The Real Rick Scott Debate Scandal

The state of commercial media in America today is that "if it bleeds, it leads." Rather than provide us with real news, our corporatized media gives us ratings-driven infotainment drivel, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They go for the bright and sparkly stuff, instead of the substance.

Case in point comes from last night’s Florida gubernatorial debate between Republican Governor Rick Scott and challenger former Governor Charlie Crist.

Last night’s debate was filled with some of the biggest issues facing Floridians and Americans as a whole. The debate clearly highlighted the different views that Crist and Scott have for the future of both Florida and our country. Unfortunately, most Floridians and Americans won’t hear about those important issues and differences, because Rick Scott decided to throw a hissy fit that grabbed the media’s attention hook, line, and sinker.

Scott initially refused to debate Crist last night because Crist was using an electric fan under his podium to stay cool. Crist was on stage by himself for several minutes, before Scott finally came out onto the debate stage.

Once the two actually got to debating, it became quite clear that not only do they have a strong dislike for each other, but they have some very different views on the pressing issues facing Floridians and Americans today.

Jobs was one of the first issues to come up. Scott lashed out at Crist, saying that, “Charlie is the zero-wage governor: 832,000 people went from wages to zero wages when he was governor.” Crist responded, “Rick, there you go again: trying to blame the global economic meltdown on me. You just can't trust Rick. It's sad. And it's unfortunate.”

Unfortunately, the jobs portion of the debate got overshadowed in our media by “fangate.”

Later in the debate came conversations about healthcare and Medicaid expansion. Crist made it clear that he’s in full support of Florida accepting federal funding under Obamacare to expand Medicaid in the Sunshine State, so that more than 800,000 Floridians have access to life-saving and affordable healthcare. Crist said that, “Rick Scott won’t lift a finger to get it done, and I don’t know why. Talk about all talk and no action: He said he supported it, [and] we don’t have it.”

Despite initially supporting the move, Scott maintained his current position on the issue, saying that he’s against expanding Medicaid, and giving health insurance to hundreds of thousands of Floridians. But again, this huge difference in opinion that affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of people was overshadowed in our infotainment media by “fangate.”

Towards the latter stages of the debate, Crist pointed out that Rick Scott has the dubious distinction of being CEO of the company when it committed one the largest Medicare and Medicaid frauds in American history. During Scott’s time as CEO of private healthcare company Columbia/HCA, that company was fined a staggering $1.7 billion by the federal government, for the crimes - the frauds - they committed under Rick Scott's supervision.

Crist told the crowd that Scott was, “a guy who ran a company [that] had to pay the largest fine for fraud in the history of the United States of America.” He then addressed Scott directly, saying that, “Rick, this is also a fact: You plead the Fifth 75 times so you wouldn’t have to answer questions about your involvement with it.”

This pivotal moment of the debate, like all the others, was again overlooked by our “if it bleeds, it leads” media. The real issues brought up last night have been ignored so much by our media that it’s enough to make you think that Scott’s “fangate” hissy fit was meant to divert attention away from what really matters, and to help him win a very tight race come Election Day.

And, oh by the way, Rick Scott has played this card in a debate before - and it helped make him governor. Back in 2010, Scott was locked in a tight and pretty much tied battle with Democrat Alex Sink. During a commercial break in their debate, Sink was handed a smartphone by an aide, and read a text message on the phone. That violated the debate rules, because no electronics were allowed and the candidates weren’t supposed to receive messages during the debate breaks.

Scott harped on the violation as the debate went on, totally taking away attention from the actual issues being debated. The "electronic device" scandal became the big news story, and the media ignored the issues being debated. It got so hot that Alex Sink had to fire the person who brought her the phone, which fueled another round of media stories that didn't mention the issues.

And, surprise! A couple weeks later, Scott was elected governor of Florida.

In large part because of decisions made during the Reagan and Clinton administrations, our media is now an infotainment mess. This makes us all vulnerable to hustler politicians who've figured out that media that cares about ratings over news will always go with the bright, shiny things - like an argument over an electric fan on-stage - instead of real issues that affect all of our lives.

This could be fixed by reversing Reagan's decision to stop enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and breaking up the media monopolies, but that's only going to happen when enough Americans realize how bad things are.

So spread the word and help wake up America! If we're successful, hack politicians and criminals like Rick Scott will never again be able to use this kind of old ploy to manipulate the media.


OrgDevGuy's picture
OrgDevGuy 8 years 32 weeks ago

While I was never that all crazy about her show, one of Randi Rhodes' tag lines on Air America was, "The news has been cancelled." She definitely got that one right.

hucktunes's picture
hucktunes 8 years 32 weeks ago

An electric fan is an electrical devise, not an electronic devise. Electric lights are also electrical devises. Microphones are electronic devises, I imagine they both used those as well as the electric lights.

LolitaPer 8 years 32 weeks ago

It seems as if not enough consumers/constituents are eager or enthusiastic enough to get informed about the facts. Most are overwhelmed by the TMI - too much infotainment.

Though this is off-topic, the last comment uses "devise" (verb) instead of "device" (noun). Thanks.

bobhiggins's picture
bobhiggins 8 years 32 weeks ago

Excellent column. Thank you.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 32 weeks ago

Fascist control of the corpse media, coupled with the billionaire's Citizen's United ruling, has led directly to the placement of undocumented felons like Rickey boy in positions of arbitrary power.

At this point I'm afraid that spreading the word will have to get very ugly to have any chance at restoration of representative government. The only man with true bully pulpit potential refuses to use it......that's 99% of the fault I find with Obama......why take the job if you're too chicken sht to speak the truth for the 99%? Why not pound the fist and shout out about the minority Teabagger shut down of the House, the minority control of the filibustered Senate, the five right wing extremists on the Supreme court, govt. to the highest bidder? more Mr nice guy, just tell the god damn truth to the country!

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 32 weeks ago

Thom, you’ve just presented yet another excellent example to illustrate why I no longer have TV in my house. I fired those bums. I get better news from progressive talk radio than off the idiot box. - AIW

RFord's picture
RFord 8 years 32 weeks ago

TV news shows like CNN, MSNBC, and FOX NEWS get stuck in a rut. Yesterday I was trying tofind out what was going on in the world and I was going from channel to channel and everyone was talking about ebola, Surley there is somthing going on somewhere in the world besides ebola but they would not go to another story. CNN is the worst about this. They will stay on the same story 24-7 for weeks.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 8 years 32 weeks ago

Yeah RFord, but you missed something. The purpose of mainstream corporate media is NOT to present us with real news and keep us informed on the issues, or keep American democracy functioning and viable. The purpose of mainstream corporate media is to get the most ratings and to maximize their profits. The way to maximize ratings is to get the public so scared and freaked out that they will stay glued to their boob tubes 24-7, while their brains get fried. Scared citizens with fried brains are so much easier to control. - AIW

Progressive Republican's picture
Progressive Rep... 8 years 32 weeks ago

(#6)Yeah, Alice, I remember those days before the station's owners decided that Portland was in deperate need of yet another 24/7 sports station. I used to listen to progressive radio almost exclusively. Now we got bupkis.

So much for operating in the public interest.


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