It takes a news operation the size of the New York Times to give a reporter like Robert Pear the time he needs to do this kind of reporting:
In House, Many Spoke With One Voice: Lobbyists’
The New York Times
November 15, 2009
As many of you know, the Congressional Record publishes transcripts of every floor debate and vote that takes place in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Every morning at 11, you can go online to http://www.gpoaccess.gov/crecord/ to read a transcript of the previous day’s proceedings. It’s free, searchable and downloadable.
In addition to taped testimony, speakers are permitted to submit written testimony to clarify or add to their argument. Some do this, or rather, let their staffs do it for them.
I can only guess, but I imagine Pear was looking for evidence that the unprecedented amount of money spent by health care industries to ward off a negative impact to their business, paid off, at least in terms of The Affordable Health Care for America Act [H.R. 3962].
Not that lobbyist don’t feed members with talking points related to every single bill that comes up for a vote, but this one was special. It spells out policies that will affect one-sixth of the nation’s economy, almost 100 percent of the population, and will direct our access to health care for many years to come.
Remarkably, forty-two House members –- 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats ---gave almost the exact same testimony, in support of their opinion, for OR against. Their thoughts – and the words that expressed them – were provided at great expense by Genentech, a subsidiary of the Swiss drug giant Roche.
You may recall Joe Wilson, the little-known Congressman from South Carolina who made his debut as a man who unable to keep his thoughts to himself, the night President Obama spelled out his health care reform message, before a special session of Congress. It seems that Joe sometimes allows others to do his thinking for him:
From the Times:
In separate statements using language suggested by the lobbyists, Representatives Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri and Joe Wilson of South Carolina, both Republicans, said: “One of the reasons I have long supported the U.S. biotechnology industry is that it is a homegrown success story that has been an engine of job creation in this country. Unfortunately, many of the largest companies that would seek to enter the biosimilar market have made their money by outsourcing their research to foreign countries like India.”
You’re not going to find a story like this on CNN or even CBS. It’s about words, and has no visual appeal. Furthermore, only a word person would spend the time hunting for similarities in text, and checking them against the text sent out by the lobbyists. And, only a newspaper would publish it, because print journalists understand the value and the power of the written word.