MEDICARE MUDDLE: The Post takes its turn!

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2012

Part 3—The Post refuses to serve: It isn’t hard to repeat Mitt Romney’s charges concerning the Medicare program.

There is little confusion or murk about what the candidate says. Last Thursday, in the Washington Post, Rosalind Helderman reported his charges in a 1200-word news report.

To this day, Helderman’s piece constitutes the Post’s main attempt to report Romney’s charges. The scribe had little trouble reporting what those charges are:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/campaigns-fierce-rhetoric-on-medicare-dims-hope-for-a-solution-experts-say/2012/08/15/65cd679a-e6f1-11e1-936a-b801f1abab19_story.html
HELDERMAN (8/16/121): On Wednesday, Romney accused President Obama of siphoning Medicare dollars to fund his 2010 health-care law, and he promised to restore that money if elected.

[...]

Romney promised that if elected, he would restore the money to the program as a way to bolster it for current retirees.

"My commitment is, if I become president, I'm going to restore that $716 billion to the Medicare trust fund so that current seniors can know that trust fund is not being raided," Romney said on CBS News's "This Morning."
According to Romney, Obama had “siphoned” $716 billion from the Medicare trust fund. He had used the money “to fund his 2010 health-care law.”

Romney said he would restore the money if he reached the White House. He seemed to say that current retirees were being harmed by Obama’s “raid.”

These charges were quite straightforward—though we’ll guess that many Post readers would have a hard time explaining the way “the Medicare trust fund” works. (Helderman made no attempt to help those readers out.) But just in case there was any confusion, Helderman also quoted Romney’s running-mate.

He made an additional charge:
HELDERMAN: "We're going to have this debate, and we're going to win this debate," [Paul] Ryan said. "It's the president who took $716 billion...from the Medicare program to spend on Obamacare. That's cuts to current seniors that will lead to less services for current seniors. We don't do that. We actually say end the raid and restore that, so that those seniors get the benefits today that they organize their lives around."
According to Ryan, Obama’s “raid” of the $716 billion would lead to fewer services for current senior citizens. According to Ryan, Obama took the money “from the Medicare program to spend on Obamacare.”

The charges by Romney and Ryan seem to be quite straightforward. In a country whose seniors rely on Medicare, they sound like serious charges.

Now we reach the part of our story which is truly remarkable:

In her 1200-word news report, Helderman made no attempt to say if these charges were accurate! And good lord! She even quoted RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who said Obama has “blood on his hands" because of this conduct. "He's the one that's destroying Medicare,” Priebus was quoted saying.

Astonishing, isn’t it? Even as she reported those charges, Helderman made no attempt to say if the charges were accurate! Helderman wrote a long news report—and she refused to serve.

In fairness, Helderman wasn’t alone in her refusal to serve. By publishing this news report, the Washington Post refused to serve, from its money-grubbing ownership right on down.

Helderman’s editor also refused to serve—and it’s likely that he or she ordered the focus of this piece. As a result, readers read a list of aggressive charges—but they were never told if the charges were accurate. Just for starters, Helderman made no attempt to address these obvious questions:
Did Obama take $716 billion from the Medicare trust fund?
Did he somehow use that money to pay for Obamacare?
Those are blindingly obvious questions. But go ahead—read the full report. Helderman made no attempt to answer those blindingly obvious questions. Instead, she built her report around a fatuous theme:

Budget experts are concerned about the campaign's "fierce rhetoric."

In even a slightly more rational world, the Washington Post’s refusal to serve would seem completely astounding. Sadly, we don’t live in that world. In our world, elementary intellectual procedures have almost completely broken down. Consider:

In this case, the Post reports that Romney’s charges are turning fierce—so fierce that experts are concerned. But the Post doesn’t make the slightest attempt to say if his fierce charges are accurate!

As we have noted, the Washington Post’s refusal to serve is being matched by the New York Times. Today, the Times presents a lengthy, jumbled report about that $716 billion. But go ahead! Read the whole thing—and study its graphic! See if reporter Jackie Calmes attempts to answer these questions:
Did Obama take $716 billion from the Medicare trust fund?
Did he somehow use that money to pay for Obamacare?
Romney, Ryan and Priebus have been making clear charges against Obama. But with very few exceptions, major American news orgs have refused to examine the accuracy of these charges. And of one thing you can be sure:

Sargent and Capehart won’t say a word about the Post’s refusal to serve. Neither will Ezra Klein, slipping Post bucks in his pocket.

Your darling Rachel won’t name-call the Post, although she’ll clown for you all night long. The millionaire children of the “press corps” do not discuss their own.

(Even your darling Chris Hayes won’t go there—and we know how pure he is! Do you think Jonathan Chait will tell you? Please don’t mention that child!)

The Post and the Times are refusing to serve. They're helped in this remarkable task by a large group of well-paid enablers.

Tomorrow: What Sarah Kliff (and others have) said

Friday: When Romney appeared on “This Morning”

14 comments:

  1. The Anonymous IdiotAugust 23, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    Wouldn't this space have been better used to to tell us why Rachel Maddow's once-new book is super important and awesome?

    No. But really, some might think this column proves I'm wrong about Somerby being unable to talk about anything relevant.

    But I say it just proves how irrelevant he really is! See how there's not a single comment?

    Nobody cares about you Bob! You're useless and...

    What? What is it?

    OK OK OK already, mom!

    Damnit, I've gotta go clean my room.

    ReplyDelete
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