Here's the headline and lede of the New York Times' write-up of a Medicare regulation about advising patients of end-of-life care options:
Obama Returns to End-of-Life Plan That Caused Stir
By ROBERT PEAR
WASHINGTON — When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.
Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.
The Times never indicates that “death panels” was a lie -- PolitiFact's 2009 lie of the year, in fact. The closest it comes is a passage deep inside the article that refers to claims by Sarah Palin and John Boehner that the proposal would “encourage euthanasia” as “unsubstantiated.” Printing a politician's lie without making clear that it is a lie simply encourages politicians to lie.
While failing to make clear the falsity of the “death panels” claim it invokes, the Times article also blamed the bill, rather than the liars, for that lie -- the headline says the health care reform plan “caused” the stir, while the lead says the proposal “touched off a political storm.” No. The storm was caused by Sarah Palin lying. Blaming the subject of lies for the existence of lies is nonsensical. It also encourages lying by removing some of the potential negative consequences of lying.