LA Times Brings Out 'Critics' Only for McCain's Health Plan

October 22nd, 2008 4:42 PM

We've all heard of them -- the nameless "critics." Journalists often use "critics say" to make sure they're including whatever criticism they deem necessary for their stories, even if that criticism isn't attributed to anyone.

In the case of the Oct. 21 Los Angeles Times, two writers offered their "assessment" of McCain's and Obama's health care plans, but the chorus of "critics" surfaced only for McCain. 

After listing some of the provisions of McCain's plan, Michael Hiltzik and Lisa Girion launched into what unnamed critics had to say about it. But when they listed tenets of Obama's plan, they didn't bother to question it. 

They failed to tell readers what "critics say" about Obama's play-or-pay mandate for employers or his National Health Insurance Exchange that would regulate private insurance.

One statement left a door wide open for a critique: That in Obama's plan, "Private insurers would have to compete with a federally sponsored national health plan that would resemble coverage currently offered to federal employees."

It doesn't take a very sophisticated critic to see that pitting private insurers against a government-run, taxpayer-subsidized health plan gives the government a clear advantage in the market. But Hiltzik and Girion didn't include any attempts at gauging the effects of such a move.

This lopsided treatment followed an introduction in which the writers rehashed an Obama attack on McCain, painting his promise of "deregulation" as a negative. 

Visit here for more on the candidates' plans.