Last Thursday, NBC’s Nighly News opened with a two-part story on the “Obama Bi-Partisan Health Care Summit” held at Blair House in Washington D.C.. The opening segment talked about “strategy”, and how “the Democrats objective seemed to be to appear reasonable”, while the Republican strategy was “to distance themselves from the Democrats bill”. Various clips were played of the exchanges between the two Parties and how far apart they appeared to be at times, all the while Democrats keep repeating “how close” we really are in agreement on so many issues. Nothing major there.
The second segment was a travesty unto itself. All about the cost of health care reform, the second report then incorrectly reported… in both pictures and words… “the cost of President Obama’s proposed health care reform package” as $900 TRILLION dollars over ten years instead of $900 Billion dollars over ten years… off by a mere 1000x (or 100,000%):
Now, I know that it was probably “an honest mistake”, when people are tossing around the “T”-word like it was just another big-government expenditure. But when you are doing a report on the COST of health care, and you’re playing clips of Republicans claiming “we just can’t afford this”, getting something like that THAT wrong is simply inexcusable. Opponents are already screaming bloody murder over the supposed cost of the HCR bill, and when a major news organization misreports a figure like that, it only adds fuel to the fire. They did not correct the mistake on-air during the program, nor did they correct it on the next nights newscast. One person told me they they did correct the number in the online video version (but as some have pointed out, you can’t unring a bell, and how many people will see the online version, let alone watch the same report a second time online to discover the error?), but the online report replaced the old error with a completely new… and far less excusable… one, now reporting the size of the presidents’ reform package as “$1 Trillion dollars over ten years“… now off by a factor of only 10% (or $100 BILLION dollars). Accidentally saying “Trillion” instead of “Billion” might be an honest “spelling” mistake, but ADDING $100 BILLION dollars to the CBO’s OFFICIALLY stated cost of reform with NO basis borders on DELIBERATE misinformation. (Were they thinking simply wiping two zeros from their report rather than change the “T” to a “B” makes them look less incompetent?)
During that same report, they play a clip of Senator John Boehner (R-Coppertone) claiming that the HCR bill “as it now stands” would “provide federal funding of abortion for the first time in history”. Now unless something has changed since President Obama said this before a joint session of Congress last September:
“…under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”
…Boehner is talking out of an orifice slightly lower than his belt-line. And naturally, NBC said absolutely nothing to contradict or even challenge his assertion. They simply let it go as fact.
It is difficult enough for Democrats to fight the constant barrage of misinformation being pushed by the Republican Party and their corporate overlords, let alone having a lazy (or even deliberately stilted) mainstream media giant like NBC spreading GLARING errors and allowing seriously questionable claims to go unchallenged.
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