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'Lie of the Year' -- Aided and Abetted by the Media

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

PolitiFact has awarded their "Lie of the Year" to President Barack Obama for his promise that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it."

PolitiFact, a feature of the Tampa Bay Times, purports to rate the truthfulness of statements/assertions made by politicians. The accurate are rated "true," then slide down the scale to "mostly true," 'half true," "mostly false" and "false." The biggest "lies" -- the most egregious -- are awarded, as PolitiFact puts it, a "Pants on Fire!" rating. (Full disclosure: As I recently wrote, PunditFact, its sister feature, recently gave me an undeserved "mostly false.")


What's puzzling is that PolitiFact, until now, called Obama's statement "true" and later "half true." In 2008 PolitiFact rated then-candidate Obama's "you can keep it" statement as "true," because "Obama is accurately describing his health care plan here." As The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto notes: "PolitiFact actually rated Obama's promise as 'true' on the grounds that in making the promise, he was making the promise. ... In 2008 it was but a promise, which Obama might or might not have intended and might or might not have been able to keep."

Then in 2009, when PolitiFact re-fact-checked the same statement, they rated Obama's statement as "half true." The Obamacare promise stayed stuck on "half true" even when PolitiFact again re-re-fact-checked it in 2012.

"By 2012," writes Taranto, "we now know, it was a full-fledged fraud, but exposing it conclusively as such would have required a degree of expertise few journalists have. ... Its past evaluations of the statement were not 'fact checks' at all, merely opinion pieces endorsing Obamacare."

Stupid, Obama is not. Why would he continue this blatantly false assertion about Obamacare, doctors and plans? He counted on the supposed media "watchdog" to look the other way, fall asleep or cheer him on.

Recall the comments by pundit Joan Walsh of leftwing Slate.com on the 2008 campaign trail: "I was struck, when I got to Iowa and New Hampshire in January, by how our media colleagues were just swooning over Barack Obama. That is not too strong a word. They were swooning."


Two of America's most influential newspapers admitted bias -- belatedly of course -- in their coverage of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. The Washington Post's ombudsperson, Deborah Howell, examined her paper's 2008 election coverage: "The op-ed page ran far more laudatory opinion pieces on Obama, 32, than on Sen. John McCain, 13. There were far more negative pieces about McCain, 58, than there were about Obama, 32, and Obama got the editorial board's endorsement. ...

"Stories and photos about Obama in the news pages outnumbered those devoted to McCain. Reporters, photographers and editors found the candidacy of Obama, the first African-American major-party nominee, more newsworthy and historic. ..."

As to The New York Times, former executive editor and columnist Bill Keller, wrote: "If the 2012 election were held in the newsrooms of America and pitted Sarah Palin against Barack Obama, I doubt Palin would get 10 percent of the vote. However tempting the newsworthy havoc of a Palin presidency, I'm pretty sure most journalists would recoil in horror from the idea."

The Times' ombudsman, Arthur S. Brisbane, acknowledged his paper is biased to the left: "Across the paper's many departments ... so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism -- for lack of a better term -- that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times. As a result, developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in The Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects."


A we-know-best smugness explains Obama's vision, but his protectors in the media help provide the means to pull it off. Surely people would jump at the chance to unload their current policies, described by Obama as "lousy" and "substandard." Did the mainstream media spend much time in asking those with "substandard" policies whether they might, you know, prefer them?

Pre-Obamacare, 85 percent of Americans had health care coverage. According to an ABC News/Kaiser Family Foundation/USA Today survey, "88 percent of the insured rate their coverage as excellent or good" and "89 percent are satisfied with the quality of care they receive." No, thought Obama, wait until these duped people learn to appreciate the superiority of the Obamacare product.

Obama now asserts that, "Thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act ... the cost of health care is now growing at the slowest rate in 50 years." Really? The Wall Street Journal, in its opinion page, says growth rates began declining more than 10 years ago and "bottomed out at 3.9 percent in 2009 -- the worst year of the Great Recession, where it has stayed ever since." This was, of course, before Obamacare was enacted in 2010.

The problem remains that the President -- despite his best efforts -- has failed to repeal an economics law of physics: There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Obamacare is no exception. Good luck in getting PolitiFact to fact check that.


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