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At least 15 Fox News personalities recently campaigned with organizations that were either created or heavily-funded by the billionaire Koch brothers.

No wonder these same Fox figures defended and praised the Kochs on-air. 

As the latest wave of Benghazi Fever grips the willing Republican Party, and as the far-right media apparatus stokes the fervor, it’s impossible to ignore the similarities between the all-scandal strategy that’s being adopted by critics of Barack Obama, and the  same all-scandal wedge that was used, unsuccessfully, against Bill Clinton, the previous two-term Democratic president.

The Benghazi blueprint matches up right down to the fact that there’s no there there, in terms of a criminal White House cover up.  It “doesn’t add up to much of a scandal,” wrote Michael Hirsh at Politico this week, reviewing the facts of Benghazi to date. “But it’s already too late for the truth. Benghazi has taken on a cultural life of its own on the right.” He added, “Benghazi has become to the 2010s what Vince Foster” was in the 1990s.

Foster was the then-deputy White House counsel who committed suicide in Northern Virginia’s Fort Marcy Park on July 20, 1993, not far from Washington, D.C. His suicide, which sparked controversy when the so-called Clinton Crazies accused the president and his wife of being part of a plot to murder their friend (he knew too much!), quickly become shorthand for the type of despicable claims that were so casually lobbed in the 1990s.

Looking ahead to Hillary Clinton’s possible 2016 presidential run, Hirsh wrote that the “Benghazi-Industrial Complex is going to be as toxic as anything Hillary has faced since … Vince Foster.”

The analogy is a strong and a factual one. But in trying to understand what’s happening today with the ceaseless, two-year Benghazi propaganda campaign, a blitz that’s utterly lacking in factual support, it’s important to understand how the media game has changed between the Vince Foster era and today. Specifically, it’s important to understand what’s different and more dangerous about the elaborate and irresponsible gotcha games that Republicans now play in concert with the right-wing media. (Hint: The games today get way more coverage.)

Here’s what’s key: Twenty years ago the far-right Foster tale was told mostly from the fringes. Word was spread via emerging online bulletin boards, snail mail pamphlets, faxed newslettersself-published exposes, and VCR tapes, like The Clinton Chronicles, which portrayed the president as a one-man crime syndicate involved in drug-running, prostitution, murder, adultery, money laundering, and obstruction of justice, just to name a few.

At the top of the Foster-feeding pyramid stood the New York Post, Rush Limbaugh’s radio show (“Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton”), and Robert Bartley’s team of writers at the Wall Street Journal editorial page, who spent eight years lost in a dense, Clinton-thick fog.

Notice the hole in that `90s media menu? Television. Specifically, 24-hour television.

Now, fast-forward to the never-ending Benghazi feast of outrage. Today, that far-right tale is amplified via every single conservative media outlet in existence, and is powered by the most-watched 24-hour cable news channel in America. A news channel that long ago threw away any semblance of accountability.

So yes, Fox News is what’s changed between 1994 and 2014, and Fox News is what has elevated Benghazi from a fringe-type “scandal” into the pressing issue adopted by the Republican Party today. (“Benghazi” has been mentioned approximately 1,000 times on Fox since May 1, according to

Remember, Rupert Murdoch’s all-news channel didn’t debut in America until October 1996 when it launched with just 17 million subscribers. (Today it boasts 90 millions subs.) And for the first few years it generally delivered a conservative slant on the news. It didn’t function as a hothouse of fabrications the way it does today.

Now, Fox acts as a crucial bridge between the radical and the everyday. Fox gives a voice and a national platform to the same type of deranged, hard-core haters who hounded the new, young Democratic president in the early 1990s. Fox embraces and helps legitimize the kind of conspiratorial talk that flourished back then but mostly on the sidelines. The Murdoch channel has moved derangement into the mainstream of Republican politics.

By making the Foster comparison, I’m not downplaying how Republicans and the president’s dedicated detractors irresponsibly flogged the Foster story for years. It stood as one of the most rancid examples of the politics of personal destruction that defined the Clinton era. (The Foster family begged, to no avail, for an end to the use of “outrageous innuendo and speculation for political ends.”)

But given how vast the right-wing noise machine apparatus has expanded since the 1990s, I’m suggesting that if that same type of event unfolded under the current Democratic president and if Fox News decided to hype the story, regardless of facts, for ten, twenty, or thirty months, the scandal wouldn’t be treated as a fleeting affair. In other words, if Vince Foster truly were the ’90s equivalent of Benghazi, it would have received mountains of more media attention, from all corners.

Fact: During Clinton’s eight years in office, the New York Times published less than 30 news articles and columns that mentioned Foster at least three times, according to Nexis. By comparison, since the terror attack in Libya 20 months ago, the Times has published more than 250 hundred articles and columns that mentioned “Benghazi” three or more times.

That’s what happens when you add the mighty medium of television into the all-scandal mix. That kind of drumbeat of televised phony outrage forces and/or encourage Republican politicians to respond, as well as the mainstream media.

Meanwhile, how do we know Fox would’ve gone all in on the dark Foster story? Because in the mid-`90s Fox chief Roger Ailes, then programming CNBC, told Don Imus that Foster’s death could have been a murder. At the time, Ailes didn’t have the influence or the independence to unleash NBC-owned financial news channel on a reckless Vince Foster witch-hunt. But he certainly would have if he’d been running today’s hyper-partisan, hyper-irresponsible version of Fox News.

Also, even years after the ugly Foster smear campaign faded, Fox talkers like Sean Hannity push the lies:

After suggesting Vince Foster was murdered, Hannity praised caller who accused Clinton of multiple rapes

Discussing Foster, Hannity asked: “Did a close friend of Hillary Clinton commit suicide, or was it a massive coverup?”

Hannity asserted that “Whitewater and the death of Vince Foster” are “chapters remaining open” for Sen. Clinton

In 2007, Fox News host Sean Hannity hosted a special episode on the “mysterious death” of Foster, hinting that the Clintons might have pulled off “a massive cover-up.”

So yes, I’m pretty sure today’s Fox News would have eagerly endorsed the sordid Foster affair, relentlessly demanding that “unanswered questions” be addressed and that sweeping investigations be launched. That in turn, would have forced Republicans into action, which would have sparked endless mainstream news coverage.

That’s what happens when televised propaganda is added to the media scandal mix; the megaphone’s much bigger, much louder, and in many ways much more dangerous.

H/T: Eric Boehlert at MMFA

Fox’s newest show, Outnumbered, features a rotating cast of four female hosts, one male host, and a litany of sexist tropes.

The program premiered April 28 with female co-hosts Jedediah Bila, Harris Faulkner, Sandra Smith, Kimberly Guilfoyle and their male co-host of the day Tucker Carlson, who was honored with the Twitter hashtag #ONELUCKYGUY and described by the women as “a good enough sport to join us on day one.”

When Fox announced the new show, Amanda Marcotte noted its premise: ”The man will be ‘outnumbered,’ meaning that even though Outnumbered is supposedly a female-centric show, the male point of view is still so central that it gives the show its title.” The Washington Post's Alyssa Rosenberg similarly predicted that the program would find its “heat” by highlighting opposition between men and women, essentially parodying “what conservatives often accuse feminists of wanting to do to men: overwhelm them and shout them down as a sort of rhetorical reparations for years in a subordinate position.”

These predictions proved accurate. In fact, Outnumbered's set even placed the lone man at the center, surrounded on a couch by the female hosts wearing Fox's famous short skirts. The hosts kicked off the show by indulging the parody that men and women are profoundly opposed to each other, with Carlson joking at the very beginning that he was “in a defensive crouch already,” because living with four women had given him experience he needed to ”submit” and handle this “outnumbered” position:

The debut episode’s first potential “feminist” altercation focused on how a woman’s appearance might affect a presidential run, with the hosts contemplating a hypothetical Democratic primary between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). While Guilfoyle quipped that, when it comes to looks, “I think if it’s between Hillary and Elizabeth Warren, it’s even,” Carlson argued that “it works both ways. I don’t think anyone would be standing with Wendy Davis in Texas if she, you know, weren’t a handsome woman … you don’t see a lot of bald guys running for president.”

Studies have shown discussion of appearance does negatively hurt female candidates — one study found that any mention of female politicians’ appearance, even discussion that was coded as a “compliment,” lost the candidate votes. But instead of pointing this out,  the female co-hosts quibbled with Carlson’s description of a woman as “handsome,” asking if he meant “pretty.”

Later, while discussing a female teacher recently accused of giving an under-age male high school student a lap-dance, Carlson insisted that not only was the student not a “victim,” because “this is the dream of 15-year-old boys,” but he also invented a new double standard for victims, claiming that a female student who received a lap dance from a male teacher would be a victim because “girls react differently to this kind of thing, it’s just reality.” Facing his co-hosts’ understandable outrage, Carlson said “lighten up, America, come on,” and suggested that the teacher facing charges is “obviously a very enthusiastic teacher.”

While the women of Outnumbered sometimes pushed back on Carlson’s sexist stances, they also pushed plenty of tired sexist tropes right along with him. 

For instance, Guilfoyle previewed a discussion of McDonald’s toys (a recent study revealed McDonald’s employees refused to give girls the so-called “boy” toy) by claiming “girls like pretty ponies, and boys like toy trucks.” Bila threw in that she was “odd”  as a child and did not play with Barbies, even though she is “obviously” a female. Though Faulkner noted that she tries to get her two daughters a variety of toys, she concluded: “You want to rule the world, little girls, you’ve got to know what the guys like.”

Fox is notorious for its incredible sexism — Fox News CEO Roger Ailes even allegedly once offered to increase a female producer’s salary in exchange for sex, and became livid after a female host appeared on air wearing pants. The women of Outnumbered seem prepared to fall in step. In addition to the hosts featured today, future hosts include Andrea Tantaros and Katie Pavlich, both of whom have come under fire for slut-shaming and launching sexist attacks on women.

The announcement for the show claimed that the ensemble of four female panelists and one male would allow them to “tackle top new headlines from all angles and perspectives.” Rather than presenting “all angles and perspectives,” Outnumbered sticks to Fox’s favorite tried and true angle — favoring male perspective while capitalizing on female conflicts.

h/t: Olivia Kittel at MMFA


Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich is busy running for reelection, but that hasn’t stopped his former Fox News colleagues from promoting him as a possible 2016 presidential candidate. Fox News has praised Kasich’s tenure as governor, and touted him as “a serious potential candidate for president” with a record that gives progressives “reason to fear.”

Kasich is the quintessential Fox News candidate, having used a perch at the network to profitably stay in the public eye between runs for public office. He joined Fox in 2001 after serving nine terms in Congress and left in 2009 to run for Ohio governor. He was a frequent presence on the network as a guest host for The O’Reilly Factor, and the host of the programs From The Heartland and Heroes.

Fox News treated Kasich to numerous softball interviews during his successful 2010 run. Sean Hannity told Kasich during one such interview: “You do me a favor. Go get elected governor” and “You can help us. Win the state of Ohio.” During an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, Kasich asked for donations while Fox News put his website address on-screen (which drew a complaint from the Democratic Governors Association).

Kasich’s gubernatorial campaign also received fundraising support from Fox News. Sean Hannity headlined a "high-dollar fund-raiser" for Kasich in October 2009. Mike Huckabee appeared at a 2009 Kasich campaign event. Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch and his then-wife contributed $20,000 to the campaign, and then-Fox News parent company News Corporation gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which helped elect Kasich.

Kasich has claimed he’s not interested in running for president in 2016, telling an Ohio reporter that he “tried to run for president back at the end of the ’90s and 2000 and no one was interested … Now, I’m not interested.” In his gubernatorial campaign, Kasich will likely face Democrat Ed FitzGerald, who has unsuccessfully askedKasich to sign a pledge promising to serve a full term if reelected.

A 2016 Kasich campaign has been a popular topic of conversation for Fox News. While the network frequently applauds Ohio’s economic performance during Kasich’s tenure, the state’s "rate of job growth was below the national average." 

Fox News Sunday Anchor Chris Wallace: Kasich A “Serious Potential Candidate For President.”During his March 23 show, Wallace previewed Kasich’s segment by stating, “as the 2016 race for the White House heats up, one potential GOP candidate is counting his states’ economic turnaround.” Wallace later introduced Kasich by focusing on his presidential prospects:

WALLACE: With two years until the 2016 presidential election, there’s a lot of talk the strongest GOP nominee would be a governor from the Midwest. One possibility from the key electoral state of Ohio is making his state’s economic turnaround the basis for his re- election bid in November. Joining us now from Columbus, Ohio, Governor John Kasich and, governor, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.

Wallace’s first question to Kasich was about his tenure as Ohio governor, asking: “What is the secret to your success?” Wallace later asked Kasich about criticism from FitzGerald, including about whether he would pledge to serve his entire term (Kasich dodged the question).

While previewing his show on the March 20 broadcast of Fox News Radio’s Kilmeade & Friends, Wallace said Kasich has led a “big turnaround in the economy of Ohio” and he “really is a serious potential candidate for president in 2016 even though at this point he’s saying, ‘not interested.’”’s promotion of Kasich’s interview focused on Kasich and 2016:

Fox News Sunday exclusive

Fox VP Cavuto: George Soros “Has Reason To Fear You” In 2016. Fox News host and vice president Neil Cavuto told Kasich on the March 18 edition of Your World that he’s heard “reports” that financier (and Media Matters donor) George Soros “fears you the most of any prospective candidate.” Cavuto then listed Kasich’s “success” as governor, and said Soros “has reason to fear you.” At the end of the interview, Kasich told Cavuto, “you’re the best.” Op-Ed: “Why Progressive, George Soros Crowd Fears Run By Ohio Governor.” Republican strategist and lobbyist Van Hipp wrote a March 7 piece touting Kasich’s tenure as governor as a “shining example” of “why the free enterprise system works.” Hipp added: “The more I thought about it, the more I realized why the George Soros crowd fears Kasich the most. They can’t demonize him and use the same old worn out liberal playbook they’ve used against national GOP contenders in recent years.”

Fox News Contributors Tout Kasich As Contender. Kasich has been mentioned by Fox News personalities during discussions about 2016 presidential candidates. Sean Hannity said on January 21 that he wants a president big field with Kasich, among others. Contributor George Will said on February 16’s Fox News Sunday that the race will be decided in the Midwest and said “you have to get three more presidential candidates out of those states — Governors Kasich in Ohio, Snyder in Michigan and Walker in Wisconsin.” And contributor Karl Rove also mentioned Kasich as a potential candidate on the January 13 edition of The O’Reilly Factor.

h/t: Eric Hananoki at MMFA



A Fox News host compared the search for a missing airliner to the conservative network’s never-ending examination of the Benghazi massacre.

After showing reactions by family members of passengers aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 on Thursday evening’s “The Five,” host Kimberly Guilfoyle imagined what they must be going through.

“Imagine if you’re one of those family members and you know that another country has the means, has the ability, has the economic wherewithal to actually get this investigation going in the right direction,” she said, “where you can get some answers for these poor people, how frustrating. It’s like having a cure for a disease and you just can’t reach out and take it.”

Co-host Andrea Tantaros agreed.

“Watching the footage, and watching the footage of that Malaysian woman that was being played over and over last night, it’s just so sad,” Tantaros said. “But think how long it took for them to get this kind of media attention. Living in Malaysia, the government seemingly ignored these people, they didn’t want their stories to get out, they weren’t talking to them.”

She warned co-host Bob Beckel, the show’s Democratic foil, to plug his ears with his fingers.

“They were saying, ‘No one has come to my house, no one has told me what has happened,” Tantaros said. “Bob, get ready, put these in your ears. Feels like the families of Benghazi, just saying. And we’re better than that.”

Watch this video clip of the exchange posted online by OnlyPlaceForNews:

Fox News host Mike Huckabee denied responsibility for shady email pitches sent to subscribers to his email list, telling Media Matters that he is “simply a conduit to send messages” and “can’t always vouch for the veracity” of the promoted products.

Huckabee is part of the conservative movement’s attempts to cash in on their followers by renting out their email lists to suspect sources. Fox News contributor Scott Brown was recently forced to disown a quack doctor after he sent a sponsored email touting the doctor’s dubious Alzheimer’s disease cures. Huckabee also sent emails promoting the doctor.

During a press conference held at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) outside Washington, Media Matters asked Huckabee about shady sponsored emails he’s sent with his name on it, such as the Alzheimer’s disease emails. 

Huckabee shrugged off responsibility for the emails, saying “You are supposed to read the disclosure and the disclaimer that is a part of the messages. We are simply the conduit to send messages, these are sponsored and I can’t always vouch for the veracity.”

Huckabee’s sketchy sponsored emails extend beyond questionable medical cures. He recently sent a sponsored email touting the stock recommendation of a financial analyst who was fired from Fox News for ethical violations.

Huckabee sent an email on February 14 from “Fox News alumnus” Tobin Smith and “our paid sponsor, Champlain Media” about “important information” regarding the stock of Gray Fox Petroleum (GFOX).Huckabee’s message added that the sponsorship does “not necessarily reflect my views.” A Smith-penned message implored readers to “Buy shares of GFOX now while you can still get them at around $1.00 and you could… TURN $10,000 INTO $282,000 in the next 6 months!”

Tobin Smith is so disreputable that he was fired from Fox News — no small feat — for receiving compensation to promote a company stock, a violation of network policy. Smith engages in “sponsored research,” in which companies hire analysts like Smith to act as pitchmen. MarketWatch’s Chuck Jaffee noted that people like Smith take “money to help small stocks find a market using fluff-and-shine hyperbolic chatter” and target “novice investors who fail to do due diligence.”

Small print in the Huckabee email states that the email is part of a “paid advertising” campaign “by Tobin Smith” and “Cenad Ltd. has paid $155,040.88 for the dissemination of this info to enhance public awareness for GFOX.” It also adds that Smith “has received twenty thousand dollars for this and related marketing materials.” It is not clear how much Huckabee received for the email dissemination, though a card states that his list has 700,000 subscribers and charges $27.50 per thousand emails, with a “300,000 NAME MINIMUM ORDER $1,000.00 MINIMUM PAYMENT.”

While it is too early to know how GFOX will perform, Huckabee fans should be cautious about taking the advice. In addition to the investing dangers of sponsored research, a Media Matters review last year found that Smith regularly pitched lofty stock price targets which weren’t met. For instance, Smith recommended in January 2013 that readers buy the stock of Boldface Group “at less than 50-cents, and you could … Turn $10,000 into $50,000 in the next 6-12 months!” It’s now trading at one cent.

Fox News helps grow Huckabee’s email list, as the former Republican governor regularly promotes on his weekly program. When visitors reach the page, they’re immediately asked to sign-up for his list. In other words, Huckabee is growing his email list through Fox News, and then selling access to that list so hucksters like Tobin Smith can target his Fox fans.

As Salon’s Alex Pareene noted, “the conservative movement is an elaborate moneymaking venture. For professional movement conservatives, their audiences and followers are easy marks.” 

H/T: Eric Hanaoki and Joe Strupp at MMFA

Fox News is now suggesting that minor contradictions in Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ life story constitute a more important political “scandal” than accusations of corruption and political retribution by NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s administration.

On the January 23 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now, co-host Jon Scott accused “op-eds and pundits [for] tearing into [Christie’s] character,” while ignoring the “political scandal in Texas.” This scandal, according to Scott, was that Davis’ life story had “holes” in it, partly because she didn’t pull “herself up by her stilettos” and instead relied on some financial help from her second husband in order to attend law school:

Scott: The interesting thing about Wendy Davis is this story that has propelled her to state-wide stardom, maybe even national stardom. She says she was married at 19, teenage mother, divorced, lived in a trailer, made it through Texas Christian University and Harvard Law School, and now she is where she is today, a state senator and maybe the next governor of Texas. The problem is, there are some holes in that story.


The suggestion that she pulled herself up by her stilettos and made it through Harvard Law School doesn’t exactly jive with the fact that her husband, her then-husband, paid for it all, then as soon as it’s all paid for, she left him, and he got custody of the two girls.

Michael Barone, a Fox News contributor, argued during the segment and in a Washington Examiner piece that Christie’s record as governor of New Jersey was being scrutinized by media “because he might be a successful presidential candidate,” and that Davis should come under similar media scrutiny for these details of her life because her run for governor could potentially “turn Texas blue,” a move which would have national significance.

But the reason to scrutinize Christie’s record is not that he might run for president. It’s that he has been accused of corruption and petty political retribution in his position as the current governor of New Jersey. At no point during the segment did either Scott or Barone delve into the details of “Chris Christie’s problems,” but they are far more than minor contradictions in a timeline of life events.

Christie has admitted that his administration caused a massive traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge, in what is alleged to have been political payback against a local mayor. Though the governor claimed he was unaware of his staff’s actions, and later removed two top aides, his administration was subsequently accused by a different mayor of holding Hurricane Sandy relief funds hostage for political reasons.

There are at least three separate legal investigations examining the accusations launched against the Christie administration.

In contrast, Davis is not currently under investigation for possibly abusing the power of her office as state senator. There are some small, legitimate questions about her presentation of her life story, but those questions have been blown out of proportion by conservative media, who have launched an absurd and often sexist campaign against her. Right-wing radio hosts and Fox contributors have implied she is an unstable and unreliable mother, unfit for public office, and have attacked her for defying gender norms by leaving her spouse to pursue her career (a move many male politicians have made, with little media fanfare).

Scott’s sexist joke about Davis’ stilettos is just the latest example of these demeaning attacks, and furthers the network’s desperate attempt to bury the Christie scandal by deflecting attention to unrelated stories.

Fox has previously attempted to compare Christie’s scandal to the September 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and to the IRS scandal, in which bureaucrats largely based in Cincinnati allegedly devoted inappropriate scrutiny to conservative groups. The network also devoted less than 15 minutes of coverage to Christie on the day the scandal broke, and mentioned the revelations about Hurricane relief only once the day they emerged.

From the 01.23.2014 edition of FNC’s Happening Now:

h/t: MMFA

imageFox Panel Continues Push to Privatize the Post Office (via

By Heather December 15, 2013 4:30 am It’s deja vu all over again on Fox “news” where trashing unions and pushing to privatize anything and everything are some of their favorite pastimes. The more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s been…


(via GOPTV Politicizes The Kennedy Assassination: “JFK Was A Conservative Murdered By A Liberal” - NewsHounds)

Fox News has found a way to honor the upcoming 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination and still stay true to its core Republican-promoting, liberal-demonizing agenda: Spin Democrat JFK as a conservative and paint Lee Harvey Oswald as a “silly, squalid little communist.” As we all know, on Fox, “communist” is synonymous with “liberal.”

The spin started in an interview with JFK’s niece Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (Bobby Kennedy’s daughter) and JFK’s nephew, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of Ted Kennedy. Much of the interview was devoted to, as called the segment, “Memories of ‘Uncle Jack.’”

But then, at about 7 minutes into the nearly 11-minute interview, Wallace began to try to co-opt Kennedy’s legacy for Fox News. As David, at Crooks and Liars’ Video Café pointed out, Wallace began by suggesting Democrat Kennedy was “quite conservative. From the Fox News transcript (edited for accuracy, punctuation and grammar):

WALLACE: Let’s talk about President Kennedy’s legacy half a century later. There is a growing body of thought that, in fact, that President Kennedy was quite conservative in some of his policies. He was a fierce Cold Warrior, he believed that tax cuts spurred the economy. Kathleen.

Both Kennedy family members politely pushed back. Kennedy Townsend noted that her uncle lowered the tax rate from 90 to 70 percent, which is far higher than the 22 percent rate now. She also said that JFK resisted generals who had wanted to go to war during the Bay of Pigs incident.

Patrick Kennedy pushed back more explicitly, especially with regard to Wallace’s subsequent suggestion that the “very troubled – I think some people would say ‘disastrous’ rollout of OBamaCare …raises doubts about big government solutions.”

PATRICK KENNEDY: Well, I think President Kennedy was so universally beloved because his message was such idealism. It was setting the goals. Obviously, in our own lives and the life of our government we’re not always that efficient in achieving the goals we set for ourselves. But the goal is right. The goal is to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated from the vantage point that you don’t want to be discriminated against because of preexisting condition in health care.

In the very next segment, the panel discussion, Wallace continued promoting Kennedy’s supposed conservatism. Wallace’s first question to the panel went to George Will, Will didn’t just affirm the “JFK was conservative” meme, he took it a step further to suggest that Kennedy was killed BECAUSE he was too conservative.

WALLACE: And we’re back now with the panel. George, your thoughts about John F. Kennedy’s legacy and this growing notion that he, in fact, espoused a lot of conservative values.

WILL: Well, he was a conventional liberal before liberalism changed in the late 1960s. He was a Cold Warrior in the tradition of Harry Truman, and domestically, he hired as his Treasury Secretary C. Douglas Dillon, a Republican from Wall Street, he did indeed believe in supply side tax cuts, increased revenues from lower rates.

Chris, more people, substantially more people visit the fifth floor museum in the Texas Book Depository as it then was, than visit the Kennedy library. Which suggests to me that his hold on the nation’s imagination has more to do with the way he died than the way he lived. In fact, his record was rather thin.

And what his death did, was it gave rise to a narrative that America was somehow deeply flawed because of this. …Now, the narrative that immediately emerged, was a streak of violence, particularly on the right, killed Kennedy. We happen to know he was killed by a silly, squalid, little communist.

I’m surprised nobody found a way to blame President Obama or Hillary Clinton for it. But maybe that’s coming.



Right-wing media have consistently hyped several myths about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during the lead up to open enrollment for state-based exchanges. As media outlets report on implementation of the health care law, they should be aware of these false claims, including zombie myths that the law includes “death panels” and that Congress is “exempt” from the law.

Myth #1: Congress Is “Exempt” From The Affordable Care Act

Myth #2: Premium Prices Will Increase Due To Health Care Law

Myth #3: The Affordable Care Act Includes Death Panels

Myth #4: Shutting Down Government Over Obamacare Funding Will Stop Health Care Law

Myth #5: The Affordable Care Act Is “Socialized Medicine” And A “Government Takeover” Of Health Care

Myth #6: People Will Be Able To Commit Subsidy Fraud On The Exchanges

Myth #7: Obamacare ”Narrow Networks” Will Constrain Health Choices

Myth #8: The Affordable Care Act Is Bad For Women

Myth #9: The Affordable Care Act Covers Abortions

Myth #10: The Affordable Care Act Is A Job Killer

Myth #11: With Full Access To Medical Records, The IRS Will Discriminate Against Conservatives 

Myth #12: Navigators Will Abuse Private Information

Myth #13: Obamacare Mandates Doctors To Ask Patients About Sexual History 

Myth #14: The ACA’s Medicaid Expansion Will Force Doctors To Turn Away Patients 

Myth #15: The ACA Is To Blame For A Projected 30 Million People Who Will Remain Uninsured

Myth #1: Congress Is “Exempt” From The Affordable Care Act

Fox’s Elisabeth Hasselbeck: Obama Administration “Has Decided That Congress And Their Staff Will Receive Extra Benefits That No Other American Gets.” Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck claimed that congressional members and staff got an “exemption” from the Affordable Care Act because of an Office of Personnel Management decision:

HASSELBECK: The president’s health care law [is] supposed to apply to everybody, but now President Obama’s Office of Personnel Management has decided that Congress and their staff will receive extra benefits that no other American gets. How fair is that? [Fox News, Fox & Friends9/19/13, via Media Matters]

CNS News: Congress And Staff Members Will Get “Special Taxpayer Subsidies.” An August 27 article discussed Rep. Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) proposed legislation seeking to block Congress and its staffs from receiving “special taxpayer subsidies”:

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) says it’s not fair that members of Congress and their staffs will get special taxpayer subsidies to help them pay their Obamacare premiums in the new health insurance exchanges.

"I don’t think it’s fair at all," DeSantis told Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren. [CNS News, 8/27/13]

NRO’s John Fund: Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) Is Seeking To “End An Exemption” That Gives Congress “Generous Subsidies” To Pay For Health Insurance. In a September 16 article by John Fund on the National Review Online, Fund highlighted the argument in Congress over “whether Congress should be treated like the rest of the county when it comes to Obamacare.” The article stated further:

Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has demanded a floor vote on his bill to end an exemption that members of Congress and their staffs are slated to get that will make them the only participants in the new Obamacare exchanges to receive generous subsidies from their employer to pay for their health insurance. Angry Senate Democrats have drafted legislation that dredges up a 2007 prostitution scandal involving Vitter. The confrontation is a perfect illustration of just how wide the gulf in attitudes is between the Beltway and the rest of the country — and how viciously Capitol Hill denizens will fight for their privileges.


Democratic and Republican staffers alike were furious, warning that Congress faced a “brain drain” if the provision stuck. Under behind-the-scenes pressure from members of Congress in both parties, President Obama used the quiet of the August recess to personally order the Office of Personnel Management, which supervises federal employment issues, to interpret the law so as to retain the generous congressional benefits. [National Review Online, 9/16/13]

Heritage Foundation: “Washington’s Arrogant Political Class Is Getting Exemptions Or Special Treatment Denied To Ordinary Americans.” According to a September 16 post on the Heritage Foundation’s The Foundry blog, Congress is getting a special subsidy “through questionable administrative action” and is getting “special treatment” not available to the general public:

While Members of Congress and their personal staffs are required to enroll in Obamacare’s exchanges, the White House, through questionable administrative action, is providing them hefty taxpayer subsidies to offset the resultant increase in their personal health care costs. In other words, Washington’s arrogant political class is getting exemptions or special treatment denied to ordinary Americans. [Heritage Foundation, 9/16/13]

FACT: The Obama Administration Is Not Exempting Congress From The Health Care Law “‘Special Subsidy’ … Is Simply A Premium Contribution” The Federal Government Has “Long Made To The Health Insurance Policies Of Its Workers.” A article from August 30 explained that a similar claim made by Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) was “misleading” and that “lawmakers and their staffs face additional requirements that other Americans don’t”:

Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger is misleading his constituents by saying that he will decline the health insurance offered to members of Congress next year because it includes a “special subsidy” from the president that “exempted” Congress from the Affordable Care Act.

Congress isn’t “exempt” from the law. It wasn’t exempt back in 2010, when we first debunked such a claim; nor were lawmakers exempt in May when the bogus bit surfaced again. Three months later, they’re still not exempt. In fact, as we’ve said before, lawmakers and their staffs face additional requirements that other Americans don’t. And the “special subsidy” to which Pittenger refers is simply a premium contribution that his employer, the federal government, has long made to the health insurance policies of its workers.


Our readers may recall that before this provision was created, there were claims circulating that Congress was “exempt” from the law. This twisted reading of the legislation was based on the fact that originally Congress, like other Americans with work-based insurance or Americans on Medicare and Medicaid, wouldn’t be eligible for the exchanges. In other words, Congress was supposedly “exempt” when members couldn’t participate in the exchanges, and now that they are required to do so, they’re still somehow “exempt” from the law. Neither of these convoluted claims is true. [, 8/30/13]

Myth #2: Premium Prices Will Increase Due To Health Care Law

Fox News: Dropping Out Of Exchanges Would Increase Premium Prices. A September 16 segment on Fox News’ Fox & Friends discussed insurers dropping out of some state exchanges, which Fox Business Network’s Kate Rogers claimed could spike prices:

ROGERS: Well we’ve long known that the Affordable Care Act would propel people into our U.S. health care system, increasing demand for coverage. But what we’ve seen starting since this past May, were insurers actually dropping out of the individual market and that means that costs could really go up for consumers if demand is going up and supply is going down, both of those things can spike prices. [Fox News, Fox & Friends,9/16/13]

Daily Caller: HHS Released Its Premium Rates And One Think Tank Analysis Found “Many Consumers Are In For Higher Costs.” A September 25 article in The Daily Caller claimed that an analysis by the Manhattan Institute for Public Policy Research found that, compared to current insurance rates, many consumers will face higher costs:

Just days away from its launch, the Department of Health and Human Services has finally released premium rates for the 36 state Obamacareexchanges it will run. One analysis found many consumers are in for higher costs.

HHS proudly announced that the final premiums it’s decided on are lower than the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had originally predicted. But though the prices are lower than the CBO had thought, both of those numbers are dramatically higher than what Americans currently pay.

The conservative Manhattan Institute for Public Policy Research compared HHS’s numbers to current insurance premium averages and found thatObamacare will almost double underlying insurance rates for the average 27-year-old man, Avik Roy reported in Forbes. [The Daily Caller, 9/25/13]

FACT: Premiums Will Be Lower Than Expected

CBS News: “Premiums Nationwide Are Expected To Be Around 16 Percent Lower Than Originally Predicted.” A September 25 CBS News article highlighted a recent report released by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department which found that premium prices nationwide are “expected to be around 16 percent lower than originally predicted” :

When open enrollment begins on the online, state-based marketplaces established under Obamacare, premiums nationwide are expected to be around 16 percent lower than originally predicted, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department said in a new report released Wednesday.

The administration sees the lower-than-expected premiums as a sign that the plan to drive down health costs for consumers by increasing competition is working. They also point to the insurers entering the individual health insurance market for the first time as a sign of strong competition, as well as the variety of plans that will be available on the market.

For families nationwide, “these new options will finally make health insurance work within their budget,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters Tuesday. [CBS News, 9/25/13]

HHS: “Nearly 6 In 10 Uninsured Americans Can Pay Less Than $100 Per Month For Coverage In The Health Insurance Marketplace.” A September 17 press release by HHS found that under the new state-based exchanges six in 10 uninsured Americans can pay less than $100 a month with subsidies included:

A new report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that 56 percent, or nearly six in ten of the people who don’t have health insurance today may be able to get coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace for less than $100 per month.

Beginning on October 1, individuals and families will have a new way to shop for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.  They’ll be able to compare their options using side-by-side information about price, quality and benefits.  With one application they’ll be able to see if they qualify for premium tax credits or Medicaid that lower the costs of coverage right away.  Coverage through the Marketplace starts as early as January 1, 2014. [, 9/17/13]

Myth #3: The Affordable Care Act Includes Death Panels

Fox’s Sarah Palin: “Of Course There Are Death Panels” In “Evil” Obamacare. During a segment on Fox News’ Cashin’ In, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin advanced the “death panels” myth, saying:

PALIN: Of course there are death panels in there. But the important thing to remember is that’s just one aspect of this atrocious, unaffordable, cumbersome, burdensome evil policy of Obama’s and that is Obamacare. [Fox News, Cashin’ In8/10/13]’s John Nolte: Death Panels “Are Already A Part Of Obamacare.” columnist John Nolte claimed that “death panels” are included in the health care law:

The first services usually axed by death panels staffed with a handful of bureaucrats are the costly and uncertain experimental procedures that sometimes fail many times before leading to a breakthrough, as well as expensive, life-saving operations on the ill, handicapped, and elderly.

Some Democrats, most notably Howard Dean, are already pushing back against the “death panels” that are already a part of ObamaCare. [, 8/10/13]

Fox’s Marc Siegel: IPAB Is “A Death Panel, It’s A Rationing Board.” On Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox News contributor Marc Siegel called the Individual Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) “a death panel” and “a rationing board.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto8/6/13, via Media Matters]

Fox’s Eric Bolling: IPAB Decides “What Medical Treatment I’m Going To Be Able To Get.” On Your World, Fox host Eric Bolling said that “the whole point of [IPAB] is to decide what medical treatment I’m going to be able to get.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto8/6/13, via Media Matters]

Rush Limbaugh: “Death Panels” Will Decide “Who Gets What, Who Gets Paid For And Who Doesn’t.” On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed, “There’s a thing in Obamacare called death panels that are going to decide what, you know, who gets what, who gets paid for and who doesn’t.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show8/1/13]

Fox’s Sean Hannity: “Obamacare Death Panels Are In Fact Alive And Well.” On his Fox News show, host Sean Hannity said that “there is new evidence to suggest the so-called Obamacare death panels are in fact alive and well.” Hannity interviewed Palin, who said that her “claim that death panels were a part of Obamacare and the rationing of health care services” has “proven to be true.” [Fox News, Hannity, 7/30/13, via Nexis]

FACT: Law Does Not Allow IPAB To Recommend Rationing Health Care

Health Care Law Explicitly States That IPAB Cannot Make “Any Recommendation To Ration Health Care.” The text of the ACA confirms that IPAB cannot make “any recommendation to ration health care… or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria”:

The proposal shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums under section 1818, 1818A, or 1839, increase Medicare beneficiary cost- sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria. [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, accessed 8/13/13,]

PolitiFact: IPAB “Wouldn’t Make Any Health Care Decisions For Individual Americans.” A PolitiFact analysis of the claim that IPAB would make the final decision on available treatments found that IPAB would make broad policy decisions, not individual recommendations. It also noted that IPAB is “forbidden from submitting ‘any recommendation to ration health care’”:

The health care law directs a new national board — with 15 members who are political appointees — to identify Medicare savings. It’s forbidden from submitting “any recommendation to ration health care,” as Section 3403 of the health care law states. It may not raise premiums for Medicare beneficiaries or increase deductibles, coinsurance or co-payments. The IPAB also cannot change who is eligible for Medicare, restrict benefits or make recommendations that would raise revenue.

What it can do is reduce how much the government pays health care providers for services, reduce payments to hospitals with very high rates of re-admissions or recommend innovations that cut wasteful spending. Some argue that because the IPAB can reduce the money a doctor receives, this could lead to an indirect form of rationing.

But the board wouldn’t make any health care decisions for individual Americans. Instead, as PolitiFact Georgia reported, it would make broad policy decisions that affect Medicare’s overall cost. [PolitiFact, 10/3/12]

Wash. Post's Glenn Kessler: The ACA “Explicitly Says That The Recommendations Cannot Lead To Rationing Of Health Care.” Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler wrote that IPAB “appears aimed at doing the same thing as the House Republican Medicare plan”:

The health-care law explicitly says that the recommendations cannot lead to rationing of health care. Of course, “rationing” is in the eye of beholder, and one common complaint is that rationing is not defined. The law also limits recommendations that would change benefits, modify eligibility or increase Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing, such as deductibles, coinsurance and co-payments.

On the surface, the IPAB appears aimed at doing the same thing as the House Republican Medicare plan — reducing the runaway costs of Medicare, except on a faster track. (The GOP plan would not kick in until 2021, just a few years before the Medicare hospital fund begins to run dry.) [The Washington Post10/4/12]

PolitiFact: “Of All The Falsehoods And Distortions In The Political Discourse This Year, “Death Panels “Stood Out From The Rest.” In December 2009, PolitiFact named “death panels” its 2009 “Lie of the Year”:

Of all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest.

"Death panels."

The claim set political debate afire when it was made in August, raising issues from the role of government in health care to the bounds of acceptable political discussion. In a nod to the way technology has transformed politics, the statement wasn’t made in an interview or a television ad. Sarah Palin posted it on her Facebook page.

Her assertion — that the government would set up boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care — spread through newscasts, talk shows, blogs and town hall meetings. Opponents of health care legislation said it revealed the real goals of the Democratic proposals. Advocates for health reform said it showed the depths to which their opponents would sink. Still others scratched their heads and said, “Death panels? Really ?”

The editors of, the fact-checking Web site of the St. Petersburg Times , have chosen it as our inaugural “Lie of the Year.” [PolitiFact,12/18/09]

Myth #4: Shutting Down Government Over Obamacare Funding Will Stop Health Care Law

Fox’s Erick Erickson: Shutting Down The Government Over Obamacare Is “The Right Thing To Do.” On the September 13 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox contributor Erick Erickson called defunding Obamacare ”the right thing to do”:

ERICKSON: You’ve got dozens and dozens of Republicans who ran into office and got elected saying they were going to do every single thing they could to stop Obamacare. They have a choice now right now to defund it. And now they’re saying, “Oh well we can’t do that because we might get blamed for a shutdown.” So what? It’s the right thing to do. American companies are shutting down because they won’t shut down Obamacare. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto9/13/13, via Media Matters]

Fox News Radio Host Todd Starnes On Defunding: “Anything Less Is A Betrayal To The People.” Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes called on Republicans to defund Obamacare, even if it leads to a government shutdown:

Push will come to shove and Republicans need to be willing to shove back. If that means a government shutdown in October — so be it.

"If there’s ever been a time for politicians to take a risk on their next election, it’s stopping the government takeover of healthcare," said Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation. "This is not about political party or political calculation."

We need men and women who share DeMint’s fortitude in the House and Senate. We need lawmakers who are willing to stand their ground and stand up for the American people.


It’s time for Republicans to stand up and do the job they were elected to do. Anything less is a betrayal to the people who sent them to Washington, D.C. [, 9/20/13]

Hannity Applauds Sen. Cruz’s Defunding Effort: “I’m With You In This.” On the September 23 edition of his Fox News show, host Sean Hannity interviewed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on his efforts to defund and repeal the Affordable Care Act. After allowing Cruz a platform to criticize ACA and advocate defunding measures which could lead to a government shutdown, Hannity agreed, saying “I applaud your efforts. I’m with you in this. To me, this is a tipping point for the country.” [Fox News, Hannity, 9/23/13, via Nexis]

FACT: Health Care Law Would Continue Even During A Government Shutdown

Washington Post: Affordable Care Act Implementation Would Continue Even During A Government Shutdown. According to an article in The Washington Post, “Eighty-five percent of the Affordable Care Act’s funding comes from mandatory spending that would not be affected by a shutdown.” Therefore, as, David Simas, White House deputy senior adviser for communications and strategy, explained, that while there may be some impacts of a shutdown, “it does not go into the core of what we are doing.” [The Washington Post9/25/13]

Myth #5: The Affordable Care Act Is “Socialized Medicine” And A “Government Takeover” Of Health Care

Fox News’ Monica Crowley: “You Don’t Surrender The Nation To Socialized Medicine Just Because You Think That You Can’t Win The PR Battle.” Fox News’ Monica Crowley pushed the idea that Congress should consider a government shutdown unless a resolution funding the government included defunding the Affordable Care Act. When faced with opposition to that opinion from a Fox colleague, Crowley explained that, “You don’t surrender the nation to socialized medicine just because you think that you can’t win the PR battle.” [Fox News, Happening Now9/20/13, via Media Matters]

Fox Quotes Heritage Foundation’s Jim DeMint: Politicians Need To Stop “The Government Takeover Of Healthcare.” According to a September 20 piece on by Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes, Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint defended a decision to cause a government shutdown over funding the Affordable Care Act claiming it was worth it to”take a risk” in order to stop “the government takeover of healthcare”:

"If there’s ever been a time for politicians to take a risk on their next election, it’s stopping the government takeover of healthcare," said Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation. "This is not about political party or political calculation." [, 9/20/13]

FACT: The Affordable Care Act Is Not Socialized Medicine Or A Government Takeover Of Health Care

PolitiFact Named “Government Takeover Of Health Care” As Its 2010 “Lie Of The Year.” In its article declaring “a government takeover of health care” to be the Lie of the Year, PolitiFact explained how the law “relies largely on the free market” and “private companies”:

"Government takeover" conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees. But the law Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market:

  • Employers will continue to provide health insurance to the majority of Americans through private insurance companies.
  • Contrary to the claim, more people will get private health coverage. The law sets up “exchanges” where private insurers will compete to provide coverage to people who don’t have it.
  • The government will not seize control of hospitals or nationalize doctors.
  • The law does not include the public option, a government-run insurance plan that would have competed with private insurers.
  • The law gives tax credits to people who have difficulty affording insurance, so they can buy their coverage from private providers on the exchange. But here too, the approach relies on a free market with regulations, not socialized medicine.

PolitiFact reporters have studied the 906-page bill and interviewed independent health care experts. We have concluded it is inaccurate to call the plan a government takeover because it relies largely on the existing system of health coverage provided by employers.

It’s true that the law does significantly increase government regulation of health insurers. But it is, at its heart, a system that relies on private companies and the free market.

Republicans who maintain the Democratic plan is a government takeover say that characterization is justified because the plan increases federal regulation and will require Americans to buy health insurance.

But while those provisions are real, the majority of Americans will continue to get coverage from private insurers. And it will bring new business for the insurance industry: People who don”t currently have coverage will get it, for the most part, from private insurance companies. [PolitiFact, 12/16/10]

Myth #6: People Will Be Able To Commit Subsidy Fraud On The Exchanges

Times-Dispatch: “People Who Want Federal Help Paying For Their Health Insurance Will Not Have To Prove They Are Eligible For It.” A September 23 editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch claimed that the Obama administration announced in July that people requesting subsidies under the Affordable Care Act’s individual exchanges will not have to prove they are eligible for the subsides nor will anyone “check to see whether you’re legally entitled to collect them”:

People who want federal help paying for their health insurance will not have to prove they are eligible for it, the Obama administration has announced. (“Announced” isn’t quite the right word, though - given that the decision was buried in a 600-page regulation quietly released over the Fourth of July weekend.) This means you can apply for insurance subsidies through Obamacare’s new state-by-state exchanges, and nobody will check to see whether you’re legally entitled to collect them. [Richmond Times-Dispatch9/23/13]

Manhattan Institute’s Avik Roy: Obama Administration Is “Deliberately Encouraging Tens Of Billions Of Dollars Of Waste, Fraud, And Abuse” By Not Requiring Eligibility Verification. A July 6 opinion piece in Forbes by Manhattan Institute senior fellow Avik Roy explained that the law doesn’t require verification before giving subsidies to those who are enrolling in the exchanges and initially only works on the “honor system.” The piece continues:

The goal here is plain as day. The Obama administration is laser-focused on making sure that enough Americans enroll onto Obamacare-subsidized health insurance platforms, because if they do, it will be politically impossible for Republicans to repeal Obamacare in the future.

Politics ain’t beanbag, they say. But deliberately encouraging tens of billions of dollars of waste, fraud, and abuse in order to achieve a political objective is profoundly immoral. It’s a breach of faith with the hard-working taxpayers whose paychecks are being harnessed to a cause many of them don’t support. [Forbes7/6/13] “Experts Say” Lack Of Eligibility Verification “Could Result In Billions Of Dollars In Waste, Fraud, And Abuse.” A piece pushed comments by Manhattan Institute’s Avik Roy who claimed that subsidy fraud could result in “billions of dollars of waste, fraud, and abuse”:

Obamacare’s delayed implementation of the employer mandate means health insurance exchanges and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will be unable to determine whether individuals are eligible for taxpayer-funded subsidies and will instead now rely on the honor system. Experts say the shift could result in billions of dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse.


Forbes writer Avik Roy says the reason for the Obama Administration’s decision to move forward with the new scheme is clear.

"The goal here is plain as day," writes Roy. "The Obama administration is laser-focused on making sure that enough Americans enroll ontoObamacare-subsidized health insurance platforms, because if they do, it will be politically impossible for Republicans to repeal Obamacare in the future."

Roy added: “Deliberately encouraging tens of billions of dollars of waste, fraud, and abuse in order to achieve a political objective is profoundly immoral.” [, 7/7/13]

FACT: Government Has Established Subsidy Verification Measures

Full Verification System Is Delayed Until 2015, But Government Will Conduct Audits Of Those Suspected Of Fraud. According to an article in The Washington Post discussing the Obama administration’s decision to delay full verification measures until 2015, the federal government will conduct audits for federally managed exchanges and some state exchanges of “a statistically significant sample” of those who underreport their income. [The Washington Post7/5/13]

CNN Money: “Exchanges Must Still Check The Applicant’s Income Against A Federal Database.” According to a July 15 CNN Money article, eligibility will still be checked against an applicant’s income. However, the exchange may “choose to rely on what the applicant says”:

The new rule doesn’t fully excuse exchanges from having to verify income, said Judy Solomon, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Exchanges must still check the applicant’s income against a federal database, which will include information from his federal tax returns and a record of Social Security benefits.

The exchanges will be looking for disparities between what the applicant says and what’s in the database.

If it looks like someone is understating his income by more than 10%, and the exchange doesn’t have other sources to quickly check against, the exchange may choose to rely on what the applicant says.

But in those cases, the exchange must also conduct a random sample of similar applicants to make sure the verification process is working. [CNN Money, 7/15/13]

Federal Government Already Has Income Verification Tools Which Could Aid In Verifying Eligibility. A September 16 Health Affairs post explained that the federal government can use “Medicaid’s third-party liability system and Medicare’s coordination-of-benefits mechanisms,” which already collect information on “which companies offer and which employees and dependents receive ESI [employer-sponsored insurance].” [Health Affairs9/16/13]

Health Insurance Marketplaces Can Verify “7 In 10 Subsidy-Eligible Consumers” By Ensuring Recipients Or Their Spouses Don’t Work For Companies That Offer ESI. The Health Affairs article explained that if health insurance marketplaces establish which employers give employer-sponsored insurance by using federal verification tools, they would “verify eligibility for more than 7 in 10 subsidy-eligible consumers,” which would allow audits to “focus exclusively on subsidy recipients who work for companies that offer ESI.” [Health Affairs9/16/13]

CNN Money: Exchanges Are “Only Approving Estimated Tax Credits,” IRS Does Final Subsidy Calculation. According to CNN Money, someone who “slips through the cracks - and gets more of a subsidy than he is entitled to” - can still be identified because the exchanges are “only approving estimated tax credits,” and the “final calculation of a subsidy’s size will be done after the fact by the IRS.” [CNN Money, 7/15/13]

Washington Post: “Lying On The Exchange Form Carries With It A Penalty Of As Much As $25,000.” According to an article in The Washington Post, “lying on the exchange form carries with it a penalty of as much as $25,000,” and an individual who lied about income on the form would have to “pay back the extra subsidies when filing a tax return for 2014.” [The Washington Post,7/5/13]

Government Currently Uses The “Honor System In Situations In Which It Collects Data On Millions Of Individuals.” The Washington Post quoted Washington and Lee University law professor Timothy S. Jost who explained that “the honor system” — or the consumer self-reporting system that the government will rely on until other verification measures are in place — is not unprecedented and is used “in situations in which [government] collects data on millions of individuals” such as “people [who] are expected to report their cash tips to the Internal Revenue Service as income.” The article continued:

"An awful lot of the economy is a cash economy," [Jost] said. "If we had to verify every statement that was made to the IRS, our economy would collapse." [Washington Post7/5/13]

Myth #7: Obamacare ”Narrow Networks” Will Constrain Health Choices

Las Vegas Review-Journal: If Your Doctor Isn’t In The Narrow Network, “You Will Not Be Able To Keep Your Doctor. Period.” According to an editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, President Obama’s promise that Americans can keep their doctors and health care plans if they like them is false because of “skinny networks” which would cut “the number of doctors and hospitals they contract with”:

President Barack Obama’s 2009 guarantee was emphatic. “We will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period.”

ObamaCare exchanges roll out in less than two weeks. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — or at least the portions of it the president deems politically expedient — takes effect Jan. 1. And many Nevadans are about to learn the value of the president’s word — and get notice worthy of an exclamation-point tirade.

As reported by the Review-Journal’s Jennifer Robison on Sept. 12, Nevada’s insurers are expected to control the costs of dozens of coverage mandates by slashing the number of doctors and hospitals they contract with, creating what local employee benefits consultants call “skinny networks.”

If you like your doctor, and your doctor isn’t in your new skinny network, then guess what? You will not be able keep your doctor. Period. [Las Vegas Review-Journal9/19/13]

Union Leader: Insurers Under Obamacare Will Limit Health Care Access For All. A September 23 Union Leader editorial pointed to limited insurance networks, or narrow networks, created to cover the uninsured as a failure of the ACA:

It turns out that New Hampshire is not alone in having health care choices constrained by Obamacare. The New York Times reported on Sunday that insurers in many states are shrinking their provider networks because of the Affordable Care Act.

"Federal officials often say that health insurance will cost consumers less than expected under President Obama’s health care law," the Times reported. "But they rarely mention one big reason: many insurers are significantly limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to consumers." [New Hampshire Union Leader9/23/13]

FACT: Narrow Networks Provide Health Care Coverage While Keeping Costs Low

NYT: Narrow Networks Hold Down Costs For “Low- And Moderate-Income People.” According to a September 22 New York Times article, narrow networks make health insurance affordable to the uninsured by reducing costs due to streamlined provider networks:

When insurance marketplaces open on Oct. 1, most of those shopping for coverage will be low- and moderate-income people for whom price is paramount. To hold down costs, insurers say, they have created smaller networks of doctors and hospitals than are typically found in commercial insurance. And those health care providers will, in many cases, be paid less than what they have been receiving from commercial insurers. [The New York Times9/22/13]

BDC Advisors: New Narrow Networks Have An Emphasis On Quality And Cost Savings. According to BDC Advisors, a strategy consulting firm, new narrow insurance networks are focused on providing quality care and cost savings:

A recent BDC survey of national and regional Health Plans indicates there is a resurgence of narrow, tailored, tiered and high performance networks products in the market with premiums substantially below traditional open access offerings and with a new focus on quality. These new benefits plans are now being embraced by the market after falling into disfavor over the past decade for allegedly sacrificing quality for cost, as benefits managers opted for full service HMOs and open access PPO alternatives. Now with employers and patients seeking greater value for their health care dollars, businesses are showing a new willingness to offer narrow network products which encourage members to use more efficient health care alternatives, either by restricting networks to the most efficient providers and/or by having different copays and coinsurance for providers in different tiers of the network. [BDC Advisors, accessed 9/24/13]

EBRI: Employee Benefits Have Generally Relied On Restricted Networks. According to a 2009 Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) study, many Americans who receive employee health benefits coverage are already enrolled in a type of narrow network:

In 2008, 98 percent of Americans with employment-based health benefits were enrolled in some kind of managed care plan (Claxton et al., 2008). Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs) represent a great majority of that enrollment, with approximately 80 percent. A managed care system typically provides, arranges for, and finances medical services using provider payment methods that encourage cost containment by contracting with select networks of providers.

Before the spread of managed care in the 1990s, insurance coverage was mostly based on a fee-for-service (FFS) system. Beneficiaries in the plan picked their doctors and hospitals at will. Payment was made by the beneficiary when service was rendered, or the health care provider accepted assignment of the claim from the beneficiary, and afterward claim forms were submitted to the insurance company (or self-insured plan sponsor) for reimbursement. Under managed care, enrollees are often required to follow utilization review and disease management procedures in order to secure coverage for services received. [Employee Benefit Research Institute, accessed 9/24/13]

Massachusetts, Which Uses Narrow Networks, Matches National Average In Health Access And Availability Of Care. According to the Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis, the state’s health plan performance —which includes narrow networks— matches the national average of health care access:

Massachusetts health plan performance was in line with the national average. There was also little variation across plans on two HEDIS measures used to evaluate adults’ and childrens’ access to primary care practitioners and preventive care, a key indicator of health care access. The measures evaluate the proportion of enrollees that had the recommended preventive care visits; higher rates indicate greater access to preventive care.

For adults, the Massachusetts average score (96%) was in line with the national average (95%) (Figure 14). Among the health plans examined, there was little variation; performance ranged from 94% (Neighborhood Health Plan (NHP)) to 97% (HPHC PPO). On the children’s access measure, the average scores were between 97% and 99%. For the seven payers analyzed, scores exceeded national averages and, in all age ranges for children, every product scored above 95% on these measures. [Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis, August 2013]

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Narrow Networks On The Exchanges Apply To Newly Insured Or Those Who Switch Coverage. According to an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, narrow networks will appear on exchanges used by people seeking new insurance coverage:

Whether you’ll see a trimmed-down network in 2014 depends on your current coverage. If you have a policy through a big company or a self-insured business, and you don’t change plans Jan. 1, your network should stay the same. If you have to change plans, or if you’re buying for the first time, you could see thin networks. [Las Vegas Review-Journal9/11/13]

Myth #9: The Affordable Care Act Covers Abortions

Washington Times: "Taxpayer Funding Of Abortions Set To Increase Under Obamacare."According to The Washington Times, ACA funding will be used to provide abortions:

As Americans cast ballots in one of the most critical elections in decades, many would be surprised to learn that the current administration is prepared to funnel millions of dollars in new Medicaid funding to abortion providers. Only President Romney working with the new Congress can stop it. [The Washington Times,10/31/12]

Union Leader: Planned Parenthood Will Receive ACA Funds To Provide “Abortion On-Demand.” An August 19 editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader used the announcement that Planned Parenthood of Northern New England would receive navigator grant money to claim that Planned Parenthood’s “core business includes abortion-on-demand,” and quoted a source who said that “federal dollars and public funds shouldnot be granted to this organization.” [New Hampshire Union Leader8/19/13]

FACT: Funding Stemming From The ACA Will Not Cover Abortions

Planned Parenthood VP: Navigator Grants “Have Nothing To Do With Abortion And Won’t Be Used For Abortion Services.” Planned Parenthood Vice President Eric Ferrero stated that more than 90 percent of Planned Parenthood health centers provide ”basic, preventative care” for women, and the funds received under the navigator grant program “won’t be used for abortion services” and “have nothing to do with abortion.” [Reuters, 8/16/13

CMS: Planned Parenthood Of Northern New England Will Assist Patients With “Navigating The Health Insurance System.” According to the list of navigator grant recipients provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Planned Parenthood of Northern New England fulfills the requirements of the grant program because they are a nonprofit health care provider which will assist patients with “understanding new programs” and “navigating the health insurance system to find the most affordable coverage that meets their needs.”  [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 8/15/13]

Myth #10: The Affordable Care Act Is A Job Killer

Columbus Dispatch: “Many Employers Are Cutting Employee Hours” So They Do Not Have To Pay For Health Insurance For Their Employees. The Dispatch editorial claimed that “many employers” are cutting their employee’s hours to less than 30 hours per week in order to avoid paying their health care costs:

Because the law says full-time employees must be offered health insurance, and then redefines full time as 30 hours, rather than the traditional 40 hours, many employers are cutting employee hours so they don’t hit the 30-hour threshold. [The Columbus Dispatch8/28/13]

Fox News: “Ohio Clinic Touted By Obama Slashes Budget Due To ObamaCare.” According to a September 19 Fox News report, the Cleveland Clinic - the “largest employer in Northeast Ohio” - was forced to cut its budget due to the ACA:

An Ohio clinic that was touted by Obama while he was speaking on health care reform is now blaming ObamaCare after it was forced to cut $330 million from its budget.

Fox 8 reports the Cleveland Clinic, which is the largest employer in Northeast Ohio with about 39,000 workers in the region, announced the cuts to its 2014 budget at a meeting Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the clinic tells Fox News the clinic is being forced to cut back to prepare for increased costs and decreased revenue under the health care reform law.

These changes will include offering early retirement to approximately 3,000 employees, reducing operational costs, and then layoffs as needed.

The clinic says its main priority is to continue to provide a high quality of care during the transition, an attribute that led Obama to tout it in 2009 as an example of what hospitals could be under ObamaCare. [, 9/19/13]

FACT: Small Businesses Have Seen Increased Hiring As Economy Improves; Employers Show Few Signs Of Reducing Work Force Due To The ACA

USA Today: The Individual Mandate For Businesses To Provide Coverage Has Not Deterred Hiring. According to an August 21 USA Today article, there is no evidence that the ACA has caused small businesses to stop hiring:

The gains are beginning to shift the terms of the debate over the health care law. Under the law, businesses with 50-plus full-time-equivalent workers must offer insurance to people working 30 hours a week beginning in 2015. That mandate, originally slated for 2014, has not deterred hiring as feared, some economists now say.

As more data come in, the law’s impact can’t be seen in hiring statistics, says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.

"I was expecting to see it. I was looking for it, and it’s not there,” says Zandi, whose firm manages ADP’s surveys of overall private-sector job creation. If the Affordable Care Act "were causing a drop, you would see meaningful slowing.” [USA Today8/21/13]

Federal Reserve Bank Of Minneapolis Study: 89 Percent Of Individuals Surveyed Said Their Companies Did Not Plan To Cut Hours For Employees. According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, of the 205 contacts surveyed, 89 percent reported no plans to cut workers’ hours due to the Affordable Care Act:

The survey asked: Has your company or organization shifted to more part-time workers in response to the Affordable Care Act (federal health insurance requirements)?

Only 4 percent said they had shifted to more part-time workers, while another 7 percent said they planned to do so. But 89 percent said they had not made, nor were planning, such a move.[Federal Reserve Bank Of Minneapolis, 3/20/13]

CEPR Study: Only 0.6 Percent Of The Workforce Work Just Below 30 Hour Cutoff. According to a July 2013 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, an analysis of the Current Population Survey shows that only 0.6 percent of the workforce is currently working just under the 30 hour cutoff for a full-time employee, suggesting “that employers do not appear to be changing hours in large numbers in response to the sanctions in the ACA.” [Center for Economic and Policy Research, July 2013]

Federal Reserve Bank Of San Francisco Study: Any Effect ACA Has On Reduced Hours For Workers Is “Likely To Be Small.” According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, “most large employers already faced IRS rules” preventing them from denying coverage to full-time workers but haven’t reduced workers’ hours to avoid paying those costs. The report further notes that once the ACA is fully implemented, ”the ultimate increase in the incidence of part-time work […] is likely to be small, on the order of a 1 to 2 percentage point increase or less.” [Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, 8/26/13]

The Atlantic: “Much Of What The Cleveland Clinic System Is Doing Follows The Recommendations Of Health-Care Analysts Closely.” According to a September 20 story in The Atlantic, the Cleveland Clinic has been “working on reducing costs for years” to be viable but reports it is ”still hiring” and is following normal procedures in cutting its budget: 

In fact, the “Obamacare is killing jobs” story isn’t really accurate. It’s not totally false — the Cleveland Clinic will in fact take in less money because of the law —but it’s a more complicated story about changes in medicine. When I reached Sheil on Thursday, she seemed a bit confused by the emphasis on Obamacare in reports. “We’ve been working on reducing costs for years,” she said. 

"We felt health-care reform was absolutely necessary," Sheil said. "This is the new normal. This is where hospitals have to focus to be viable in the long run. This is not doomsday for the clinic. We’re still growing — we’re still hiring. The hardest thing is when it affects people."

Actually, much of what the Cleveland Clinic system is doing follows the recommendations of health-care analysts closely. For example, it has consolidated closely located neonatal intensive care units, because high volumes tend to lead to better results. It’s working to reduce the number of procedures its staff performs, since in the current system “physicians are rewarded to do more, not to do the right thing for the patient,” as Sheil put it. And there’s a new focus on chronic diseases, which are an increasingly important and costly area for treatment. [The Atlantic9/20/13

h/t: MMFA

A new book from Jonathan Alter claims that Fox News President Roger Ailes told producers to cut off the microphone used by Fox host Geraldo Rivera as he pushed back against Fox’s politicization of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Appearing on Fox & Friends the day before the 2012 election, Rivera accused The Five's Eric Bolling of being “a politician trying to make a political point” with Bolling's claim that the government did “nothing” in response to the attack.

The New York Times reports that Alter writes in the upcoming book The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies that “Ailes called the control room and told the producers to cut Rivera’s mic.”

Mediaite reports that their sources claim that Ailes never called the control room, but that Fox News Executive Vice President of Programming Bill Shine did. They go on to write, “Shine did not order Rivera’s mic to be cut. Instead his call was to urge the show to move on because the segment had come to its conclusion, as the EVP seemed to believe that two Fox personalities calling each other liars with an escalating tone made for bad morning television and could potentially alienate their audience if it continued.”

h/t: MMFA