Monday, March 19, 2012

On television

Sometimes inspiration for a blog strikes in odd locations ... like a doctor's office.

I spent an hour in the waiting room today with a comfy chair and a good book as Mrs. Inquisitive Mind got checked out. The television in the room was on and set to Fox News. It's somewhat interesting that doctor's offices often are tuned to that particular channel. I suppose news channels can serve as decent background noise, but Fox does have bigger ratings than CNN or MSNBC.

Still, who makes such decisions? Do doctors put the channel on figuring that views against socialized medicine will receive preferential treatment? I bring it up because some people would prefer to have an operation without an anesthetic rather than be forced to watch Fox News.

But I digress. During my hour, Fox came on with one of those news alerts designed to keep viewers from switching channels. (They all do it in one form or another.) The big story in this case was that a poll indicates that 49 percent of the population expects the Supreme Court to overturn the law allowing President Obama's health care reform to stand. Approval was under 30, while "don't know" was a bit above 20. That was followed by the usual partisan discussion by a representative of both sides that was predictable, as usual.

OK, this raises two issues. One -- is this news? Hard to say so. It's merely an odd poll that was authorized by someone with time and money. Naturally, the cynics out there will ask if Fox would have dedicated that sort of time to the story had the poll numbers been reversed. It's at least a fair question, although you can find such cases all over the dial. Gotta feed the news machine, as we used to say in all-news radio.

A bigger question -- what does a poll like this prove? I'd guess nothing. If you want to ask if people support the concept of "Obama-care," then that might be worth hearing. But, realistically, how many people are remotely qualified to judge whether a law like this is constitutional and thus will stand?

It reminds me of a poll taken a short time ago about whether the recession is over. A majority of people said it wasn't. That's in spite of the fact that by definition, the recession has been over for some time because the economy has been growing for some time. All the poll proved was that people don't know what a recession is.

I quickly went back to Tim Wendel's new baseball book. Sure glad I brought it.

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