Health Care Reform: The Battle Over the Viral Whisper

The screams. The finger pointing. The threats.

Could be a professional wrestling event, a cable talk show or a public meeting about health care reform.

Seems the ability for valuable public discourse is taking a beating these days.

But if you look closely, much of the public fight taking place involves the messaging and terminology used. “Death panels” versus the “Reality Check.” (See this blog post from Mediaite regarding Reality Check.)

This Washington Post article today discusses the latest strategy from the White House to present the issue to the public.

Interesting comment from Dan Pfeiffer, White House deputy communications director. “There is a concerted viral whisper campaign from the opponents of health reform,” he said. “The PR playbook used to say that you ignored rumors like this, but we learned during the campaign that in this hyperactive media environment that the only solution is to address the rumors head on.”

So, if we can step back from the heat a bit, I’m curious. What has changed in the world of PR, politics and media that has convinced communications advisors to address rumors? Is it this “viral whisper?” Or the speed with which a message gets out? Or the emotional finger pointing?

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