NESRI Media Center

REPORT: Media Repeating Insurance Industry Talking Points

Media and opinion polls have regularly described the key health policy decisions facing the country as a choice between government and private insurance. This misrepresentation depicts a choice between demonized "government health care" versus "private insurance" in which insurance companies are rendered invisible. In fact, the term “government health insurance" obscures the role corporations play in weakening programs we traditionally think of as public. It biases public-opinion polls and reporting, skews public understanding, shields insurance companies from public scrutiny, and warps democratic decision-making.

By reviewing leaked memos and more than thirty years of news reports and public-opinion polls, NESRI reveals that journalists, pollsters, and scholars only adopted this framing after the insurance industry crafted it and, with a cadre of Republican strategists and right-wing think tanks and media, pressed it into common use.

Nonpartisan media, polling, and policy organizations have an obligation to drop the insurance industry's biased framing. They can do this by naming the role of both government and insurance companies in the health care system, or by contrasting private with public insurance.

Read NESRI's full report, Parroting The Right: How media and polling company adoption of insurance industry spin warps democracy. Then take action, and demand media stop repeating right wing talking points!

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