links for 2009-09-06
Hoisted from Comments: Allan H. Meltzer, Lehman, and AIG

New York Times Crashed-and-Burned-and-Smoking Watch (Kevin Sack Edition)

Kevin Sack of the New York Times emails:

Sorry, I guess I didn't get the directive saying we should only report the views of electoral winners. Sometimes the commissariat loses my email address.

Kevin Sack

The context is his very bad New York Times A1 story of August 29.

Dr. Steve B.:

NY Times Gets Played: ThinkProgress has connected the specific dots between AHIP and their corporate lobbyist friends and the various channels and front groups and astroturfing that have been getting all the attention for the past several months. Much of it is connected to the corporate consulting firm "Democracy Data & Communications." ... [T]he same day as the ThinkProgress piece, which pointed out that even the Wall Street Journal had already previously reported that the insurance industry had actively mobilized 50,000 of it employees to work against health reform, we get a pathetic sob sister whine of what sounds like a public relations planted script in the sometimes not terrible NY Times.... [Insurance e]mployees are being upset that they are being made out to be villains, just because they are choosing not only to engage in murder by spreadsheet, but to go out of their way to defend it against the barest minimum of civilized reform. Apparently Kevin Sack can't tell when he is being played by an organzied PR campaign...

Kevin Sack did indeed get very badly played and spun by Humana. Here is his lead:

Dealing With Being the Health Care ‘Villains’: Max Shireman says that when he looks in the mirror he does not see the monster the politicians have made him out to be. Sure, he could stand to lose a few pounds. And there was that speeding ticket last year for going 40 in a 30-mile-an-hour zone. But in his mind, he is just “a hard-working guy,” the son of an autoworker, who put himself through college, bought a house in the suburbs and occasionally volunteers at a local hospice. His indulgences, he said, are limited to sampling local microbrews and watching “Top Chef” with his wife. “I’m certainly not villainous or immoral in any way, shape or form,” said Mr. Shireman, 40, a project manager for Humana, the country’s fourth-largest health insurer.

So Mr. Shireman does not like it one bit when he hears President Obama declare that Americans “are being held hostage by health insurance companies.” Or when the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, characterizes insurers as “villains” who have “been immoral all along.” In interviews this week at Humana’s headquarters in downtown Louisville, where the company was founded in 1961, employees offered suggestions about why their industry has come in for such heavy treatment. Some said they were paying a price for what Ms. Pelosi has called a “shock and awe” campaign by the industry against Democratic proposals to create a new government insurance plan, which would compete with commercial insurers...

Kevin: all we are asking of you is that you try to do your job. At the moment, you are not. If you don't try to do your job, there is no reason for us to read you--or for anybody to pay you.

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?