By Thomas R. Temin
Media and Government Consulting
If you read the daily, traditional media, you might believe these “facts”:
- 50 million Americans have no access to health care.
- The cap-and-trade system being debated in Congress will help the U.S. reduce carbon dioxide emissions and thereby help reduce global warming.
- The stimulus bill, formally known as the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, is pumping $787 billion into the economy and creating several million jobs.
- General Motors had a hidebound, political culture and that is why it failed. The new CEO has set out to change all that.
- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says windmills off the Eastern shore of the U.S. could generate 1,000 gigawatts of electricity.
The last statement is true, but it is patently absurd. The others represent the Obama administration party line, but contain demonstrable half-truths, falsehood and highly debatable points.
Yet this is what people read day in and day out in the newspapers, and what they hear on television. One fact that is true: politicians and political activists of all stripes are using statistics and highly interpreted “facts” to try and remake the American economy in an extremely expensive and risky set of schemes.
And so there is a perfect opportunity for the trade, business-to-business press to cut through the nonsense with its deep knowledge of narrow markets and the economics that drive them. Engineering publications can sort myth from reality about wind power. Management and finance-focused publications should be able to write in more deeply informed ways about companies like General Motors or Bank of America.
Yet the trade press is filled with optimistic headlines about how programs like the stimulus bill is helping our industry, whatever it might be. It is mainly the bloggers who are analyzing and finding the holes in popular shibboleths. There are exceptions. A story this month in Medical Economics blew holes in the growing disaster for physicians that is Massachusetts mandatory health coverage. But for the most part, you could hardly tell from the B2B media that the federal government is on the verge of upending perhaps 50 percent of the U.S. economy. Of all times, this is when the perception and discernment of people who know what they are talking about needs to come to the fore and join the debate.
Listen to Temin weekday mornings 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at Federal News Radio 1500 AM in Washington D.C. and read his federal market analysis fortnightly at FedInsider.com and follow his IT and media blog posts at Meritalk.com.