Almost all of Ohio's leading newspapers ignored a new poll showing that Ohioans overwhelmingly support action on immigration reform, even as House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced a decision on November 13 that effectively reduced any chances at reform this year.
A poll conducted by Harper Polling on behalf of three pro-reform organizations -- including one that counts News Corp (Fox News' parent company) president Rupert Murdoch as a co-chairman, and another that exclusively supports GOP candidates -- found that 74 percent of Ohio residents surveyed feel the immigration system is broken and that another 72 percent support an immigration proposal with a path to citizenship. The poll also found that 68 percent of respondents support a plan that would grant legal status to undocumented immigrants and citizenship to those who were brought to the country illegally as children.
On November 13, the Cleveland Plain Dealer was the only major daily Ohio newspaper to report these findings, despite Boehner's pronouncement that day that he would refuse to allow negotiations between the House and the Senate on an immigration reform bill. As the Washington Post noted, the decision dealt "a significant blow to the prospects of comprehensive immigration reform by this Congress."
MediaTrackers Ohio attempted to distort local media coverage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by using badly flawed comparisons to claim the ACA's exchanges will lead to "sticker shock" for Ohio residents. MediaTrackers' analysis applies to a small slice of Ohio consumers and doesn't take into account important parts of the law.
Local media looking at MediaTrackers' effort should note several omissions in their reports:
As part of its analysis, MediaTrackers published several articles comparing the costs of insurance premiums for plans on Ohio's federally run ACA exchange to quotes for plans at eHealth.com, an online marketplace that allows people to shop for insurance. MediaTrackers looked at costs for 27-year-old women and men and 50-year-old women and men. In all the scenarios, MediaTrackers compared "Obamacare 'Gold' plans from [the Department of Health and Human Services] and existing policies with similar deductibles listed at eHealth."
As The New York Times explained, all health insurance plans starting on January 1 must include essential benefits from 10 health categories meaning consumers are not forced to purchase insurance through the exchanges in order to qualify under the ACA and can purchase private insurance if it is cheaper for them.
However, even using MediaTrackers' scenario, it is misleading to present today's plans and the new ACA-compliant plans as equal. Replicating MediaTrackers' scant methodology as closely as possible, the cheapest current plans do not have several of the health benefits required under the ACA. For example, picking the cheapest plan on eHealth.com in Columbus, Ohio, with a $1,500 deductible will allow a 27-year-old man to pay around $100 per month, but it will not include mental health, substance abuse, oral, or vision care -- all benefits required under the ACA.
Several local media outlets published editorials and opinion pieces highlighting and praising CBS' faulty 60 Minutes Benghazi report. Now that CBS has apologized and withdrawn its report, will local media follow suit?
On October 27, CBS' 60 Minutes aired a report highlighting comments from security officer Dylan Davies, who went by the pseudonym "Morgan Jones" and said that he was an eyewitness to the September 12, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. After several inconsistencies surfaced in Davies' statements about the evening, CBS pulled its report, apologized to viewers, and said it would "correct the record" on the next edition of 60 Minutes.
Immediately following the 60 Minutes report, various local media outlets across the country published editorial and opinion pieces hyping the report and heralding it as evidence that President Obama and his administration were lying about the attacks. At least six local media outlets, including The Columbus Dispatch, The New Hampshire Union Leader, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Washington Times, The Charleston Post and Courier, and The Boston Herald, all hyped the CBS report with one outlet calling it a "damning report" while another said the administration's "coverup [is] being exposed." Pittsburgh Press writer Jack Kelly published a piece in the Post-Gazette claiming the report was "noteworthy for the new information provided -- in particular the interviews with 'Morgan Jones' and [Lt.] Col. [Andrew] Wood."
The 60 Minutes report reinvigorated the widely debunked myth that there are "lingering questions" about the Benghazi attack and continued to push a right-wing media narrative that the Obama administration has engaged in a cover-up in response to the attacks. The pervasiveness of the myth even hit Congress as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threatened to hold up presidential nominations until questions surrounding Benghazi were answered.
Now that CBS has retracted its report, will local media outlets who also injected this misleading myth into their opinion pages do the same, or will they continue to rely on debunked information that misleads their readers?
The New Hampshire Union Leader rehashed debunked myths about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to misleadingly claim the law isn't working and is growing in unpopularity among Americans, even as polls show the law is gaining support despite initial flaws in rollout of the exchanges.
The October 22 editorial discussed a speech given by President Obama earlier this week in which he expressed disappointment in the exchange rollout's obvious issues but explained that the "essence of the law, the health insurance that's available to people, is working just fine." The piece disagreed, explaining that not only is the website flawed, but the entire law is not working:
The insurance can't be "working just fine" if people can't access it. Nor can it be "working just fine" if it costs more, is not what the insurance people want or need, and causes employers to drop coverage either because it does not meet the Obamacare insurance mandates or because paying the Obamacare fines is cheaper than covering employees.
Nothing about this law is "working just fine." Nor is the President's pathetic spin, which fewer Americans believe every day.
While there are flaws with the online enrollment system, which President Obama has acknowledged and his administration is in the process of fixing, the other accusations leveled by the Union Leader are misleading.
First, several studies have shown that costs for people purchasing insurance have gone down. According to a release by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 6 in 10 uninsured Americans will be able to pay less than $100 per month for health insurance coverage on the exchanges. In addition, the health care advocacy group Families USA found that up to 26 million Americans would be eligible for subsidies to reduce the cost of insurance. In fact, as a study by the Center for American Progress explains, the lower-than-projected premiums "will save the federal government $190 billion over 10 years and increase the law's deficit reduction by 174 percent to almost $300 billion. Lastly, a study by the RAND Corporation found that the law will help consumers lower their out-of-pocket costs in some cases by more than $1,000.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review highlighted a right-wing think tank study which found that premiums would significantly increase for 27-year-old Pennsylvanians without pointing out any other costs savings for young people due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The October 14 Tribune-Review editorial cited a study by the Commonwealth Foundation to claim "premiums [will] go up 121 percent for 27-year-old males and 62 percent for same-aged females in the Pittsburgh area." The paper also included sparse anecdotal evidence to come to the sweeping conclusion that there will be "outrageous cost hikes."
The Commonwealth Foundation, which has a dubious funding record from right-wing mega-donors and ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), published a study claiming that, compared to current insurance premiums on ehealthinsurance.com, 27-year-olds in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia would see their premiums rise significantly. Although left out of the Tribune-Review editorial, the study itself notes that "the comparison does not take into account the tax credits available to individuals" or "out-of-pocket costs, including co-pays and deductibles" which have been predicted to fall under the ACA.
By failing to note the impact of subsides, both the editorial and the study leave out a significant portion of savings that would manifest as a result of the ACA for young adults. According to a report by FamiliesUSA, almost 900,000 Pennsylvania residents would be eligible for premium tax credits or subsidies in 2014. Of that number, young adults -- those between the ages of 18 and 34 -- are "the likeliest age group to be eligible for premium tax credits, making up approximately 36 percent of all those who are eligible."
Right-wing media have consistently hyped several myths about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during the lead up to open enrollment for state-based exchanges. As media outlets report on implementation of the health care law, they should be aware of these false claims, including zombie myths that the law includes "death panels" and that Congress is "exempt" from the law.
Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Sherman Frederick hyped two debunked myths about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the false claim that the Cleveland Clinic is cutting costs as a direct result of the ACA and that "skinny networks" will limit access to quality care.
In his September 28 column, Frederick claimed the truth about the ACA was revealed when Eileen Sheil, corporate communications director for the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, said that the clinic would be cutting its budget and making other employment decisions due to the law. The column continued:
Ms. Sheil announced that in order to prepare for Obamacare, the Cleveland Clinic, one of the world's best health care providers, would slash up to 6 percent of its 2014 budget, put some 3,000 employees into early retirement, hold positions vacant longer and, if necessary, lay off employees.
Let that sink in. Just like that, the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic brought to bended knee by Obamacare. If this law can do that to one of our best medical institutions, what's going to happen to the quality of our local hospitals? How will isolated, rural facilities cope?
The problem with Frederick's assertion is that it's not true. The Atlantic reached out to Sheil who "seemed a bit confused by the emphasis on Obamacare in reports" and explained that the clinic had been "working on reducing costs for years" in order to remain viable, and the ACA was just the catalyst to implement those decisions. Fox News' Greta Van Susteren also debunked this myth when she backpedaled on initial Fox reports after speaking with Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the clinic.
A local North Carolina newspaper published several incorrect statements and left out important details in a piece on the Affordable Care Act, including blaming the health care law for job losses, which were actually caused by Republican obstructionism, and providing misleading information about who is eligible for federal subsidies.
The Richmond-Times Dispatch hyped a concern that "nobody will check" to ensure that people who request subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are actually qualified to do so, despite several safeguards and penalties in place designed to prevent fraud.
Right-wing organization Media Trackers Florida called support for Medicaid expansion "leftist Florida advocacy" by hyping misleading claims about the cost of expansion. However, the cost estimate used by Media Trackers failed to take into account millions of dollars in savings while insuring almost one million Floridians.