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An MSM Challenge On 1/2/14: Indict Yourselves.

Saturday, December 21, 2013  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

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The New York Times’ Robert Pear has a fine single paragraph summary of where we are on the even of the first huge deadline for evaluating Obamacare:

President Obama said Friday that “more than one million Americans have selected new health insurance plans through the federal and state marketplaces” since they opened on Oct. 1. The administration had hoped that 3.3 million would be signed up by the end of this month, according to a memo prepared by the Health and Human Services Department in early September.

Note “selected” –not “paid for”– but that isn’t the key takeaway from Pear’s summary.  The key is that less than 33% of the president’s announced goal has been met, and it was a very low bar to begin with.  “Failure,” by any fair definition. Will MSM report “Failure” on 1/2/14?

The numbers everywhere are horrible, but they are only the start of the story.  “Utter chaos” is how Avik Roy describes the situation.  Megan McCardle suggests that President Obama and his team of smartest-people-in-the-world have initiated the “self-destruction sequence.”  (We have very little to be grateful for when it comes to Obamacare, but two thank-yous are due the president for providing a big stage on which Roy and McCardle have truly shined.)  Many other MSM journalists have wholly missed the chance to fully articulate for their audiences how completely the promises of Obamacare have proven false, and nowhere more than in California, where the giant fraud that is CoveredCA.com comes along with a mountain of agency-generated hubris that ought to have attracted every modern muckraker in the the country.  But there aren’t any, alas.  This vacuum allows the shameless folks at CoveredCA.com to put out press releases that begin this way:

With the deadline approaching for Covered California™ health insurance coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014, tens of thousands of new enrollees are seeking out help and signing up for plans. In fact, preliminary data indicates that in just the past three days (Dec 16-18), 53,510 people enrolled by selecting a Covered California health insurance plan. That tops the 30,830 enrollments completed for the entire month of October by nearly 60 percent.

This is a bit like saying that if the Browns lose Sunday, they will have achieved 80% of last year’s success, even though this is a “rebuilding” season. (The Browns won 5 games in 2012, and the hopes were higher this year.)  I wrote here about CoveredCA’s many failures, but the state’s “elite” press is invested in the myth of CoveredCA.com executive director Peter Lee –progressive genius– and so no serious investigation of the agency’s massive flop is underway –yet.  Instead of reporting on the agency’s failures, news organizations are pretty much printing modified press releases, like this one at SFGate.com.  Others are acting as stenographers for the continuous Lee -fed stream of head fakes:

Now that’s a West Coast offense.

California’s Obamacare insurance exchange enrolled more than 53,000 people in health-care plans in just the first three days of this week, a blistering pace that had officials crowing on Thursday.

“December is turning out to be an enormous month,” said Peter Lee, head of the Covered California exchange.

Lee said the surprisingly strong level of enrollments—which comes just days before the key Dec. 23 enrollment deadline—puts the state on track to beat its original projection of signing up as many as 700,000 people in Obamacare insurance by the end of open enrollment in March.

If Lee and CoveredCA.com make 700,000 enrollees by 4/1, they will have crossed their very low, self-selected bar, but without noting that more than 1 million Californians had their coverage cancelled over the same span of time.

Which is why the coverage of Obamacare is so uneven.  Narratives develop –MSM rightly agreed that Minnesota’s exchange was a massive failure and has covered it as such- – but eager to find “balance,” MSM looks for “good news” stores such as what they are told about Covered California by Covered California, which has good news to spread only in its own press releases and because of its manipulated numbers.

Here’s a little math exercise for the new year, journalists: Seek out the number of people with health insurance in a state (excluding Medicaid) on 1/1/14 and subtract the number of people covered on 1/1/13.

If the resulting number is negative, Obamacare is a massive failure by any measure.

If the number is positive, divide the total amount spent on the construction and marketing of that state exchanges by the number of net new enrollees, and you will have a cost-per-newly-covered-individual that will allow the states to be ranked against each other.

This is the basic set of analytics by which Obamacare ought to be judged in the states.  Wait and see if you find these numbers anywhere on the 1/2/14, the first working day of  2014, and the day on which real reporters should be using real data to evaluate the rollout of Obamacare.

They won’t be.  MSM has figured out that it cannot deny the absolute, almost ludicrous collapse of Obamacare in places like Maryland, Minnesota and Oregon, but because lefty enthusiasts of the president live in great numbers in the rabbit warrens of the MSM, they are still blinkered to the reality of the collapse across the whole of Obamacare.  It really, truly is as bad as its center-right critics have been predicting, and MSM finds itself in a double bind.

That bind is professional and it is moral, and MSM will fail on both accounts on breaking it via hard. relentless reporting.

As professionals, MSM should not only has to first report on the president’s epic fail, it also had to admit that –gasp– the conservative and GOP critique of the undertaking was right from the beginning.

Worse yet, there are victims.  Millions of victims.  Ignoring them constitutes MSM’s moral failure. People who had coverage in 2013 –people who were guaranteed high-end, extraordinary health care without bankruptcy before Obamacare arrived– are now people who will now have to chose between running up massive bills that they will owe because they lost their coverage and got no new coverage, or foregoing necessary health care.

Here is the terrible problem for “journalists”: The MSM is complicit in this stripping of coverage from millions of Americans.  The ranks of the MSM didn’t do their jobs, haven’t done their jobs since 2009.  They didn’t do the hard work of probing the president and Speaker Pelosi’s and Leader Reid’s absurd claims in 2009 and 20120.  They allowed a bill to be passed that no one had read and which serious health care analysts warned against.

Even now they resist reporting the scale of the catastrophe.  They avert their eyes.  They do so because it is partially their fault.  They are complicit, and they know it.  Thus they look for stories which show the upside of Obamacare and ignore the numbers which reveals millions of stories of new hardships.

Lots of terrible damage has been done to real people.  A great deal more could be avoided if reporters started pushing for answers, started drilling down into the claims of people like Peter Lee and the cold, hard numbers.  Better late than never.  That is the most interesting question about journalism ion 2014: Even if few if any will confess to their complicity, will many or most actually start to do their jobs about the worst law of the post-war era?

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