There’s a pretty striking finding buried in the new NBC/WSJ poll: It turns out nearly half of Americans believe the “death panel” fib.
The pollster read a series of predictions about the health care plan, and asked Americans whether they were “likely to happen” or “unlikely to happen.” In the “death panel” one, Americans were asked whether the health care proposal…
Will allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing medical care to the elderly
Likely to happen: 45
Unlikely to happen: 50
Nearly half the country believes that the health care proposal would empower the government to withhold medical care for the elderly. As Steve Benen notes, this “points to a political discourse that’s badly broken.”
Indeed, another finding amplifies this point. Many have argued that those believing the “death panel” fantasy are a small minority that gets its info from Fox. But this poll finds that when it comes to television, only 23% get their news from Fox — far less than believe in death panels — while a total of 57% get their news from broadcast networks or CNN.
I don’t want to make too much of that — people could be getting their “death panel” info from the internets or talk radio other sources — and as a general rule, reporters hate it when you blame this kind of thing on the media. But if we agree that the media’s general role is informing the public, clearly something’s wrong here.