Wallace's “fact check” ignores his prior “death book” falsehoods, advances new one

Purporting to “fact check” an interview with assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth from the previous week's edition of Fox News Sunday about an end-of-life educational booklet used by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Chris Wallace falsely claimed, “The VHA handbook specifically mentions only one document, 'Your Life, Your Choices,' ” which he noted “critics call the death book.” Wallace's “fact check” segment in no way addressed several distortions and falsehoods he and former Bush administration aide Jim Towey advanced during an interview on the booklet that also aired during the August 23 broadcast.

From the August 30 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: It was an explosive interview on an explosive subject. Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, defending use of the document “Your Life, Your Choices.” But the interview raised almost as many questions as it answered. So this week we did a fact check on the controversy. First, whether what critics call the death book is actually being used.

DUCKWORTH: It will be out in 2010. It's not yet out. So it totally was not correct by saying --

WALLACE: Secretary Duckworth, that's just not true.

WALLACE: We checked again this week and Secretary Duckworth is wrong. On July 2, the Veterans Health Administration reinstated the work workbook for veterans, called “Your Life, Your Choices,” and urged health care practitioners to use it. Here's why it's so controversial. Page 21 is a worksheet in which veterans are asked to assess whether in certain situations life would be difficult but acceptable; worth living, but just barely; or not worth living. Situations like “I can no longer walk but get around in a wheelchair,” “I am a severe financial burden on my family,” and “I cannot seem to 'shake the blues,' ” which raises the question: How much is the VA pushing “Your Life, Your Choices”?

DUCKWORTH: Let me make a correction there, Chris. What our practitioners were told was to refer patients to any type of a tool.

WALLACE: Duckworth is both right and wrong. In the VHA handbook, they do tell doctors to provide written materials such as Appendix C, and at another point, other published resources. But the VHA handbook specifically mentions only one document, “Your Life, Your Choices.”

Wallace falsely claims VHA handbook “specifically mentions only one document”

Wallace: “VHA handbook only specifically mentions one document, 'Your Life, Your Choices.' ” Purporting to “fact check” Duckworth's statement that “what our practitioners were told was to refer patients to any type of a tool,” Wallace said she was “both right and wrong” because while the VHA handbook does “tell doctors to provide written materials such as Appendix C, and at another point, other published resources,” the handbook “specifically mentions only one document, 'Your Life, Your Choices.'”

VHA handbook also “specifically mentions” VA's “What You Should Know About Advance Directives.” In fact, the handbook's “Appendix C” to which Wallace refers “specifically mentions” and links to a copy of “Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Form 10-0137B, What You Should Know About Advance Directives.” From the VHA's Advance Care Planning And Management Of Advance Directives handbook Appendix C:


Below is an embedded copy of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Form 10-0137B, What You Should Know About Advance Directives. VA Form 10-0137B can also be found on the VA Forms Intranet web site at http://vaww.va.gov/vaforms , and Internet web site at http://www.va.gov/vaforms/ . This is to be used for local reproduction. This form will also be stocked by the Hines Service and Distribution Center (formerly known as the Forms and Publications Depot). [VHA handbook 1004.02A Appendix C]

Wallace previously cropped the handbook to remove reference to other docs, falsely claimed VA doctors were required to refer vets to “Your Life, Your Choices.” On the August 23 edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace cropped the handbook's statements that veterans could be directed to “other published resources” and Appendix C, falsely suggesting that the handbook instructed practitioners to direct veterans solely to “Your Life, Your Choices.” Moreover, during his interview with Duckworth, Wallace falsely claimed that “more than a month ago -- VA health practitioners were told to refer all veterans -- not just end-of-life veterans, but all 24 million veterans -- to this document, 'Your Life, Your Choices.' [Fox News Sunday, 8/23/09]

Fox News Sunday previously advanced numerous distortions and falsehoods -- unacknowledged in “fact check” -- about “Your Life, Your Choices”

Wallace, Towey distorted passage that says: “If I'm a vegetable, pull the plug.” While interviewing Towey, Wallace presented a statement from “Your Life, Your Choices” that asked, “Have you ever heard anyone say, 'If I'm a vegetable, pull the plug'? ” advancing Towey's earlier distortion from an August 18 Wall Street Journal op-ed that the passage was “aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political 'push poll.' ” As the context makes clear, a passage explaining the importance of being very specific regarding your end-of-life preferences, “Your Life, Your Choices” says that statements like, “If I'm a vegetable, pull the plug,” can mean different things to different people. [Fox News Sunday, 8/23/09]

Wallace, Towey falsely claimed Bush suspended purported “death book” use. Wallace claimed during his interview with Towey that “Bush suspended the use of this document” and the Obama administration “reinstate[d] it.” In fact, Bush's VA actually promoted the document throughout his presidency, as documented by Daily Kos blogger Jed Lewison. [Fox News Sunday, 8/23/09]