The columnist in question has a history of unethical conduct, so this isn't a huge surprise -- especially since he's a flag-waving apologist for Obamacare (he's argued that people harmed by the law don't know what they're talking about, or are lying) and a hysterical critic of Republicans. But the Los Angeles Times keeps publishing the guy, so conservatives have to keep calling out his distortions and exposing his record. This particular incident entails him wrongly accusing a conservative commentator of lying about Medicaid expansion, when in fact the claim in question was accurate. Sean Davis of The Federalist explains:
The Los Angeles Times is refusing to correct an error-ridden column by disgracedcolumnist Michael Hiltzik regarding changes to Ohio’s Medicaid program by Gov. John Kasich. Rather than admit error and correct the record, Los Angeles Times reader representative Deirdre Edgar responded to a formal request for correction by asserting that “disagreement does not warrant correction,” a peculiar standard when the issue is whether facts were accurately reported by the newspaper. At issue is the charge by Hiltzik that Ben Domenech, The Federalist‘s publisher, lied when he noted on Face The Nation on June 25 that Kasich “ended up having to throw 34,000 disabled people off the [Medicaid] program” in order to make room for able-bodied adults who were made eligible through Kasich’s Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. Domenech’s claim was based on budget estimates provided by Kasich’s own administration and confirmed by multiple independent policy experts. The Wall Street Journal investigated the claim by Domenech and found it to be completely accurate.
Here's the Journal's conclusion from earlier this month: “Sure enough, in 2015 Ohio redesigned its disability determination system to remove some 34,000 people from the safety-net rolls." This point goes to an issue I raised last week about the fundamental unfairness of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, which actually favors disproportionately better off, single, childless adults over the neediest populations for which the program was created. The Republican plan would at least equalize the treatment, which would limit absurd scenarios like the Ohio decision referenced above. Davis goes on to recapitulate some of Hiltzik's career lowlights when it comes to journalistic ethics:
No stranger to garbage activism masquerading as journalism, Hiltzik has a long history of deliberately deceiving his readers, his employers, and even his fellow journalists. Deliberate deception is pretty much Hiltzik’s stock in trade. In 2006, Hiltzik was suspended after being busted for “sockpuppeting,” the practice of posting comments to news stories under a fake name. Prior to that, Hiltzik was busted for hacking into the e-mail accounts of other journalists...“We were extremely upset,” a journalist who was hacked by Hiltzik told the Washington Post. “It was an incredible invasion of privacy. There were a lot of personal e-mails in there.” In 2015, during the heat of the Republican presidential primary, Hiltzik also attacked Carly Fiorina, a cancer survivor, for having the audacity to note on the campaign trail that she had survived cancer.
Quite a piece of work. It's perhaps unreasonable to expect him to correct himself, but it would be interesting to know how egregious a factual error would need to be for the newspaper in order to cross from disagreement into correctable material. There is lots and lots of bad and misleading information clouding the healthcare debate right now.