman. Aside from her politics, we members of the press up here often work with these members of Congress and their staff so closely that we come to think of these people as colleagues. And often, we care more...about how a person is as a person than we do about their politics."
This is truly astounding. Representative Giffords may be a wonderful person, but you begin to suspect that NPR reporters think the Fourth Estate is a social club where they get to be friends with the powerful, instead of an institution that should keep a check on power (though that institution may be so far gone as to be dead). Hearing these unabashed declarations of friendship and collegiality made me wonder how many other officials (military, corporate, and governmental) NPR reporters count among their friends - and how these friendships affect the news that finds its way onto the air.
And that brings me back to Third Way and the tragedy of the assassination attempt on Rep. Giffords. I thought her name seemed familiar, and then it dawned on me that when I was researching the Third Way think tank earlier in the week - I had seen her name and picture on the Third Way website: she's one of the honorary co-chairs of Third Way. Seems like the Beltway social club is a small world after all...