Today I received an email from the White House about health care reform, and I think it encapsulated a problem the administration has getting its message out. The intent of the email was to provide a simple and straightforward description of the benefits of health care reform, and dispel some of the misrepresentations of the reform effort. But right off the bat, there’s a problem – there are three lists of eight items each. They need to get this down to the top three things and keep repeating that, if they want to make headway with someone other than health care policy wonks. And one of the lists could have used some editorial review – the one that has “8 common myths about health insurance reform” includes some contradictory headings. For every “reform would encourage euthenasia” (a myth), there’s a heading such as “Your can keep your own insurance” (presumably not a myth). So now the opponents of reform can take this email and accurately say, “the White House says that you won’t be able to keep your own insurance with health care reform”.
The only good thing about this email is that it’s so long and boring that most people won’t read it, which might limit the damage done to message control.