What Happened to Health Care?

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Every White House tries to control media narratives. They frequently succeed.

Early this week, for example, the CIA Inspector General’s report from 2004 was released, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a probe of detainee abuse, the White House announced its plan to create a special interrogation group for high-value detainees, the government released more Office of Legal Counsel memos from the Bush era, and Michael Jackson’s death was ruled a homicide. The administration can, and almost certainly did, plan those first four. The Jackson thing was a bonus for them.

You see, the health care debate wasn’t going well. The president’s poll numbers were falling, too much attention was being lavished on nutcases and liars, and there wasn’t anything Congress was going to do to move forward, since, well, they’re on vacation. There’s nothing like foreign policy, torture, and terrorism to swing the media’s attention away from domestic issues. A pretty solid rule of White House press strategy is that if something comes out on a Monday, they want you to be talking and writing about it. If it comes out on a Friday afternoon, they don’t. The Ben Bernanke news was planned, too, of course: he doesn’t have to be reappointed for months. But hey, it all worked: health care’s off the front pages, and the president can enjoy his vacation, at least for a few days. Thank whoever killed Michael Jackson. But you can also thank the White House press strategy team.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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