Media Matters

* Let’s hear it for Kentucky. The Bluegrass State has become the how-to state when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. More than a half-million residents have signed up for its version of the ACA exchange. That’s more than 80 percent of the state’s uninsured.

Much credit goes to Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat in a disproportionately poor, decidedly Republican state. He was honest and made the case that big government was helping with a big problem: too many uninsured Kentuckians. And they doubled down on preparation. Its website worked from the get-go.

But marketing was critical. Polls–both national and in-state–have shown that the ACA is more popular than “Obamacare.” Connotation counts. Embarrassingly so. As a result, in Kentucky the ACA exchange version is called “Kynect.” No need to traffic in “Obamacare,” a self-disparaging, demonized term.

But let’s not forget how that demonization occurred.

It didn’t happen just because it helped expedite a partisan political strategy of Republicans running against President Barack Obama in their home-state races. It also happened because the media, especially electronic, was an eponymous enabler. “Obamacare” was right in the media’s short-hand wheelhouse–as well as a politically partisan taunt.

And it still, regrettably–and disgracefully–continues.

* The page-three, above-the-fold Tampa Bay Times headline summed it up: “Atheist’s Appeal Makes Local History.” Indeed, giving a recent invocation before the Largo City Commission was Joe Reinhardt, a member of Atheists of Florida. This was a first for Pinellas County. A couple of years ago Pinellas Park officials refused such a request.

But now, as a result of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Reinhardt was welcomed to the lectern to give the invocation. He gave it in the form of a moment of silence, which is what his group advocates.

Arguably, this issue has now peaked–unless, frankly, it matters that much to invoke the Deity before ruling on liquor licenses and zoning ordinances. Presumably, this will be the last time this constitutes real “news.”

And to minimize emotion and “newsworthiness” such future speakers might better be referred to as “secular”–whether they represent Atheists of Florida, Scientology, The Humanist Institute, the Moose Lodge or the Rotary Club.

* We now know that former President George W. Bush has a book, a “personal biography” of his father, coming out in November. This much we can be assured of in advance: No way does “W” truly explain why he preferred the advice of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove over that of his father, former President George H.W. Bush.

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