Thursday, February 12, 2015

Media's Dirty Tricks: Slanting a Story -- and Politicizing It -- with a Headline


Yahoo! Finance ran a CNNMoney story today with the headline "You'll pay a lot more to see the doctor with Obamacare than with job-based health insurance." Straight news, right? Wrong. Look at the lede (opening paragraph):
Obamacare enrollees have to shell out a lot more to see the doctor or get medications than their peers with job-based health insurance.
Sounds pretty bad, huh? Well, look at the next five paragraphs:
Deductibles, co-payments, and drug payments are higher under the average Obamacare silver-level plans -- the most popular -- than employer policies, according to a CNNMoney comparison of reports by Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Education Trust. The reports looked at policies offered on the exchanges for 2015 and those enrolled in employer plans in 2014.
To be sure, having Obamacare coverage is often better than being uninsured, especially if you rack up big bills through a major illness or accident.
Obamacare also offers cost-sharing subsidies for low-income Americans, which reduces their deductibles and co-pays.
And there is wide variety in out-of-pocket costs in both Obamacare and job-based plans. For many in the individual market, Obamacare eliminated sky-high deductibles of $10,000 or more that were common before health reform.
"The cost sharing is higher on the exchange than in the employer market, but it's lower than it was before," said Gary Claxton, director of the Health Care Marketplace Project, at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
I put the line in bold that should have been the lede. And the headline should be: "Obamacare brings down costs for people without job-based insurance." Why isn't it? The reason is simple. Reporters generally don't write their headlines, editors do. Do think editors might try to slant a story for political ends, hoping the headline does the disinformational damage for people who scan the news rather than read in depth? Do you think?

Of course, no worse example exists than Fox News. The entire operation is built to slant the news to the far right. Good news comes out about how many new jobs there are. Fox News doesn't like good news for Obama. So they go to work:


(Thanks, Media Matters.)

Of course the dirty trick here is that it's all good news, even the uptick to 5.7%, because it means more people are back in the labor force, more confident they'll find a job. That, naturally, is meaningless to Fox News. Thus host Steve Doocy says, "So the headline is unemployment rate ticks up to 5.7." Asshole. Same goes to the editor at CNNMoney.

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