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Columbia Missourian

Health care debate needs less heat, more light

By Tom Warhover
August 14, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

Dear Reader,

Ever have one of those moments when you see something and say, "Oh!" followed by "Oh No!"?

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My hometown of Hillsboro made the news this week.

That’s not an every day occurrence; when I was growing up, the sign at the city limits read “population 850.” (OK, it might have said 862. I’m struggling against memory here.)

So it was neat to see Jefferson County’s seat in all capital letters at the beginning of the Associated Press story.

If only I had stopped there.

That’s because the town earned its place among the growing list of datelines where ugliness has occurred.

This time it was Sen. Claire McCaskill’s turn.

Her town hall meeting on Tuesday was "loud from the start," according to a report by The Associated Press. "The audience at times cut her off mid-speech, booing her answers and cheering speakers in the crowd."

Take a look for yourself:

Here’s the problem: There’s too much heat in this issue, and not enough light.

Will Rogers once said, “Everybody’s ignorant, only in different subjects.” Well, health care – the current system and the proposals to change it – is one I feel utterly unintelligent about.

Perhaps I’m in a party of one, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not alone. In fact, I’m willing to bet that I’m even solidly in the majority.

If so, where’s the coverage for people like me?

I’m not screaming, for or against. And why are there two sides when there are five proposals in Congress right now? Six, actually, if you include the “keep things as they are” option.

Your news sources should provide you with information to have informed conversations. I suppose I would be OK with the shouting matches if they weren’t so misleading – if they skewered with hard fact rather than the rhetoric of fear.

We, the people, deserve more from our journalism. We also have a responsibility to arm ourselves with the best available information.

The Missourian newsroom will be working to find better ways to cover this story. I and the other editors welcome your suggestions, as always.