NY Times uncritically reported that Senate GOP leadership "has not issued a press release criticizing the Frosts" over SCHIP

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

On September 29, 12-year-old Graeme Frost, who relied on the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to pay for treatment for brain injuries suffered in an automobile accident, delivered a Democratic radio address criticizing President Bush's veto of a bill to expand the program. In an October 10 article, The New York Times reported that "[i]n recent days, Graeme and his family have been attacked by conservative bloggers and other critics of the Democrats' plan to expand" SCHIP. The article further reported: "Republicans on Capitol Hill, who were gearing up to use Graeme as evidence that Democrats have overexpanded the health program to include families wealthy enough to afford private insurance, have backed off." As evidence, the Times reported that "[a]n aide to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, expressed relief that his office had not issued a press release criticizing the Frosts." But according to an October 8 post on ABC News' "Political Radar" blog by senior political correspondent Rick Klein, McConnell's spokesman "declined to comment" on the charge "that GOP aides were complicit in spreading disparaging information about [the] Frosts"; specifically, Klein reported a claim by Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), that a Senate GOP "leadership aide" had sent an email to reporters "summing up recent blog traffic about the boy's family." The Times article did not mention Manley's reported claim, nor the spokesman's reported refusal to comment.

The blog Firedoglake also noted that the Times simply cited "an aide to Sen[ator] Mitch McConnell."

From Klein's October 8 post:

According to Senate Democratic aides, some bloggers have made repeated phone calls to the home of 12-year-old Graeme Frost, demanding information about his family's private life. On Monday, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused GOP leadership aides of "pushing falsehood" in an effort to distract from the political battle over S-CHIP.

"This is a perverse distraction from the issue at hand," said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid, D-Nev. "Instead of debating the merits of providing health care to children, some in GOP leadership and their right-wing friends would rather attack a 12-year-old boy and his sister who were in a horrific car accident."

Manley cited an e-mail sent to reporters by a Senate Republican leadership aide, summing up recent blog traffic about the boy's family. A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to comment on Manley's charge that GOP aides were complicit in spreading disparaging information about Frosts.

From the October 10 New York Times article, headlined "Capitol Feud: A 12-Year-Old Is the Fodder":

There have been moments when the fight between Congressional Democrats and President Bush over the State Children's Health Insurance Program seemed to devolve into a shouting match about who loves children more.

So when Democrats enlisted 12-year-old Graeme Frost, who along with a younger sister relied on the program for treatment of severe brain injuries suffered in a car crash, to give the response to Mr. Bush's weekly radio address on Sept. 29, Republican opponents quickly accused them of exploiting the boy to score political points.

Then, they wasted little time in going after him to score their own.

In recent days, Graeme and his family have been attacked by conservative bloggers and other critics of the Democrats' plan to expand the insurance program, known as S-chip. They scrutinized the family's income and assets -- even alleged the counters in their kitchen to be granite -- and declared that the Frosts did not seem needy enough for government benefits.

[...]

Republicans on Capitol Hill, who were gearing up to use Graeme as evidence that Democrats have overexpanded the health program to include families wealthy enough to afford private insurance, have backed off.

An aide to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, expressed relief that his office had not issued a press release criticizing the Frosts.

Posted In
Health Care, Children's Health
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
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