Patterico's Pontifications


A Case Study in Media Bias on Obamacare

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:41 pm

Jennifer Haberkorn has a piece at POLITICO that, as far as I can tell, is billed as a news piece by the site’s “senior health care reporter for POLITICO Pro.” However, with its loaded language, its built-in assumption that Obamacare is a good law, and its open hostility towards Republicans, it could have been written by any flack at the DNC.

I thought it might be a useful exercise in identifying media bias to take this piece apart and examine its loaded language. I’ll note at least some of that language in bold below.

GOP rebuffs Obama’s entreaties to fix health law

President Barack Obama on Thursday called for Republicans next year to pass legislation to repair Obamacare. The GOP response? No.

Democrats have long held out hope that with a new president, the political winds would shift, creating an opening to pass badly needed legislative repairs.

But Republicans have been bashing Obamacare for more than six years and there is no sign that they’re going to break that habit — let alone vote for legislative repairs. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that the law “can’t be fixed.”

Already, we are told that the legislation is “badly needed” to “repair” a law that “Republicans have been bashing.” The idea that Obamacare was a bad idea to begin with, and that the only “repair” is outright repeal, is apparently a view so out of the question, it does not even occur to this reporter that anyone could believe it.

And yet, the problems with Obamacare are legion, and familiar to most on the right. Indeed, the law’s deficiencies are outlined in the earlier chapters of an excellent book called The Primal Prescription, by Robert P. Murphy and Doug McGuff. If an entire book is too much, the problems with the law that were predicted by free market economists are outlined by Murphy in this 2013 article, and include spikes in premiums, people losing their plans, and job losses:

We are now seeing many of the undesirable effects of the ACA. These are typically being described as “unintended.” However, this adjective is a bit of a misnomer, since these outcomes were entirely predictable, and in fact were predicted by many free-market economists in the debate leading up to the passage of the ACA. Cynics can justifiably speculate that at least some of the proponents of the ACA knew full well the outcome would be untenable, leading the public to embrace even more federal intervention in health care down the road.

The most obvious result is a large spike in premiums for many people, once the mandates on health coverage are fully phased in.

. . . .

Another predictable outcome is that many Americans will not be able to keep their previous plan. Millions of Americans who bought insurance in the individual market (i.e., not via their employer) will find that their plan doesn’t meet the standards of ObamaCare.

. . . .

Besides rate hikes (and ultimately, government rationing of medical care), another major downside of the ACA is the job losses it will cause.

The only solution for all this is not “badly needed repairs” but full repeal. As soon as possible. But the clueless Haberkorn plows on nonetheless:

Republicans are almost gleeful when talking about all of Obamacare’s problems: Many insurers have left the exchanges, premiums in some parts of the country are going up dramatically, and most of the co-ops have failed.

All as predicted. And yet we are sourly informed that “Republicans are almost gleeful” — and isn’t that just appalling, Jeeves, given that we have such a wonderful law that has done such great things?

The political problem for Republicans, though, is that the law has dramatically reduced the number of uninsured — from 16 percent in 2010 to 9.1 percent last year. Real Americans are getting health insurance for the first time because of Obamacare.

“The Affordable Care Act has done what it was designed to do,” Obama said Thursday.

The phrase “real Americans are getting health insurance for the first time because of Obamacare” is phrasing that any DNC flack would love to have penned herself. Again, though, this is billed as a news piece by a news reporter.

Of course, real Americans are also losing their jobs, losing their health care plans, and losing their money as premiums skyrocket — while Obamacare’s “benefits” primarily result from an expansion of Medicaid, which has notoriously been ineffective at improving health outcomes — and is often worse than no coverage at all.

In summary: how dare Republicans not repair a terrible law that is causing unemployment, skyrocketing premiums, and little to nothing to actually help people stay healthy.

Those damned Republicans.

P.S. I am breaking my usual rule about linking POLITICO in this post, because the cached link does not contain all the language I wanted to quote, and I’m willing to provide a link to the full piece for the purpose of showing its bias.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

18 Responses to “A Case Study in Media Bias on Obamacare”

  1. Dingaling.

    Patterico (bcf524)

  2. there’s a reason for that,

    recall they paid a lot of pelf through various foundations for this kind of coverage,

    narciso (d1f714)

  3. Yes, the framing device of a story on Democrat problems is never “Democrats Involved in Scandal” but always “GOP Uses Scandal to Attack Democrats.”

    It’s a slight but profound shift in emphasis.

    Patricia (5fc097)

  4. it’s like that planet x that is tilting the sun, allegedly,

    narciso (d1f714)

  5. remember as morgen pointed out on his own site, seven years ago, the goal was always single payer,

    narciso (d1f714)

  6. Obamacare is so good that it requires immediate repairs to fix its awful problems.

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  7. Let’s play find Bill Clinton…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  8. Obama wants it fixed? He should clean up after himself.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  9. That beats the hell out of Find Elmo, Colonel.

    Rev. Hoagie® (785e38)

  10. Barack passed an unconstitutional health care law without a single Republican vote on account of the fact that all Republicans said it was awful, and now that Barack sees that it’s awful, he says Republicans have to fix it or else it becomes all their fault for not fixing it.

    hey, let’s ignore that it’s literally called Obamacare — not Republicancare.

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  11. I thought so, Hoagie!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  12. now we call its dreadpiraterobertscare, but you see how they summon the squirrels,

    narciso (d1f714)

  13. I’ve said it before: we have two, and only two, choices:

    1 – Either the government will be responsible for seeing to it that everyone has access to health care, in which case all we are discussing is how best to provide that; or
    2 – The government will not be responsible for providing access to health care, the consequence of which being that those who have no insurance and cannot afford it will go without, even if that means that they suffer or die due to the lack.

    I vote for the second option, clearly recognizing the consequences. But most Republicans don’t, promising instead “repeal and replacement” of Obysmalcare with something else, something which will guarantee everyone access to health care.

    If you want to repeal Obaminablecare, you have to be intellectually honest enough to decide which of the two choices you support.

    The cold-hearted Dana (f6a568)

  14. If you want to repeal Obaminablecare, you have to be intellectually honest enough,and morally secure enough, to decide which of the two choices you support.

    With one choice you establish even further the right of a government to use force against its own free people to accomplish the goals of a few, some, many or most of them regardless of the will of the others. With the other choice individual charity will need to pick up the slack and should that fail some people will suffer and perhaps die but all the people will remain free and the government will not get yet one more arrow for its quiver of force and coercion to use against the people.

    Imagine the power to withhold medical treatment put in the hands of the politically correct college student and think who would be denied. Imagine those same brain washed college students are now adults and they are the ones making the decisions. You won’t have to wait long, November is just a couple weeks.

    Rev. Hoagie® (785e38)

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