"Bipartisanship" is one of those buzzwords that proponents of a policy will invoke whenever possible. But a rush to demonstrate that the policy appeals across party lines can often obscure partisans' real motives in endorsing it.
Since former Senate Majority Leaders Bill Frist and Tom Daschle teamed up to endorse ObamaCare this week, plenty of media outlets have touted the "bipartisan" backing of the law.
Daschle is of course a Democrat so his support isn't as newsy as Frist's. But when a credentialed Republican, a former Senate GOP leader comes out in favor of a piece of landmark liberal legislation, the keen observer is a bit suspicious. Why the ideological shift? In Frist's case - and this fact has amazingly gone unmentioned in reports by MSNBC, NPR, and Politico - it seems to be due to his significant financial stake in ObamaCare's preservation.
Frist is a partner in a private investment firm that bets on health care companies -- and on regulation.... So Frist gets rich by helping pick the health care companies that will get rich. Now he's backing Obamacare -- and winning praise for it.
Carney followed up with a column on Frist's vested interest in the health care debate on Wednesday. He wrote:
Look at some of the language on [Frist employer] Cressey & Co's webpage. "The Cressey & Company strategy applies unique insights and experience to produce extraordinary results" [emphasis added]. What "unique insights" do you think Frist provides? Another page on the site gives us a hint: "With deep expertise in the healthcare reimbursement and regulatory environments, the Cressey & Company team has invested in almost every for-profit niche of healthcare."
Daschle, for his part, is a lobbying "consultant" for a number of clients with skin in the health care game.
Yet somehow, both Daschle's and Frist's clear conflicts of interest - indeed, even their employers - escaped mention in reports from MSNBC, NPR, and Politico. Clearly the mainstream press is a sucker for "bipartisanship" - when it's supporting a law popular in liberal circles, anyway.
But for journalists who love to "follow the money," they're awfully silent on these two partisans' financial interests in seeing ObamaCare preserved.