What’s a Moderate Journalist Worth?

For too long our mainstream news reporters have followed the journalistic convention that Congressional Democrats who vote with Republicans are “moderates”. This is a purely Republican rhetorical construct repeatedly used by Mitch McConnell and company, which has been well dissected by Jonathan Bernstein.

During the long drawn-out negotiations with such so-called moderates about the Affordable Care Act, the law was weakened to the point that the bill’s primary accomplishment – if not overturned by the Supreme Court next spring – is that the federal government will subsidize Americans to purchase private health insurance plans. There is nothing moderate about this outcome: it leaves all the for-profit players in control of the health system and has virtually no cost controls whatsoever. 

The latest triumph of so-called moderation occurred yesterday when Democratic “moderates” in the Senate supported the Republicans’ filibuster of one piece of President Obama’s Jobs bill. Tonight, the News Hour duly dubbed the renegades “moderates”. What is moderate about voting against a proposal to keep police, firemen, and teachers on the job at the cost of a ½ of one percent tax on incomes over $1million? An individual with an annual income of $1.1 million would pay $500 more in taxes beginning with the 2013 tax year! What is not moderate about that? The tax would keep hundreds of thousands of public employees at work. The president had proposed a tax increase for household incomes over $250,000, but Senate leaders reduced the tax take to a surcharge on millionaires. Even Karl Rove’s outfit’s polls found that surcharge was supported by two-thirds of the American people.

When will the News Hour and other “moderate” news reporters wise up and escape the Republican narrative?