Jane’s appearance on MSNBC today was pitch perfect punditry.
Not only was Jane beautiful, in control of the facts, and poised, but I especially love the way Jane smacked down Andrea Mitchell’s beltway Conventional Wisdom. When Mitchell started suggesting that the co-ops were the middle ground, Jane turned this onto supporters of the co-ops.
Mitchell: Kent Conrad and other more conservative Democrats who have been negotiating these compromises in Senate Finance say that there will be no bill if there’s a public option.
Hamsher: Well, with 76% of the country in favor of it, you’ve got Democrats like Joe Crowley, like Charlie Rangel, like Ed Markey who are going to have trouble going back to their districts that have 22% Democratic advantage and saying "I gave the farm away to the insurance companies."
Mitchell: So you’ve got the House that’s committed to this, that say they won’t do anything if it doesn’t have a public option, and you’ve got the Senate saying they won’t do it if there is a public option. Is there a compromise there that does involve those co-ops, or is it better to have nothing?
Hamsher: Well, the compromise is the public plan–that’s the compromise down from single payer. So that is the middle ground. And frankly I would like to see Democrats like Evan Bayh and like Max Baucus stand on the floor of the Senate and filibuster the Democratic program that 76% of the country …
Mitchell: But Jane that’s not gonna happen. It’s not where they are.
Hamsher: Uh, why not?
Mitchell: Because that’s not where they see their constituency. That’s not where Evan Bayh sees more conservative Democrats in his state of Indiana.
Hamsher: Evan Bayh’s wife is on the Board of Wellpoint. So I think that he’s going to have a problem doing something that tanks the Democratic plan that strongly favors something that he has a financial interest in. There’s a whole lot of insurance money going to these Senators and that’s going to be something that people are going to be looking into if that’s how this winds up.
Mitchell: Civil war?
Hamsher: I think that there’s going to be a problem. I think that the White House did not factor in that members of the House would have a very difficult time in their heavily leaning Democratic districts taking a bad vote and there are enough of them that could keep this thing from passing without Obama stepping in and committing to get the public plan that he campaigned on.
Look at what was happening here. Mitchell was trying to talk down to Jane, to suggest that she was being naive for suggesting that Bayh, and not progressives, should back down and accept the public option. In doing so, Mitchell was committing journalistic fraud–anyone presenting these issues and pretending this is about Bayh’s "conservative Democrats in his state" and not his wife and donors is simply committing journalistic fraud. So Jane turned it on Mitchell, suggesting Mitchell was the stupid one.
Mitchell’s correctly presenting DC Beltway wisdom here. But Jane’s demonstrating the degree to which the CW that Mitchell presents as news hides the underlying truths behind this issue.