Consider what happened in September , when the insurance industry released a study purporting to show that reform would cause insurance premiums to skyrocket. The Senate Finance Committee—the logjam in the legislative process—was set to vote on its bill in less than 48 hours. The study, commissioned by the insurance lobby and conducted by a private accounting firm, represented a clear effort to undermine support. It was the kind of move that lobbying groups make all the time—and, in the old days, it might have worked, since nobody would have seen through the study’s tilted assumptions until, as with McCaughey’s old article, the damage had been done. But within hours of its publication, several blogs, including this one, had published critiques showing just how flawed the study was. The critiques circulated in Washington and provoked a backlash against the insurers. Wavering Democrats said they were offended by the effort at political sabotage; the Finance Committee went on to pass the bill, as it had originally planned.
Not that fact-checking was the media’s sole job over the last year. Speaking for myself, I certainly spent far more time on the more mundane task of explanation—whether it was describing how a particular policy proposal might work or laying out the political dynamics of a particular moment. Occasionally this writing got a lot of attention, because it included a reporting tidbit that qualified as a scoop. More often, it didn’t. But over time I came to realize that the mere sharing of information has enormous value—even to people in Washington who, you might suppose, already know what they need to know.
Indeed, one of the many lessons I learned over the last year is that, even at the very highest levels of power, people frequently operate with limited knowledge and perspective. That’s true of how they think about policy and that’s true of how they think about politics. As one high-ranking official memorably told me in February, while everybody was scrambling to salvage reform after the Massachusetts Senate race, nobody really sees the whole playing field.
[via The New Republic - Finishing ‘The Treatment’]