Research/Study Research/Study

Conservative Media Turn To Serial Misinformer Betsy McCaughey To Stoke Fears About Ebola

McCaughey Pushed PolitiFact's 2009 Lie Of The Year That ACA Included Death Panels

Right-wing media outlets have turned to serial misinformer Betsy McCaughey as their go-to expert on the Ebola outbreak. But McCaughey has a history of hyping false health care myths and was the chief architect behind the myth that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) included so-called “death panels,” a discredited claim that McCaughey pushed even after being dubbed PolitiFact's Lie of the Year in 2009.

  • Right-Wing Media Gives Betsy McCaughey A Platform To Talk About Ebola

    Fox News

    McCaughey: CDC Director Tom Frieden Used A “Weasel Word” When He Was Talking About The Spread Of Ebola. On the October 14 edition of Fox News' Your World, McCaughey accused Frieden of using a “weasel word” when he predicted that Ebola would not spread “widely” in the United States. She also used her Fox platform to push for a travel ban from West Africa to the United States:

    MCCAUGHEY: Tom Frieden said, again and again in the last three months, we may have an isolated case or two, but Ebola will not spread “widely.” That is the weasel word he used again and again, “widely.” What does “widely” mean? Well, 50 states is pretty wide. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 10/14/14]

    The Sean Hannity Show

    McCaughey: “We Certainly Cannot Trust The CDC. They Have Been Co-Opted By The Obama Administration.” On October 14 edition of The Sean Hannity Show, McCaughey argued that Americans “certainly cannot trust the CDC,” because “they are now part of the White House lie machine ... pander[ing] to West Africa”:

    MCCAUGHEY: Well we certainly cannot trust the CDC. They have been co-opted by the Obama administration; they are now part of the White House lie machine. So when you hear members of the CDC say “don't worry, we've taken care of it,” that is definitely cause to worry.


    MCCAUGHEY: I can tell you that the people who are most in danger from Ebola in the United States are doctors and nurses and other hospital workers, and it is nothing short of a crime, an actual crime, to put their lives in danger in order to pander to West Africa. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 10/14/14]

    McCaughey: The CDC's Declaration That They Can Manage Ebola A “Bald-Faced Lie.” In an October 13 op-ed published by, McCaughey accused Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, Tom Frieden, of making false claims about hospital preparedness to “bolster the policy of his boss, President Obama.” McCaughey called Dr. Frieden's previous statements that American hospitals would be able to care for Ebola patients “a bald-faced lie”:

    The latest Texas case of Ebola -- this time a health care worker who treated the first case -- not only is more evidence that there's no room for error in treating Ebola, but that the CDC's bold declaration that US hospitals can safely manage patients with Ebola is a bald-faced lie.


    Frieden is falsely claiming hospitals are ready in order to bolster the policy of his boss, President Obama, who refuses to suspend travel visas from the affected countries. But how many American lives should be put at risk for the sake of political correctness? Frieden says Ebola won't spread “widely” here. That's a weasel word. [, 10/13/14]

    The Wall Street Journal

    McCaughey: Scientists And The World Health Organization Are To Blame For The Spread Of Ebola. During an October 13 appearance on WSJ Live, McCaughey suggested that the CDC has been lying to the public for months about the United States' Ebola preparedness. McCaughey then blamed scientists and the World Health Organization for “moving this deadly virus to other continents” by moving infected patients back to their home countries for treatment:

    MCCAUGHEY: Since July, the CDC has been telling the world, “nothing to worry about American hospitals can handle Ebola; all they need is an intensive care unit to isolate the patient.” Well clearly that is a whopper.


    MCCAUGHEY: They have not prepared the hospitals; nurses around the country are outraged. But the bigger question is, should we have to deal with Ebola on this continent? Since 1976, when this virus was discovered, it was contained to one continent. And now we see scientists and the World Health Organization moving this deadly virus to other continents; to Australia, to Europe, to North America, by sending to these countries infected patients. [WSJ Live, 10/13/14]

    The Laura Ingraham Show

    McCaughey: Frieden “Has Been Bamboozling Us With Sugar-Coated Language.” While guest-hosting the October 14 edition of The Laura Ingraham Show, McCaughey claimed that CDC Director Frieden “has been bamboozling us with sugar-coated language” for months about Ebola and “mislead Congress.” [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 10/14/14]

    McCaughey Has A History Of Pushing Debunked Health Care Myths

    McCaughey Hyped Myth That Obamacare Will Harm Medicare Recipients. In 2013, McCaughey claimed that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was “designed to vastly expand Medicaid and pay for it by eviscerating Medicare,” despite the fact that the ACA does not cut Medicare benefits and actually strengthens the program. [Media Matters, 10/25/13]

    McCaughey Falsely Claimed Repeal Of Health Care Reform Would Help Deficit. In a 2011 appearance on Fox News' Your World, McCaughey falsely asserted that repealing the ACA would help solve the deficit problem. [Media Matters, 5/16/11]

    McCaughey Falsely Claimed That The ACA Will Put “Federal Government In Charge Of Your Health Care.” During a 2013 appearance on Fox & Friends, McCaughey falsely claimed that the ACA would provide a “one-size-fits-all” plan and that it would put “the federal government in charge of your health care for the first time.” [Media Matters, 1/14/13]

    McCaughey Pushed Myth That Healthcare Reform Would Cost Many People Their Jobs. During a 2011 appearance on Your World, McCaughey claimed that Obamacare would cause people to lose their jobs. But experts explained that that the ACA would actually boost the economy and employment over time. [Media Matters, 11/20/12]

    McCaughey Was The Leading Voice In Myth That ACA Included Death Panels

    McCaughey Falsely Claimed Healthcare Reform Bill Would Require End-Of-Life Counseling. During several media appearances and op-eds in 2009, McCaughey pushed the myth that the healthcare reform bill then being crafted in the House of Representatives would require end-of-life counseling for seniors “that will tell them how to end their life sooner.” This lie quickly spread throughout right-wing media and became known as death panels. [Media Matters, 7/31/09]

    McCaughey Resurrected The Debunked Death Panel Myth In 2011. Despite PolitiFact rating the ACA “death panel” claims as their “Lie of the Year” in 2009, McCaughey revived the debunked claim in 2011 on Fox Business. [Media Matters, 1/3/11]