Monday, August 17, 2009

why i twitter #1: you twitter

on yesterday's this week with george stephanopolis, guest host jake tapper (abc's senior white house correspondent) began his questioning of secretary of health and human services kathleen sebelius with this:
"Critics say they're uneasy about end of life care measures being discussed within the context of cost-cutting. Can you understand that discomfort?"
tapper framed the question that way, very specifically, twice.

the issue being debated in health care reform relates to reimbursing doctors for consultations about hospice care, living wills, and more, should a patient and a patient's family want to discuss those things. this would actually involve spending, not cost-cutting.

i was watching on dvr, so i hit pause and asked tapper about it.
tony: why keep referring to "end of life issue within the context of cost-cutting"? it involves spending, no? (paying docs to do it?)

jake: that's the argument from critics.

tony: i know, you framed it that way, but it's not true. so why repeat it twice? you asked it as though it were fact.

jake: (the president) and other (democrats) have raised the issue of end of life care in the context of cost cutting.

(tapper then referred me to this new york times article.)

tony: to me, the nyt article is a wider discussion. you were asking (health secretary) sebelious about (end of life) issues in relation to specific health care reform.

jake: yes, but look at part about end of life in that nyt story. (the president) raises (the issue) in context of cost cutting. that's NOT to say he's right or wrong, just that the notion makes some people uncomfortable, (and) not just republicans.

tony: i see that, yes. but to me, jake, it seems "leading" for you to frame the question in that way.

jake: not leading - asking her to address criticisms (and) tough (questions.)
to my mind, tapper's wording the question the way did implied something that is not true: end of life + cost cutting = the whole "we're going to get rid of granny if she's not a productive member of society," sarah palin death panel fantasy.

still, in the show's opening and later the round table segment, tapper called the death panel rumors "false claims," and "not factually correct," and pressed republican ed gillespie to repudiate them (something gillespie had a fair amount of trouble doing, instead saying "we have to be thoughtful in our language.")

but i digress. my point here is this: tapper and i had this brief discussion over twitter.

people often ask, their faces twisted into worried grimaces, "you don't twitter you?"

when i say yes, i'm sure they think, "oh, it's all about seeing aston kutcher have his chest waxed." and while that's, of course, vitally important, so is the ability to have a conversation with the guy who just walked off the set of a national news program. and to his credit, he responded and engaged in discussion (something he does quite often.)

now, i'm not comparing the two, but what if you could have had a little conversation like that with walter cronkite? or david brinkley?

what might you have asked?


  1. I would ask Cronkite what he really thought of Dan Rather. Or Katie Couric.

  2. Cronkite would weep.


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