Fox & Friends Pushes Health Care Misinformation Using Case Of Canadian Baby

Fox & Friends repeatedly used the tragic story of a 1-year old Canadian baby in a permanent coma to advance its health care reform misinformation, falsely claiming that the Canadian hospital is the cause of the infant's impending death, and fearmongering about a potential similar situation in America. In fact, the hospital is in no way the cause of the baby's coma or death, and comparisons between the health care law and the Canadian system are baseless.

Fox & Friends Cites Canadian Infant's Medical Tragedy To Push Health Care Misinformation

Johnson: Canadian Infant Debate “Could Happen Here In This Country With The Bureaucratic Bumbling Of Obamacare.” On the February 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy reported on a story about a 1-year-old Canadian infant who is in a permanent coma and at the center of a debate over whether his life should be sustained in order to allow him to die at home. Doocy asked Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr., “Is government-run health care in Canada taking away parents' rights?” Johnson responded, “Yes, and unfortunately we could have it here.” Johnson later also agreed with Doocy's statements that “Canada's got that government-mandated health care” and “that could happen in the United States.” Johnson later claimed, “It's a sad but true lesson to what could happen here in this country with the bureaucratic bumbling of Obamacare.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/23/11]

Carlson: Story “Brings Up The Whole Other Debate Of Government-Run Health Care In ... The United States.” Earlier in the show, during an interview with the baby's father, Moe Maraachli, co-host Gretchen Carlson claimed that the story “brings up the whole other debate of government-run health care in Canada versus right here in the United States.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/23/11]

In Fact, U.S. Health Care System Is Not Government-Run, Nor Is It Similar To The Canadian Single-Payer System

PolitiFact: “Government Takeover Of Health Care” Is The “Lie Of The Year.” In its article declaring “a government takeover of health care” the 2010 Lie of the Year, PolitiFact wrote:

“Government takeover” conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees. But the law Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market:

· Employers will continue to provide health insurance to the majority of Americans through private insurance companies.

· Contrary to the claim, more people will get private health coverage. The law sets up “exchanges” where private insurers will compete to provide coverage to people who don't have it.

· The government will not seize control of hospitals or nationalize doctors.

· The law does not include the public option, a government-run insurance plan that would have competed with private insurers.

· The law gives tax credits to people who have difficulty affording insurance, so they can buy their coverage from private providers on the exchange. But here too, the approach relies on a free market with regulations, not socialized medicine.

PolitiFact reporters have studied the 906-page bill and interviewed independent health care experts. We have concluded it is inaccurate to call the plan a government takeover because it relies largely on the existing system of health coverage provided by employers.

It's true that the law does significantly increase government regulation of health insurers. But it is, at its heart, a system that relies on private companies and the free market.

Republicans who maintain the Democratic plan is a government takeover say that characterization is justified because the plan increases federal regulation and will require Americans to buy health insurance.

But while those provisions are real, the majority of Americans will continue to get coverage from private insurers. And it will bring new business for the insurance industry: People who don“t currently have coverage will get it, for the most part, from private insurance companies. [PolitiFact, 12/16/10]

Klein: Health Care Legislation Will Create “A Uniquely American System.” In a June 9, 2009 Washington Post article, “Health Reform for Beginners: The Difference Between Socialized Medicine, Single-Payer Health Care, and What We'll Be Getting,” Ezra Klein explained that “the promiscuous use of the terms” single-payer and socialized health care “has created a rather confused population.” According to Klein, "[W]hat we're actually going to get is not socialized medicine or single-payer health care. It's a hybrid system." Unlike the Canadian system, the American system will have “private doctors and private hospitals” and will “be a uniquely American system, and hard to describe with a single epithet.” [Washington Post, 6/9/09]

Obama Has Rejected Canadian-Style Single-Payer System And U.K.-Style Nationalized Health Care. During a March 26, 2009, online town hall discussion, Obama was asked, “Why can we not have a universal health care system, like many European countries, where people are treated based on needs rather than financial resources?” He replied, in part, “I actually want a universal health care system,” adding that rather than adopting a “single-payer system” like Canada's, “what I think we should do is to build on the system that we have and fill some of these gaps.” [White House, 3/26/09]

Fox & Friends Falsely Claims That The Baby Was “Ordered To Die” By A “Health Care Panel”

Doocy: Baby “Ordered To Die By A Health Care Panel.” On Fox & Friends, Doocy teased an interview with the baby's father, Moe Maraachli, by claiming the baby was “ordered to die by a government-run health care panel.” During the tease, the following on-screen graphic aired:

death panels chyron

[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/23/11]

Doocy: “A Government-Run Health Panel Says A Baby Must Die.” In a second tease for the interview with Maraachli, Doocy claimed, “A government-run health panel says a baby boy must die, and there's nothing the parents can do to stop it.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/23/11]

Carlson: “A Father Is Fighting To Keep His Dying Baby Boy Alive ... But A Canadian Court Is Ordering The Hospital In Canada To Remove His Breathing Tube.” Co-host Gretchen Carlson introduced the interview by claiming: “A father is fighting to keep his dying baby boy alive. Baby Joseph has been clinging to life since November, but a Canadian court is ordering the hospital in Canada to remove his breathing tube. His parents now fighting back, waiting for a miracle.” During the interview, Carlson, the father, and spokesman Alex Schadenberg acknowledged that the baby is “dependent on the ventilator.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/23/11]

Kilmeade: “Despite His Family's Pleas, This Little Canadian Boy Ordered To Die By A Government-Run Health Panel.” Teasing the segment with Peter Johnson Jr., co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed, “Despite his family's pleas, this little Canadian boy ordered to die by a government-run health panel.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/23/11]

Fox & Friends: “A Father Being Forced To Let His Child Die.” During the segment with Johnson, the following on-screen graphic aired:

PJJ chyron

[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/23/11]

In Fact, Doctors Are Trying To Avoid Increasing The Baby's Suffering And The Baby Has “No Prospect Of Recovery”

Doctors: Procedure Would “Likely Cause Much Discomfort” And “Increase The Risk Of Infection And Pneumonia.” According to the Toronto Sun:

The baby's father and mother, Sana Nader, 35, wanted the same treatment for Joseph as was given to their daughter before she died, eight years ago at 18 months -- give Joseph a tracheotomy and ventilation, and allow them to take him home to die what would be a peaceful death.

But Joseph's doctors say while a tracheotomy -- an incision is made in a patient's airway, to help breathing -- may prolong the baby's life, it's futile in this case and would likely cause much discomfort. It would certainly also increase the risk of infection and pneumonia, they argue.

“The medical officials would not want this little boy to suffer,” [Superior Court Justice Helen] Rady said. [Toronto Sun, 2/18/11]

Canadian Baby's Condition Irreversible, He Remains In A “Persistent Vegetative State.” According to the Canadian news agency Postmedia News:

Joseph has been at London's Victoria Hospital since October, suffering from severe and progressively deteriorating neurological problems.

His brain is losing function and he can't breathe on his own or swallow.

After a battery of tests and various examinations, specialists in London concluded that Joseph has no prospect of recovery and is in a persistent vegetative state. [Postmedia News, 2/17/11]

Numerous Specialists Concluded That Joseph “Has No Prospect Of Recovery.” According to Postmedia News:

One-year-old Joseph Maraachli has been at the Victoria Hospital in London since mid-October, suffering from a “severe and progressively deteriorating neurological state,” according to medical reports.

Joseph's brain is losing function, his reflexes and responses to stimulation are abnormal, he can't breathe on his own or swallow. Over the past three months, he has been examined by various specialists, including pediatric neurologists who ordered MRIs and brain scans. The doctors have concluded that Joseph has no prospect of recovery and will only continue to deteriorate. A decision was made to remove Joseph's breathing tube, which is keeping his airway clear of fluids and secretions on which he would otherwise choke. [Postmedia News,1/28/11]

Fox's Kelly Previously Used Case To Raise Specter Of Death Panels

Kelly Opened Segment By Claiming A “Board That Oversees The Government-Run Health Care System” Ordered Joseph's Parents “To Consent To The Death Of Their Son.” On the February 22 edition of Fox News' America Live, host Megyn Kelly highlighted the case and claimed that Joseph's parents were “ordered to let their 13-month-old boy die.” During discussion of the case, guest Wendy Murphy claimed the decision was “a cost issue.” [Media Matters, 2/22/11]