Contradicting O'Reilly, Cavuto acknowledges Fox pushed health care jail-time falsehood


Neil Cavuto admitted that Fox News has pushed the false claim that under the health care reform legislation individuals can be sent to jail for not having health insurance, saying: "I've researched this and a number of Fox personalities had made that comment." Cavuto's acknowledgment contradicts Bill O'Reilly's false claim that "[n]obody" on Fox advanced the assertion.

Cavuto "researched this," admits "a number of Fox personalities" made the false claim

Cavuto: "I've researched this, and a number of Fox personalities had made that comment." On the April 14 edition of Your World, Cavuto responded to Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) prior statement during a town hall meeting that contrary to a constituent's claim, the idea that individuals could be put in jail for not having health insurance under the recently-passed health care legislation "makes for good TV news on Fox but that isn't the intention." Cavuto admitted to Coburn regarding the jail-time falsehood: "You're quite right, I've researched this and a number of Fox personalities had made that comment."

Indeed, Fox has relentlessly pushed the jail-time falsehood. As Cavuto noted, several Fox News personalities made the claim. These personalities include Glenn Beck, Dick Morris, Sean Hannity, Andrew Napolitano, and Greta Van Susteren, as well as Fox News' website Fox Nation and a Fox & Friends on-screen caption.

By contrast, O'Reilly "researched" Coburn's statement, falsely claimed "[n]obody" on Fox pushed the falsehood

O'Reilly: "[W]e researched" and "[n]obody" on Fox "ever said you are going to jail if you don't buy health insurance." On the April 13 edition of Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly told Coburn: "[Y]ou don't know anybody on Fox News -- because there hasn't been anyone -- that said people will go to jail if they don't buy mandatory insurance." He added: "[W]e researched to find out if anybody on Fox News had ever said you're going to jail if you don't buy health insurance. Nobody has ever said it. So it seems to me is what you did was you used Fox News as a whipping boy when we didn't qualify there. ... [Y]ou were wrong to do that, Senator, with all due respect."

Under reform law, no "criminal ... penalties" for failure to have health insurance coverage

JCT: "Non-compliance with" the insurance mandate "is not subject to criminal or civil penalties." The Joint Committee on Taxation stated in its analysis of the revenue provisions of the Senate health care reform bill and the health care reconciliation bill that "individuals who fail to maintain minimum essential [health insurance] coverage in 2016 are subject" to a fee, but that "[n]on-compliance" with that provision "is not subject to criminal or civil penalties."

Earlier versions of reform legislation provided for "criminal penalties" only for those who refused to pay the fee. Both the House and the Senate versions of health care reform required individuals to be covered by a minimum level of health insurance or pay a monetary penalty. A November 2009 letter from the Joint Committee on Taxation on the House health care bill stated that individuals who did not have such coverage and refused to pay the fine would be subject to "civil and criminal penalties for noncompliance." The committee's letter explains that the tax code provides penalties to prevent tax evasion of any sort: "The Code provides for both civil and criminal penalties to ensure complete and accurate reporting of tax liability and to discourage fraudulent attempts to defeat or evade tax." [Joint Committee on Taxation letter, 11/5/09]

Fox News Channel
Bill O'Reilly, Neil Cavuto
The O'Reilly Factor
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