I have been a beneficiary of the Affordable Care Act since the first open enrollment in January 2014. As a freelancer of long standing, I hadn’t had health insurance in almost ten years. When I filled out the online application at the Colorado Connect site (a technical Hindenburg, then and now) and told them I was essentially a self-employed business owner who expected to earn X that year, I was surprised to get a card in the mail just a few days later that includes a very decent plan. They asked for no verification of any of the info I’d supplied them, and have renewed my coverage twice now with no help from me.
So, I have no personal complaints. But I am sanguine enough to acknowledge that this says nothing about the experience of other people, and I am close with a few of them who have less than glowing things to say about the bureaucracy managing the ACA show here in Colorado. Moreover, the healthcare system in this country remains a nightmare for many. And while it makes no sense to blame President Obama personally or declare the program an on-balance failure — clearly, some people will thrive under the system at the expense of others, and I don’t think anyone in the know suggested this wouldn’t be the case — it is very easy to do this, because a large segment of the population is sufficiently bitter and blinkered to draw a direct line of causality between America having black Democratic president and their persistent case of anal warts.
I’ve just described the perfect storm for right-wing bloggers are pseudo-journalists, many of whom seem to prefer writing dishonestly to experiencing orgasms, to embark on a prolonged and gleeful misinformation spree. You’ve got angry right-wingers, lots of polls about health insurance, plausible debate over the overall effectiveness of the ACA in doing what it was intended to do (there are far more articles echoing this and this than stories offering opposing ideas in major media outlets, but we all know what the Yosemite Sam Brigade has to say about the mainstream media). That adds up to carte blanche for conservative “reporters” to throw meat scraps at the starving low-information piranhas just looking for one more reason to bitch about socialism, liberals, and (in the right company) blacks. Never mind that the meat is actually Tofurky or some such vegan impostor; stoking the fury of the pig-ignorant masses is critical. If you can do this by attaching a whole ton of deceitful shit to a central kernel of truth or even faint legitimacy, you’ve done your job and your site’s hit count will rise.
I found a great example yesterday, a story on a site called the American Observer with the headline:
Obamacare Poll: Most Enrollees Hate Their Plans
The first paragraph contains this:
The White House and the legacy media continue to claim that Obamacare is a “historic” success. Its actual enrollees, oddly enough, failed to get that memo. A new survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that a majority are dissatisfied with their plans: “Just over half (54 percent) now rate the value of their coverage as ‘only fair’ or ‘poor.'”
I wondered about this, so I did what maybe 1 in 113 readers of this shit were moved to do and read what was in the actual survey. Here’s what I found:
- “The majority of enrollees in ACA-compliant non-group plans give their overall coverage a positive rating, with 14 percent calling their plan ‘excellent’ and about half (52 percent) saying it is ‘good.'” [That’s 66 percent saying good or excellent. 14 percent call it “poor,” 17 percent “not so good.”]
- “Just over half (54 percent) [of those with ACA-compliant non-group plans] now rate the value of their coverage as ‘only fair’ or ‘poor.” [26 percent responded ‘poor,’ 28 percent ‘not so good.”]
Note the difference between people rating their coverage itself and the value of their coverage. The former is a more relevant metric, because most people are going to complain about having to shell out any money for insurance of any sort — it’s human nature.)
So on what planet does this translate to “Most Enrollees Hate Their Plans”? This is equivalent to asking everyone in Colorado, “Are you satisfied with the Rockies’ performance in recent years?” and if 88 percent of them say “no,” “not really,” or “I don’t even follow baseball,” writing a headline, “Seven in Eight Coloradans Hate the Rockies; Many Want Coors Field Converted to Giant Tittie Bar.”
Although I had never heard of this particular right-wing jizzrag, it’s apparently been around forever and is not merely some fringe site. That doesn’t change the fact that, for all its stilted pooh-poohing of “the legacy media,” that media at least has editorial standards and ombudspeople and whatnot so that it can’t get away with the kind of bullshit “journalists” like David Catron (a Cruz supporter and therefore not a mentally intact individual) can.