For much of the fall, when major news organizations went into feeding-frenzy mode over the Affordable Care Act, an unsettling pattern emerged. The media kept shining a spotlight on various “horror stories” – regular Americans adversely affected by “Obamacare” – and those stories kept crumbling when subjected to scrutiny.
The problem persists. Reader R.B. passed along this striking report from Maggie Mahar, who explained that many of the “tales of Obamacare’s innocent victims … just aren’t true.”
The Wire: Lessons from the Obamacare ‘Horror Stories’
At the root of every debunked, cancelled plan, Obamacare “horror story” is usually a person who isn’t as informed as he or she would like to believe. Usually that person is a journalist. Last week Maggie Mahar at HealthInsurance.org debunked yet another horror story, but she didn’t blame the misguided former policy holders so much as the journalist who wrote the story. “It appeared that no one at the Star-Telegram even attempted to run a background check on the sources, or fact check their stories,” Mahar wrote. “I couldn’t help but wonder: ‘Why?’”
Obamacare horror story debunkings are actually just journalists calling out their peers. While the Obamacare “victim” — usually someone who’s policy was cancelled — may be motivated by political leanings, an aversion to subsidies or just a lack of knowledge, it’s not their job to give an accurate, thorough report on the issue from all sides. “The whole concept of the media checking the media is a new phenomenon,” Bill Adair of PolitiFact told Poynter in November. There was once a time when journalists were a little more discreet with their critics of their peers, but now calling people out is the norm. And with Obamacare, which leads all kinds of reporters to pick and choose details, everyone (everyone) can learn something from the mistakes of others. Here are the key lessons from the last three months of bogus horror stories.
TPM: How The GOP Is Putting Uninsured Americans At Risk … In One Chart
The GOP’s relentless assault on Obamacare hasn’t succeeded in repealing or defunding the law, but it has managed to do something: prevent a lot of uninsured Americans from getting health insurance.
With three months of Obamacare enrollment completed, the effect of the Republican intransigence on health care reform can be seen in new data compiled by Theda Skocpol, professor of government and sociology at Harvard University and director of the Scholars Strategy Network.
ThinkProgress: Anatomy Of A Hit Job: Expert Featured On 60 Minutes Exposes How Show Knowingly Ignored Facts On Clean Energy
“What’s the matter with 60 Minutes?”
That was the question asked by many, after the program on Sunday aired what has since been slammed as an inaccurate portrayal of the cleantech industry.
Besides the fact that the piece made no mention of climate change — which is one of the stronger arguments behind cleantech — the report largely passed over the recent explosive growth in wind power, solar power, LED lights and electric vehicles.
But it’s not like 60 Minutes wasn’t told about the recent major successes in the clean tech industry. Robert Rapier, Chief Technology Officer at Merica International, was interviewed by 60 Minutes, and spoke to them at length about cleantech’s many successes. But the only comments included were ones about cleantech investor Vinod Khosla, who CBS asserts is “known as the father of the cleantech revolution” (he is not).
Rapier spoke with ClimateProgress on Monday about what got left out of the interview.
Steve Benen: Winter, climate, and what’s truly ‘laughable’
Every year, much of the world experiences a phenomenon known as “seasons.” For many Americans, this means higher temperatures in the summer and lower temperatures in the winter. What does this have to do with global climate change? Not a whole lot.
But just as one season leads to another, the transition from fall to winter brings out the worst in too many conservatives. Indeed, in seems every winter, like clockwork, far-right yahoos start arguing, “It’s cold in winter, therefore global warming can’t be real.” Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), playing his usual role, insisted yesterday that freezing temperatures in much of the country is obviously proof that climate science itself is “laughable.”
Something in this debate is laughable, but I’m afraid it isn’t the science.