Newsweek's Liz White Complains of 'ObamaCare' Label Use Again

April 21st, 2010 6:02 PM

Last month I noted Newsweek's Liz White's complaint about the term "ObamaCare" being used as shorthand for the Democratic health care legislation. White griped that the term was "ominous-sounding" and favored by the legislation's conservative opponents as reasons why mainstream media outlets should eschew the term.

Now a full 27 days later, White is back at it with her complaint about the term "ObamaCare." This time, she's citing none other than liberal Comedy Central "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart to back her up:

On Tuesday night's The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Stewart discussed a new book, A New American Tea Party: The Counterrevolution Against Bailouts, Handouts, Reckless Spending, and More Taxes, with its author, John O’Hara. O’Hara drops the O word—"Obamacare"—several minutes into the discussion about whether the tea-party movement is or is not antigovernment.

Stewart immediately jumps on O’Hara’s slip, calling him out on using the “derogatory” phrase and firing back by referring to O’Hara’s book as a “tea-bagger book.” O’Hara stammers for a few seconds and tries to defend his word choice, but concedes to calling it the health-reform bill instead. (It’s a law, by the way.)

Last month, I took on this same issue. Should the bill be called Obamacare, or is that phrase, as Stewart puts it, derogatory by nature? 

Since its passing, so-called Obamacare has become a more mainstream term for the health bill, but it still hasn’t overcome its negative beginnings. The search results are still overwhelmingly negative, but it has made its way into several NEWSWEEK stories over the past couple of weeks.

Writers and journalists might find the term useful—it’s catchy and easier to write—but it isn’t likely to shed its unfavorable connotation, especially with partisan voices like O’Hara dropping it into conversation.  

But what is so offensive about the term ObamaCare that it would be on par with the derogatory and sexually-connoted term "tea-bagger"?

After all, the health care bill is President Obama's signature legislative accomplishment of his first two years in office, much as President Bush's tax cuts were his signature agenda item, and we all remember how the media never let up with criticism about how the "Bush tax cuts" were "costing" the government by "driving up deficits."

Simply put, the media made sure Bush's signature accomplishment was squarely identified with him and done so often in a negative light in furtherance of liberal talking points.

Indeed, the media never insisted on referring to the tax cut act by its formal name, "The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001," in much the same way as White herself admitted of ObamaCare's formal title, "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" that it "may be too much of a mouthful to actually catch on."

White's complaint about ObamaCare's "negative beginnings" and "unfavorable connotation" is a strange one coming from an ostensibly unbiased journalist.