Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) Thursday implored reporters to improve their coverage of the healthcare debate, which he described as incomplete.

The senator, who chairs his chamber's Budget Committee, remarked at a hearing this afternoon that reporters have largely ignored the healthcare delivery portions of the bill Democrats already passed in both chambers of Congress -- components Conrad later described as some of the most important features of the legislation.


Instead, Conrad said journalists have focused mostly on the controversies surrounding the healthcare debate, as well as "side issues...most of which didn't matter a hoot."

"And I'll tell you, I don't know what's happening as a culture, but when we have the national news media obsessing over Michael Jackson, and obsessing over side issues, and giving no basis of information to people to make judgments on things that really matter to our economic future, we have a really big problem," Conrad said.

The senator then urged reporters to remember their civic "obligation" to inform readers about topics of national significance.

"I might plead to the national media," he continued. "I know it's a ratings game... but you're using the public airwaves here, you have some obligation to talk about the things that are serious, to talk about what really matters here."