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CNN’s Lazy Listening Project

I’m tuned in to CNN in the car, and Brooke Baldwin is interviewing two social media producers who’ve been collecting viewer voicemails about election results.

They decided to highlight a gay man from Tennessee who voted for Trump. The man himself said Trump wasn’t going to roll back gay rights so everyone should just calm down. That in and of itself was enough for me to get annoyed because no one knows yet what Trump will or won’t do, and there is a very real chance a lot of people’s basic human rights are at risk.

But then, after hearing his message, the producers called the man back to get more information. They relayed that he voted on economics, and his vote solely was based on Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act or ACA).

Really? How so?

The segment went on to include mention of a woman whose parents are illegal immigrants from Mexico – and who has relatives still immigrating illegally from Mexico – but believes we need to build a wall. No joke. These are the people CNN thinks are worth “hearing out.”

I’m going to pass on discussing the woman who believes in the wall because I don’t know what kind of intelligent conversation we can entertain involving that level of hypocrisy, but as for the guy who voted “based on Obamacare,” I have plenty to add.

If CNN were any kind of real journalism outlet anymore, they would explain why that argument makes no sense. Or if somehow it does, they would tell me why. Instead they pass it off as a totally reasonable explanation.

I want to know the following:

  1. Does this man have health insurance, and if so, does he get it through work or does he buy it on his own?

  2. Does he use the exchange to shop for insurance? If so, does he qualify for assistance paying his premium? Has he even checked?

  3. If he does not use the exchange, how exactly does the ACA impact him economically?

  4. Is it possible he has a preexisting condition? Does he even know?

  5. What kind of health insurance did he have before we passed the ACA?

It is this complete lack of follow-up that infuriates me and allows the lies to proliferate. Just because someone blames “Obamacare” doesn’t mean it’s reality. I know health care policy is complicated. I get that. But do a little homework. Make some calls. If you did, you may very well discover the guy in Tennessee actually isn’t impacted negatively by the ACA at all. Or if he is, does he understand that “repeal” will make things worse? Does he know that Trump has no actual health care plan? Does he understand “replace” doesn’t exist?

Ask some questions, and you even may stumble upon a new story – the one that explains people are blaming the ACA for issues originating elsewhere. You may be able to break away from the herd. Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

Listening without asking questions and challenging the answers doesn’t make you a news producer. Regurgitation is not reporting. Now more than ever, I think we all need to start demanding more.

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