Today Show Asks: Heating Bills or Heart Medicine?

Ever wonder where the media find those people for the heart-wrenching personal interest stories used to illustrate a point? Me too. The Today show aired a doozy this morning, and used it to make a hair-raising prediction that pointed the finger at insufficient government welfare spending. The topic was increasing fuel prices, and in particular the rising cost of home heating. Reporter Tom Costello sagely informed us "those high heating bills will hit low-income families especially hard." Well, yeah. That's one of the things about being low-income, you can't afford as much stuff, nachos to natural gas.. We were then treated to a clip of Joanne Baker, a not-elderly black Philadelphia woman living in what appeared to be a comfortable two-story home who lamented: "I've been cutting back and cutting back. I can't cut back any more." Costello informed us that Baker still owes $1,300 on last year's gas bill, that she's disabled and on a fixed income. So how will Baker pay her for heat this winter? According to Costello: "She's cutting back on her blood pressure medicine to save up for this winter." But it gets worse. Said Baker: "I think a lot of people, it's not just going to be me in this country, is going to be cold, and I pray, I pray that they do not freeze to death." And what is the solution? Costello suggested only welfare stands between people and an icy death: "While Joanne hopes for government assistance, many other Americans will be on their own." We get the point, Tom. Heating bills or heart medicine. And if people freeze to death, it's all Bush's fault.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.