The Associated Press has published a great but disturbing story. Given the frequent and deserved grief yours truly administers when the wire service lets its readers, listeners, viewers, and subscribing news organizations down, it seems only fair to acknowledge fine work when it does occur. The real question is, in the politically charged U.S. health care environment, whether the AP's subscribers and other media outlets aware of Frank Bajak's Wednesday morning report will acknowledge its existence, and adequately relay the horrors contained therein.
The story is about what's left of Venezuela's "free" healthcare system. It's in shambles. The headline reads like it might be "only" doctors who say so, but Bajak's content says otherwise. Readers here need to go to the full report, because the excerpts which follow of necessity convey only a small portion of how awful things are, including indications that the country is moving ever closer to becoming another Cuba:
The Associated Press's initial coverage of President Obama's attempt to "reinvent history," the term used yesterday by the National Journal's Ron Fournier, is instructive. Monday evening, Obama claimed that his core "you can keep your (health care) plan" guarantee — made dozens of times from 2008 through 2012 — was only relevant "if it (your current plan) hasn’t changed since the law was passed."
Let's look how the AP's Nedra Pickler — or perhaps the White House correspondents' pool reporter, if Team Obama limited press access — wrote things up (HT to NB commenter Alfred Lemire) immediately after Obama's speech (6:34 p.m. report after a speech which began at 5:58 p.m.):
If there is to be a tidal wave of defenders of President Barack Obama's "it if it hasn't changed" revision to his original guarantee — "If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep your health insurance plan" — Ron Fournier (NewsBusters history here), who toiled at the Associated Press for 20 years and joined the National Journal several years ago, will not be among them.
In 2008, Fournier advocated "accountability journalism." When he took over as AP Washington bureau chief, he pushed for what was described as "a more hard-charging, opinion oriented style of writing" as a "new direction AP should take." Both were, in my view, thinly veiled attempts to inject more left-leaning bias into what news consumers to this day still mostly believe are "objective" wire service reports. With that demonstrated pedigree, perhaps it's a surprise that Fournier would be so vocal about Obama's attempt to "reinvent history" (HT Instapundit; bolds are mine):
Well, let's see how well this unspeakably pathetic attempt to explain away the lie of the century (so far) works with the establishment press.
Two separate tweeters — Reid Epstein at Politico and Mark Knoller at CBS News — are reporting that President Obama, at a rally of the Organizing For Action faithful this evening, told his audience that "What we said was you can keep it (your health plan) if it hasn’t changed since the law passed" (HTs to Hot Air and Twitchy):
Charlie Crist will formally announce his Florida 2014 gubernatorial candidacy on Monday. He served as Republican Governor of the Sunshine State from 2007 to 2011. He is now running as a Democrat. In 2010, he fell from being a prohibitive front-runner in that year's U.S. Senate race to a virtual afterthought after Marco Rubio's ascendance.
In the course of a fawning writeup about Crist's candidacy, the Associated Press, in a story carried at the Politico, made the following historically questionable claim about Crist:
Maybe the folks running the HealthCare.gov call centers don't have an enemies list. Instead, based on the experience of Fox News's Jim Angle, it might be an enemies directory, with anyone they're aware of in the media and perhaps other organizations included therein.
Tuesday evening (noted by Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters early Wednesday morning), CNN's Drew Griffin reported on Anderson Cooper's show that there is a "behind the scenes attempt by the White House to at least keep insurers from publicly criticizing what is happening under this Affordable Care Act rollout."
Such a report occurring during a Republican or conservative administration would spread like wildfire. Sadly and predictably, that hasn't happened with CNN's bombshell. Using search strings which should have surfaced relevant results if present, I couldn't find anything on the topic at the Associated Press, New York Times, the Politco, or Washington Post.
43 months after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, another national establishment press outlet has called President Barack Obama's serially made promise that "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health plan" a lie. Specifically, Washington Post designated fact-checker Glenn Kessler has given it "four Pinocchios," the lowest possible rating on his scale reserved for "whoppers."
Kessler joins other press organizations admitting to the obvious way too late to matter. The Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, with rare exceptions (and note that the linked analysis did not directly address the individual market), studiously avoided looking at the truthfulness of Obama's core Affordable Care Act promise for 3-1/2 years. Finally, on September 30, Calvin Woodward in Paragraph 15 of a multi-item "fact check," called Obama's pledge "an empty promise, made repeatedly." Kessler's work has one remaining hole that I will identify after presenting excerpts (HT Twitchy; links are in original; bolds are mine):
Monday night on her Fox News program, Megyn Kelly played a clip of President Obama going beyond the now-infamous "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan" promise. Earlier Monday, as Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters noted, Lisa Myers and Hannah Rappleye at NBC News revealed that the Obama administration knew three years ago that "more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them."
At the 0:59 mark of the video which follows (HT Mediaite), viewers will see Kelly introduce and then replay Obama's February 2010 promise that "any insurance you have will be grandfathered in," even if it's an "Acme Insurance, just a high deductible catastrophic plan":
On Monday, as Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters noted, Lisa Myers and Hannah Rappleye at NBC News reported that the Obama administration knew three years ago that "more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them." This of course directly contradicts President Obama's repeated promises that "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan."
I will get to the gambit the administration used to convince people that it wouldn't do what it originally intended to do in the runup to Obamacare's passage, a strategy which may have resulted from objections raised in a July 2009 Investor's Business Daily editorial, later in the post. But first, we have to look at tweets sent out tonight by three Obama administration officials in response to the NBC report, all of which dodge NBC's substantive point that the Obama administration knew policy terminations would occur, and claim that "the ACA" (the Affordable Care Act) is not to blame:
Green energy is supposedly the future. Why, solar energy will break out and become a major energy source any year now, or any decade now. Or maybe never. It has been the subject of national attention ever since President Obama made it a cornerstone of his 2008 presidential campaign. Of course, what Obama claims is in energy policy has worked out to be more a of a growth-constraining, government money-wasting endeavor than anything else.
The Denver Post carried the original story on Thursday of how the federal government's first attempt at a solar auction went. The headline was accurate: "1st auction of solar rights on public lands in Colorado draws no bids." That's right. Zero. Post reporter Mark Jaffe's first sentence was charitable but acceptable: "The plan to auction rights to federal land across the West for solar-power plants got off to a rocky start Thursday when no bidders showed up for the first auction in Colorado." Too bad that two establishment press outlets which were in a position to communicate this news to the nation failed to adequately do so.
The left has been ridiculing supposedly wildly overstated estimates of the costs of building the calamitous HealthCare.gov website, the fact is that the costs involved are certainly far higher than the figures most commonly cited: "over 500 million" at Digital Trends, "over $400 million" at the New York Times. The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler is claiming that it's really only $170 milion to $300 million.
In Part 1 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that Bloomberg Government's Peter Gosselin estimated that costs incurred and costs committed to outside firms alone are already north of $1 billion. Now let's look at how much additional taxpayer money the Department of Health and Human Services may have spent on the Obamacare exchange rollout.
The left has been ridiculing supposedly wildly overstated estimates of the costs of building the calamitous HealthCare.gov website.
Based on a look at one contractor, CGI, which he must have assumed was the general contractor (i.e., the lead entity through which amounts paid to subcontracting firms would be funneled), Andrew Couts at Digital Trends originally estimated a total cost of $634 million. Couts later backed it down to "over $500 million" after identifying non-Affordable Care Act-related work with which CGI was associated. The New York Times has until recently been working with a figure of "over $400 million." All figures just noted are almost certainly miles too low, for two reasons.
At the Associated Press Friday morning, economics writer Christopher Rugaber's story had a predictably sunny and incomplete headline ("LONG-LASTING US FACTORY GOODS ORDERS RISE 3.7 PCT.") followed by an opening paragraph which told readers that "orders for most other goods fell" and which speculated without basis that the substantively bad news was "a possible sign of concern about the partial government shutdown that began Oct. 1."
That's a great reporting strategy if your goal is to keep busy news consumers inadequately informed. Those who only read the headline will believe that this economic element was unequivocally positive. Those who only get through the first paragraph will see the bad news and blame congressional Republicans, on whom the establishment media has successfully pinned the blame for the 17 percent shutdown — even though it objectively doesn't belong there. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
In among the more pathetic uses of the passive voice I've seen employed to protect guilty parties, a short, unbylined personal finance-related item at ABC's web site today by the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, identifies "5 KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL HEALTH CARE SHOPPING."
The writeup doesn't mention the fact that shopping for plans in the first place is difficult (actually, closer to impossible, given HealthCare.gov's implosion), and doesn't bring up Obamacare or its more formal name, the "Affordable Care Act," at all. As is the case with arguments favoring gun control, AP blames an inanimate object to shield the real perpetrators of the challenges consumers face. In this case, it's "insurance plans" which are to blame, thus implicating implicitly evil insurance companies and avoiding any mention of Obamacare/ACA, the real cause (produced in full for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) —
During the 2011-2012 controversy over Wisconsin's Act 10, the establishment press, led by the Associated Press, clearly took sides against Badger State Republican Governor Scott Walker and the GOP-led legislature. No one was more blatantly biased than the AP's Scott Bauer, who repeatedly insisted in 2011 and 2012 that the law "strip(s) most public employees of their union right to collectively bargain." It does not. While Act 10 sharply limits the scope of what can be negotiated, it does not eliminate unions' right to exist, or to negotiate.
Walker will be releasing a new book, "Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge," in November. Given the sustained national attention Act 10 received, the utlimately failed recall movement it inspired, and Walker's possible interest in seeking the nation's presidency in 2016, it's reasonable to believe that the AP would have wanted to carry Bauer's Monday morning review of the book as a national story. But thus far, it has not. I believe it's because Bauer comes across as a fundamentally dishonest and embarrassingly partisan sore loser.
Fox News has coverage today of the guilty plea of Jeffrey Garcia, a former congressional chief of staff who "pled guilty Monday to one felony charge and three misdemeanor charges after admitting he illegally requested hundreds of absentee ballots while he was running the campaign for Rep. Joe Garcia, who he is not related to."
The Fox story indicates that the Associated Press contributed to its report. That's odd, because a search on "Garcia absentee" (not in quotes) at the AP's national site done at 11:30 a.m. ET came up empty. That's because AP has from all appearances treated Garcia's plea and sentencing as a Florida story unworthy of national notice, despite the fact that the gaming the electoral system and allegations of voter suppression have been a national discussion topic for years. The one unbylined AP story I did find was also ridiculously sympathetic to Jeffrey:
In a Sunday morning report which tries to put the best possible face on a project which appears to be on track to make the $22 billion "Big Dig" in Massachusetts look like a petty cash disbursement, Juliet Williams at the Associated Press claimed that the $68 billion involved thus far "would span the state." No it wouldn't, unless all of the formerly Golden State north of the San Francisco Bay Area — roughly one-fourth of the state's land mass — were to secede.
Williams also wrote: "Voters in 2008 approved $10 billion in bonds to start construction on an 800-mile rail line to ferry passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2 hours and 40 minutes." Nope. It's an 800-mile rail "network" (quoting from the state's ballot measure guide) which was supposed to include San Diego to the south (see the top left at Page 6 at the link), and apparently now does not. In other text seen below, she cited that 2008 proposition, which carried by a margin of 52.7% to 47.3%, as evidence that voters "overhelmingly approved" the project.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this government shutdown has been the inability of the average person to get a handle on what's really going on.
Outfits like the network evening news shows, the Associated Press, the New York Times and others compose their spin, and almost invariably tilt their coverage towards the Obama administration and Democrats; developments favoring the GOP and conservatives, if mentioned at all, get washed away. Two examples from today of shutdown settlement ideas President Barack Obama rejected will prove the point.
Apparently desperate to claim that 17 percent government shutdown is causing pain, Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, decided that the Empire State Manufacturing Index's decline from brisk expansion to modest expansion was "a sign that the partial government shutdown may be weighing on the economy." Rugaber wrote what he did despite the actual report's emphasis that both business and labor market conditions "held steady," and its accompanying observation that manufacturers' borrowing costs have increased.
Though the headline at the AP's national site is a neutral "NY FACTORY ACTIVITY GROWS MORE SLOWLY IN OCTOBER," the one accompanying the story at some outlets (e.g., here and here — "Survey shows NY factory activity grows more slowly in October, signaling shutdown impact") is not. The four-paragraph story, presented in full for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes, follows the jump:
In a keister-covering dispatch at the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, which, based on its headline, is supposed to be a big-picture look at where recovery efforts from last year's Superstorm Sandy stand ("NORMALCY ELUDES MANY A YEAR AFTER SANDY HIT NJ"), reporter Wayne Parry spent the vast majority of his 900-plus words on problems residents are having with insurance companies.
It doesn't take a great deal of effort to determine that problems originating with the federal government and other government entities are far larger in scope.
There was no annual adjustment to Social Security benefits for inflation during 2010 or 2011. That's because the 2009 increase of 5.8 percent (announced in November 2008, and considered the "2009" increase at this table) was artifically lifted by the $4 per gallon gas prices seen in the summer of 2008, the period used in the annual inflation adjustment calculation. After gas prices came down, overall prices levels were slightly lower during the next two years.
With that background, it's hard to imagine how a headline writer at the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, could transform what writer Stephen Ohlemacher accurately described as an "historically small increase" to "among the lowest in years" — unless it's to create a false impression among those who only read headlines that the government is being unduly stingy in disbursing benefits. Excerpts from Ohlemacher's report follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in prison yesterday. As has been the case for nearly six years as his scandals and prosecution have unfolded (seen here in dozens of NewsBusters posts), press coverage has usually avoided the inconvenient fact that Kilpatrick is a Democrat, and almost completely ignored Barack Obama's hearty endorsement of him during the early stages of his 2008 presidential campaign. A YouTube video from a May 2007 speech at the Detroit Economic Club shows Obama thanking Kilpatrick for "doing an outstanding job of gathering together the leadership at every level of Detroit, to bring about the kind of renaissance that all of us anticipate for this great city."
News outlets failing to note Kilpatrick's Democratic Party affiliation yesterday included the New York Times, CBS in Detroit, the Detroit Free Press in an item carried at USA Today, and Mike Tobin at Fox News. The Associated Press outdid itself in this regard, as will be explained after the jump.
This post follows up on Noel Sheppard's item this morning on the progress of ObamaCare enrollment in Iowa, wherein we learn that there have been a "Hardy Handful" of five sign-ups thus far, with no identified press coverage outside of the Hawkeye State.
A search on "Iowa insurance" (not in quotes) at the national web site of the Associated Press done at 1:30 p.m. returned nothing recent. AP has covered the story, but has from all appearances limited its exposure to a five-paragrapher at its Iowa feed. The Iowa story's headline is definitely from the "Let's deceive readers and hope they don't read the story" branch of media brinkmanship (presented in full for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes; bolds are mine):
The big talk in conservative radio on Thursday is Barack Obama’s 37 percent approval rating in the latest AP poll. Hosts are also making fun of how AP announced this number: buried in paragraph eight of a story headlined “Poll: No Heroes In Shutdown, GOP Gets Most Blame.”
Guess what? Brent Baker reported when an AP poll found President Bush's approval rating hit a new low of 37 percent on March 10, 2006, NBC's Brian Williams led the newscast with it. When an NBC News poll found the same number on March 15, Williams led the program with it again, turning to Tim Russert to say, "let's start with that all-important benchmark for presidents, the approval rating." Now, the networks are trying to avoid this Obama number.
That was also the case during the last major government shutdown in 1995-1996, but private homeowners on the area's land were allowed to stay. Not this time. In a development which the national establishment press has ignored, a Democratic presidential administration is doing what it has constantly told the American people Republicans would do: kick elderly people out of their homes. Excerpts from the related Saturday evening Las Vegas Journal-Review report follow the jump (HT Twitchy; bolds are mine):
Never mind the government shutdown. What's really important in Obamaland is apparently whether football's Washington Redskins keep their Redskins team nickname.
The Associated Press's Julie Pace, with help from Joseph White and Darlene Superville, has an 880-word writeup on this breathtakingly important subject. Too bad the entire premise — that Indians "feel pretty strongly" about mascots and team names that depict negative stereotypes about their heritage," and that the "Redskins name is one such negative stereotype — is false, based on results reported by ESPN columnist Rick Reilly in September. First, a few AP excerpts (bolds are mine):
Earlier today, I noted (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) that "Obamacare Poster Boy" Chad Henderson, who was written up in the Washington Post, Huffington Post and several other news outlets, and who at one point was scheduled to appear on a Health and Human Services Department conference call (but ultimately didn't), has not purchased health insurance on the Obamacare exchange.
Before letting all of this fall down the media memory hole, John Sexton at Breitbart.com reported that Henderson "claimed earlier this year that he'd 'traveled to Florida' to help with Obama's reelection and also donated $1000 to the campaign" — leading to a further claim, complete with a photo of the alleged invitation, that he had been invited to the 2013 Obama Inaugural Ball. There's even more in Mr. Henderson's Instagram collection for the lazy establishment press to digest, including something they'll secretly love — an immature attack on Sarah Palin — after the jump.
Early Thursday morning, swallowing an Obama administration fallback talking point hook, line, and sinker, Juliet Williams and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, described the horrible problems users have had during the past two days in even accessing the Obamacare exchanges, including "overloaded websites and jammed phone lines," as proof of "strong demand for the private insurance plans," and of "exceptionally high interest in the new system."
Really, guys? That doesn't reconcile with other information gleaned from other sources about low enrollments and unimpressive site visit totals. I'll note just a few of them after the jump.