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Monday, August 31, 2009

This Weekend in Media (with updated bonus item)

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 7:53 AM

Just a couple media gleanings over the weekend.

--  Interesting piece in the New York Times magazine -- complete with a photo of angry white guys taken in Kittanning -- about Barack Obama's relationship with older voters. The story, by Matt Bai, observes that one thing that plauges Obama's efforts to overhaul health care is the fact that he has never connected with the elderly. The takeaway:

[I]t's probably time for us to update our notions of elderly Americans and how their worldviews were formed. We are inclined to imagine our oldest citizens as products of the New Deal, voters whose earliest memories engendered a lasting faith in the goodness of government. But ... a 70-year-old American today, born in 1939, probably has no personal memory of F.D.R., but he would have lived through the pain of disappearing manufacturing jobs and family farms, and the rapid deterioration of urban neighborhoods and schools, conditions unabated by government experiments in welfare and public housing. Wooed by Ronald Reagan during their prime earning years, these voters may not be nearly as sympathetic to Obama’s vision of activist government as Democrats might have assumed.

As Bai notes, conversative strategists have long reached out to older voters on just this basis. No doubt it explains why I've been seeing TV ads locally warning about what Obama's healthcare reform would supposedly do to Medicare.

Also in this week's issue of the NY Times magazine: Cyril Wecht playing a cameo role in a piece about the euthanization of patients in a New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina. 

-- Not once but twice this weekend, I watched WPXI's Stu Brown reporting "live" on shootings happening in and around the city ... without having any information about what the hell was going on. The first report, on Saturday night, followed what Brown said might be a shooting between police and ... um ... someone. Brown had gone to police headquarters for what was supposed to be a press conference, but then wasn't. But the shooting, or whatever it was, definitely happened in Mt. Oliver. Yep, Mt. Oliver. So ... uh ... back to you in the studio. 

Almost the same thing happened Sunday night, when Brown reported on a SWAT deployment in Wilkinsburg that involved, uh, someone. And the police cordoned off a few blocks of the area to deal with a, uh, situation. Hard to say what that was about, but Stu pledged to work on it. 

Tough weekend for Stu. And obviously not a great one for me either, since I apparently had nothing better to do than watch WPXI's 11 o'clock news. 

-- Speaking of WPXI, this piece about Sheraden residents complaining about the potential closure of their post office was interesting for one reason (if you don't live in Sheraden): Mayoral candidate Kevin Acklin was on hand to make his own feelings known. What Acklin said wasn't so interesting -- "Once you lose a post office so critical to the neighborhood, you never get it back" -- but it's a good sign for his campaign that he was there. I think we're all tired of watching Luke Ravenstahl's rivals act as if the East End represents the whole city ... Acklin's efforts to engage with long-forgotten neighborhoods are a sign that, whatever happens in November, at least we'll be seeing some different backdrops for the drama this time around. 

-- UPDATED BONUS ITEM: I'd be remiss if I didn't note THIS blog post, (which I found thanks to DailyKos) apparently written about Heather Sherba, one of the wounded survivors from the LA Fitness shooting. The blogger notes that Sherba is struggling with medical bills -- because she is looking for work and uninsured -- and decries the fact that friends and family are having to hold charity car washes to pay the bills. 

As other online commentators have noted, what's interesting about this piece is that at least two of our local TV stations have reported on these charitable acts ... but with a much sunnier perspective. They chose to emphasize the reassuring angle that Pittsburghers have turned out to help Sherba, and isn't our city wonderful. Which it is. But Jeebus. How about a little reporting on what kind of society leaves a 22-year-old woman -- with a nursing degree, for chrissake -- on her own to figure out how to pay for being an innocent shooting victim? 

As far as I can tell, of our local TV stations, only KDKA even broached the subject.

No wonder it's so hard to reform health care in this country

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