Monday, June 28, 2010

As Goes the Fourth Estate

Anyone who doubts the wisdom of the founding fathers in treating of the news media as a Fourth Estate, should read this report and despair.
The opening line:
Ninety percent of physicians surveyed said doctors overtest and overtreat to protect themselves from malpractice lawsuits.
Notice what it DOESN'T say: that 90% of doctors actually overtest for fear of lawsuits. This is the same kind of survey that discovered that the majority of people believe American schools are failing but a majority believed that their schools were fine. Its all those other doctors doing too many tests. Someone actually thought that it would contribute to our health-care policy debate to do this survey. To report this survey as a major headline on MSNBC. This is crap! This why our democracy is moribund. Can you imagine how many people will walk away from this headline with the "fact" that 90% of doctor really overtreat for fear of malpractice. The article waits until THE VERY LAST PARAGRAPH to point out that this survey does not say that! Couldn't that have appeared at the top where context would have been useful?

It gets better... the co-author of the survey report "noted that defensive medicine is estimated to cost the U.S. health care system billions of dollars each year" but not before relaying that she tends to order more tests, "particularly if it's a high-risk patient." Well, no shit! Of course you are more careful with high-risk patients. They are high-risk. You know, more likely to benefit from extra tests.

So this the kind of non-information that America is being subjected to as we navigate our way through rocky times. I suppose the media is now in the storytelling business. The news must fit the established narrative or the "audience" will be lost. Then again, I was never a fan of LOST.

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