The Consequences of Conservative Lies–And News Media’s Failure to Confront Them

When you read something like this, it’s tempting to blame the victim (boldface mine):

Amanda Mayhew is one of the beneficiaries [of the ACA, also known as Obamacare]. She earns little enough to qualify for Medicaid under the new guidelines, and she enrolled in August. She has been to the dentist five times to begin salvaging her neglected teeth, has had a dermatologist remove a mole and has gotten medication for her depression, all free…

And yet.

“I don’t love Obamacare,” she said. “There are things in it that scare me and that I don’t agree with.”

For example, she said, she heard from news programs that the Affordable Care Act prohibited lifesaving care for elderly people with cancer.

There is no such provision, although a proposal to pay doctors to engage patients in end-of-life planning — such as whether they would want life-sustaining treatment if they were terminally ill — was removed from the law after it sparked a political firestorm over “death panels.” The misperception remains widespread: A poll this month by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 41 percent of Americans still believe the law created “a government panel to make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare.” An equal number found the law did not.

“If we have Obamacare and the insurance is available to me, I will use it and be thankful for it,” Ms. Mayhew said. “But would I gladly give up my insurance today if it meant that some of the things that are in the law were not in place? Yes, I would.”

What news programs might she be listening to? Paul Waldman notes we should reserve our anger for the purveyors of lies (boldface mine):

Ms. Mayhew is obviously a good-hearted person. In fact, she’s so considerate of others that she’d give up the insurance that has been life-changing for her, if it meant she could save others from the horrifying things that she has heard Obamacare does, like denying cancer treatments to the elderly. It’s not her fault that what she has heard are outright lies — how is she supposed to know that? She got it from “news programs,” supposedly authoritative sources, which might mean a talk radio show or maybe a certain television network….

Did Republicans care about the fact that before the ACA, there were more than 50 million Americans without health coverage? They certainly never tried to do anything about it. Are they actually disappointed that so many people believe falsehoods about the ACA? Give me a break — they couldn’t be happier, because it makes their political task that much easier.

Every voter who thinks there are death panels, or that Obamacare means elderly people aren’t allowed to get cancer treatments, or that Obamacare made their insurer use a more limited provider network (a business decision made by a private company to cut costs, which I’ve had people tell me they thought was required by the law) is someone who’ll nod their head at the next Republican candidate who tells them that Obamacare is a horror show.

At the same time, Republicans know that if they actually took Amanda Mayhew’s insurance from her, she probably would turn against them, as would others who heard her story. There’s a level of obvious cruelty and real-world consequence that no amount of propagandizing could overcome.

Waldman does gloss over one critical thing: the role of news media. The problem isn’t just Fox propaganda. That 41 percent of Americans believe the ACA created ‘death panels’ can’t solely be laid at the feet of the Mighty Conservative Wurlitzer. There was (and still is) so much inaccurate and he-said/she-said reporting that does nothing to inform and often misinforms. As long as there is no accountability for political actions–both good and bad–Republicans will be able to use anger over this to whip up opposition to other Democratic initiatives.

And good people will believe very foolish, hurtful things.

This entry was posted in Basic Human Decency, Conservatives, Healthcare, Propaganda. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Consequences of Conservative Lies–And News Media’s Failure to Confront Them

  1. Netizen says:

    Well, Chuck Todd says it’s not the media’s job to correct these lies, so I guess that’s that! Nothing to see here, folks. No really, *nothing* to see here….

  2. starskeptic says:

    If the Republicans took away her insurance – guaranteed she would blame the Democrats.

Comments are closed.