Fox News hosts advanced falsehood that Obama said he has not read health bill

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

Fox News hosts advanced the false claim that President Obama stated during a conference call that he has not read or is not familiar with provisions in the House health care reform bill.

Echoing the Heritage Foundation's Foundry blog, the Drudge Report, and Rush Limbaugh, Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto, Steve Doocy, and Brian Kilmeade advanced the false claim that President Obama stated during a conference call that he has not read or is not familiar with provisions in the House health care reform bill. In fact, Obama did not make such a statement.

In the comments to which the Fox News hosts were referring, Obama was responding to a blogger who asked him to comment on a claim made in a July 15 Investor's Business Daily editorial -- which Media Matters for America has noted is false -- that the bill, in the blogger's words, "will make individual private medical insurance illegal." Obama responded, "You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you're talking about."

On the July 21 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity claimed Obama "continues to push the August deadline even though a conference call earlier today made it clear that he hasn't even read key provisions in the bill." Hannity also asserted that Obama is "not reading the bill too closely." Hannity then played audio of Obama stating, "I am not familiar with the provision you're talking about," falsely claiming that Obama was responding to a question "about a provision in the House bill."

On the July 21 edition of Your World, Cavuto did not challenge Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) when he claimed that Obama "doesn't even know what's in it, and he's admitted it."

And on the July 22 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy claimed that Obama was asked "about one particular part, section 102," when he stated, "I am not familiar with the provision you're talking about." Kilmeade later stated, "[S]o I thought, OK, 102 -- it's over 1,000 pages. So it's no big deal. Maybe we are demanding too much."

The IBD editorial claimed that the House tri-committee health-care reform bill includes "a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal." The editorial later stated that the "provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage." That assertion is false; the bill will not "outlaw individual private coverage"; rather, the provision to which the editorial referred establishes the conditions under which existing private plans would be exempted from the requirement that they participate in the Health Insurance Exchange. Individual health insurance plans that do not meet the "grandfather" conditions would still be available for purchase, but only through the Exchange and subject to those regulations.

From the July 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: Meanwhile, the House Energy and Commerce Committee delayed its vote on the bill indefinitely after it failed to gather enough votes from moderate Democrats. But the president isn't taking no for an answer. He continues to push the August deadline even though a conference call earlier today made it clear that he hasn't even read key provisions in the bill.

[...]

HANNITY: But American people are very skeptical of the spending. Their numbers -- they promised unemployment wouldn't go above 8 percent. They promised this would be a jolt to the economy. They promised the stimulus impact would be felt immediately.

DANA PERINO (Fox News contributor): And they promised that you can keep your health care. And the question that he was asked today on the blogger call that he did was the provision where --

HANNITY: Page 16.

PERINO: -- right --

HANNITY: Right.

PERINO: -- that said you might not be able to keep your health care. And so I think people are rightly concerned.

[...]

HANNITY: The president is rushing Congress to produce a health care bill before the August recess, but apparently he's not reading the bill too closely. Now listen to his response when asked by a blogger about a provision in the House bill.

OBAMA [audio clip]: You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you're talking about. Let me just speak for the Obama administration.

HANNITY: Wow. That's comforting.

From the July 21 edition of Fox News' Your World With Neil Cavuto:

DeMINT: [Obama's] been on a rampage to take over various aspects of our economy, to spend and create debt that we've never seen before and raise taxes to just about every American. We've got to stop him. If we don't, he's going to get right on this cap-and-trade energy tax and a lot of his other agenda items that he's just been steamrolling through Congress for his first few months.

CAVUTO: So, that's what you meant by the Waterloo remark -- you stand by that? That if you stop him on health care --

DeMINT: Oh, yeah.

CAVUTO: -- you stop these other measures?

DeMINT: The whole purpose of the Senate is to slow things down and debate them. He wants to pass things before we even read them. He did it on the stimulus plan, which has turned into a colossal failure, Neil. And now he wants to pass something that affects a fifth of our total economy in the next two weeks, and no one has even seen an entire bill. He doesn't even know what's in it, and he's admitted it. So, this makes no sense. The bill doesn't take effect until 2013, and he's saying we have to pass it in the next two weeks.

CAVUTO: But obviously you've touched some raw nerves here, including that of the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, who was saying your statements were brilliant. That, in general, Republicans aren't interested in working with Democrats to fix the problem. That's pretty clear.

From the July 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

DOOCY: So, if the president is going quickly with this, he must have a great grasp of all the stuff, right? Well, actually, yesterday he was on a conference call with, I believe, some bloggers talking about different elements of it.

KILMEADE: Everyone except us.

DOOCY: And, in particular -- actually we are going to have Kathleen Sebelius with us in about 90 minutes from now.

KILMEADE: Good enough.

DOOCY: We are going to talk to her about it. So there he is, and somebody wants to know about one particular part, section 102, because it's very important to all of us. Let's hear what the president had to say about it.

OBAMA [audio clip]: You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you're talking about. Let me just speak for the Obama administration.

KILMEADE: And here's -- so I thought, OK, 102 -- it's over 1,000 pages.

DOOCY: Right.

KILMEADE: So it's no big deal. Maybe we are demanding too much. Then I went back and I said, "OK, give me the context."

Well, it turns out the blogger is from Maine, and he says, I kept running into an Investors Business Daily article that claimed --

DOOCY: Right.

KILMEADE: -- section 102 of the House bill -- legislation -- would outlaw private insurance.

DOOCY: Right.

KILMEADE: He asked is this true? I don't care if you know what 102 is. Please have an answer for that, and make it be no.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.