The White House was worried President Obama’s major health care address would get lost in the commemorations of 9/11. They didn’t know about Joe Wilson, the heretofore unknown South Carolina congressman who is now the national poster boy for the disaffected and ill-informed white people hurling tea bags and insults at the president.

The summer health care debate has been shaped by scandalously poor media coverage of town hall protests, skewing the facts and confusing millions of Americans for the sake of ratings.

President Obama had hoped to refocus the discussion and scored major points for his Wednesday address to Congress. But instead of talking about Obama’s speech and its arguments, cable news outlets have been debating whether Rep. Wilson is correct that health care reform will provide coverage to immigrants.

CNN took a heckle and made it a rebuttal, elevating Wilson and his agenda to the level of the president.

Wilson is still in the news, kept there in part by Democrats who may censure the congressman and hope to raise gobs of money on the back of his outburst. A fundraising e-mail signed by James Carville with the subject “Heckling the President?” says “Heck, if crazy were a pre-existing condition, the GOP wouldn’t be able to get insurance.”

Cute. But four days after the dust-up The Associated Press is reporting on whether or not Wilson will apologize again. He won’t.

There’s a bit of a Sarah Palin factor here. Just mention the name and it’s good for ratings, good for Web traffic and circulation, good for fundraising. It’s just not very good for America. — PS

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