Tuesday, April 20, 2021

What U.S. Elites Disdain Is What Their Sockpuppets Term "Divisive"

FAIR |  New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (Twitter, 12/29/20) described a $2,000 Covid relief check as “divisive,” even though 75% of Americans (and 72% of Republicans) wanted the government to prioritize another universal payment. All too often, words such as “divisive,” “contentious” or “controversial” are used merely as media codewords meaning “ideas unpopular with the ruling elite”—what FAIR calls “not journalistically viable.”

Medicare for All is a prime example of this. At least since the issue began receiving national media attention as a result of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, a majority of Americans have supported some form of national, publicly funded healthcare system. Some polls have found nearly three in four support the idea, including a majority of Republican voters. Yet corporate media continue to disparage universal public health insurance, labeling it “divisive” (Axios, 2/14/20), “controversial” (Christian Science Monitor, 6/4/19; Time, 10/24/19; New York Times, 1/1/20) or “politically perilous” (Associated Press, 3/25/19).

In an article entitled “Medicare for All Is Divisive (in the Democratic Party),” the New York Times (3/18/19) described giving people free healthcare “immensely contentious,” framing it as a risky and enormously expensive gamble that centrists in swing districts could ill afford to take coming up to an election. The reality, of course, was the opposite: Every single Democratic incumbent in a swing district who endorsed Medicare for All won reelection in 2020. The same cannot be said for those that did not endorse it.

There can be few policies that would so directly and immediately benefit so many Americans as raising the minimum wage to $15 (though that’s still not enough to afford rent in most US states). Forty percent of the country told Reuters/Ipsos pollsters in February that they or someone close to them would be positively impacted by such a change. The same poll found that supporters of raising the minimum wage outnumbered opponents by 25 percentage points. Regardless, increasing it is often described as “divisive” (e.g., Bloomberg, 10/2/17; Politico, 3/16/21; Delaware News Journal, 3/10/21).

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