During appearances on Lou Dobbs Tonight and Glenn Beck, Dobbs and Beck allowed Betsy McCaughey to advance the false claim that provisions in the economic recovery act would permit the government to control health care. In fact, the provisions she cited address establishing an electronic records system in part for the purpose of "reduc[ing] health care costs resulting from inefficiency, medical errors, inappropriate care, duplicative care, and incomplete information." It does not say that the federal government will determine what constitutes "unnecessary care."
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The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore and Fox News anchors Bill Hemmer and Megyn Kelly promoted the falsehood -- which first appeared in a Bloomberg "commentary" by Betsy McCaughey and was subsequently promoted by Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge -- that the economic recovery bill includes a provision that would, in Moore's words, "hav[e] the government essentially dictate treatments." Limbaugh later took credit for spreading this story.
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Rush Limbaugh repeated a falsehood in a Bloomberg "commentary" by Betsy McCaughey that claimed that under a provision in the House-passed economic recovery bill, "[o]ne new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and 'guide' your doctor's decisions." In fact, the provisions McCaughey referenced address establishing an electronic records system such that doctors would have information about their patients "to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care."
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There's a reason why nobody ever mistook Tucker Carlson for a "policy wonk," even when he was still wearing the bow tie. Here he is making a fool of himself during a Washingtonpost.com online discussion:
Harrisburg, Pa.: I wish to please ask a question to Mr. Carlson (and Ms. Cox is free to also respond.). I saw you on MSNBC and I agree that a national health care system will increase government spending. Yet, how much would it increase costs to consumers? Are there national health insurance plans that could reduce costs to consumers, especially if, to be candid, government inefficiency can be found to be less costly that current health care administrative costs?
Tucker Carlson: With all respect, you've answered your own question: Increased government spending amouunts to an increased cost to consumers, since in the end consumers are the only source of government revenue.
Carlson doesn't seem to understand that "increased government spending" does not amount to "increased cost to consumers" if it replaces a larger amount of money that the consumers were already spending.
This really isn't all that complicated. Maybe the Post should consider replacing Carlson with someone who has some idea what he is talking about?
The Century Foundation's Niko Karvounis has a must-read piece warning that the news media could "derail health care reform":
Policy can get pretty complicated; so the public will rely on the media to help it navigate the ins and outs of the issue.
Unfortunately, reporters aren't health care policy experts. In fact, they rarely ever talk about the issue. In a December report, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that, out of 3,513 health news stories in newspapers, on TV and radio, and online between January 2007 and June 2008, health care policy made up less than 1 percent of news stories and just 27.4 percent of health-focused stories.
history shows that when health care reform efforts are actually under way, the media ignore policy in favor of more sensational stories.
During President Bill Clinton's efforts at health care reform in the 1990s, for example, media reports disproportionately focused on politics rather than policy. In their 1998 book Politics, Power, and Policymaking: The Case of Health Care Reform in the 1990s, Missouri State University professors Mark Rushefsky and Kant Patel found that that in 1993 and 1994 -- the height of public debate over Clinton's plan -- the New York Times reported just 257 stories about policy considerations (proposed reforms and solutions, analyses of options) and a whopping 549 on politics (personalities, disagreement, partisanship). When the nation's health care system was at stake, spats received more coverage than substance.
Sean Hannity falsely asserted that Sen. Barack Obama promises "to nationalize our health care," and said his is a "false promise." In fact, Obama has not proposed, much less promised, to nationalize health care.
The Washington Post, The Washington Times, the Associated Press, and The Hill reported Sen. John McCain's claims that Sen. Barack Obama is "offering government-run health care" and "an energy plan guaranteed to work without drilling," without noting that both claims are false. Obama has not proposed "government-run health care" and Obama's energy plan calls domestic oil and natural gas production "critical to prevent global energy prices from climbing even higher."
The Boston Globe uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's false claim that Sen. Barack Obama proposes to "fine" small businesses that do not provide employee health insurance. While Obama has proposed requiring large businesses that do not provide employer-sponsored health coverage to pay a percentage of their payroll into a National Health Insurance Exchange to help Americans purchase private health insurance, small businesses would be exempt.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Sen. John McCain's assertion that Sen. Barack Obama's health-care plan "will force them into a new huge government-run health care program" without also reporting that the claim is false.
Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee falsely claimed that, under Sen. Barack Obama's health-care plan, "the government will be in control," and that "we're going to be rationing it." In fact, Obama has not proposed government-run health care. Indeed, Obama's website specifically states that, under his proposal, individuals "will not have to change plans."
CNN.com's Political Ticker blog uncritically repeated the false claim by Sen. John McCain that Sen. Barack Obama favors "hav[ing] the government take over the health care system in America." In fact, Obama has called for individuals to choose their own insurance and has not proposed that the "government take over the health care system in America." CNN has repeatedly uncritically aired -- or repeated -- similar attacks by McCain.
The New York Times' John Harwood wrote that Sen. John McCain "prevailed over a field of Republicans who almost unanimously shared his support for the Iraq war, embrace of President Bush's tax cuts, skepticism toward government-run health care and opposition to abortion rights," while Sen. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton "both staked out opposite ground from Mr. McCain." But neither Obama nor Clinton has proposed "government-run health care"; the Times has previously pointed out that McCain has "inaccurately described Obama's and Clinton's health care proposals" by likening them to "government-run health care systems."