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A View from the Cheap Seats Blog post by Garren Shipley
Posted August 4, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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It would seem some people didn't like the story I wrote about an anti-health care reform rally held in Winchester on Friday.

First, some background: Americans for Prosperity brought their "Patients First" bus tour to Winchester, and drew a sizable crowd. One of the speakers, Kate Obenshain, made her case against the health care changes advocated by President Obama and congressional Democrats.

From the e-mail, a mild taste of the displeasure:

How can your newspaper perpetuate the absolutely misleading lies spewed by Kate Obenshain as "news"?  You reported a "big" crowd (merely 150 people) attended a rally, and you quoted Ms. Obenshain's totally false and inflammatory remarks as if they were important with no discussion as to their legitimacy. 
Journalism 101 requires reporters to investigate all sides of a story, check facts especially alleged facts, and clarify the issues for the readers.  You have allowed yourself to be a pawn for the right-wing fringe by incorporating their drivel as if it is "news."  You wrote nothing to question or contradict her misstatements about the President's proposals leaving the readers to believe them as fact.  You have failed!
Get your head out of your *** the sand and report the whole story. Or be creative and write a piece to expose "How Political Operatives Lie and Mislead" to get free publicity from the press!
Whew.  It took me a couple of dramatic readings and some interpretive dance to really internalize the sturm und drang contained in that one.

Everybody feel better now that they got that off their chest?

All snarkiness aside, we report on what happens at rallies and similar events with just enough background to put it in context. A story about an open-air rally -- or a speaker extremely critical of the Bush administration -- is about the event, not a deep analysis issue they're talking about.

Suffice it to say that when Organizing for America's listening tour decides to make a stop in Winchester, I'll be there and we'll cover it. 

That's not to say we're not going to write about the issue in depth. In fact, we already have here.

Since that story was written, I took the time to read all 1,018 pages of the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. I've also read the working drafts from both the House and Senate. I didn't spend all that time reading those tomes for no reason. There will be more published about this issue as we move forward.

Frustration on the part of health care reform advocates is easy to understand.  The amazing momentum generated by the Obama campaign hasn't continued into the Obama administration, and backers are frustrated. The promise of November has run smack into the political and economic realities of January and February.

Republicans, on the other hand, were chastened by their beating at the polls. And nothing encourages a change of strategy like a historic electoral beatdown. Enter the Tea Party movement, and suddenly the GOP is on the march again, even while relegated to toothless minority status in Congress.

The fight over health care reform will play out according to its own rules, in its own time, over the summer. And as it happens, we'll cover the events, dig deep into the issue and give our readers a comprehensive look at the whole picture.

In the meantime, everybody just take a breath. You'll feel better.

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