Fort Worth Star-Telegram Issues Mea Culpa for Obamacare Takedown

JimWittTwitter.jpeg
Fort Worth Star-Telegram editor Jim Witt.
This fall, as the growing stack of policy cancellations was giving the lie to Obama's ill-considered "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it" promise, newspaper editors across the country were simultaneously barking at reporters to dig up Obamacare horror stories, and fast.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Yamil Berard came through with some particularly juicy ones, leading with the story of a 26-year-old multiple sclerosis patient from Arlington named Whitney Johnson. Her plan was ending on January 1, and she hadn't been able to sign up for insurance.

The story was well-read. Johnson was invited to appear on Sean Hannity's radio show. House speaker John Boehner tweeted a link to his followers.

What the story didn't say was that Johnson, along with two of the other three Obamacare victims included in Berard's story, were affiliated with the Tea Party, a fact that only came to light when blogger Maggie Mahar did some due diligence. Over the weekend, she penned a takedown of the Star-Telegram piece for healthcare.org, debunking Johnson's claims about the cost of prospective insurance plans, which were higher than would be allowed under the healthcare law, pointing out that the others featured in the story would have paid less or about the same for plans obtained through the healthcare marketplace, and generally implying that the paper and its editors were guilty of journalistic malfeasance.

This morning comes Star-Telegram Editor Jim Witt's official response: a mea culpa, teased on the front page, admitting that the paper "left out key information" from the story.

Witt doesn't go so far as to issue a retraction. He says the anecdotes included in Berard's piece are accurate and that she wasn't seeking out Tea Partiers. Nevertheless, Witt writes:

One of the women quoted in the story, Whitney Johnson, told us Monday that, although she is not a member of the Tea Party, her mother is the founder of the Parker County Tea Party chapter. Johnson also wrote a letter to the Concerned Women For America that appeared on the Tea Party website, in which she makes her feelings about the Affordable Care Act pretty clear.

Johnson later found affordable insurance at the healthcare website with the help of a Fort Worth broker. Tea Party members, of course, need insurance just like members of other political parties.

Knowing the background of the person quoted can give readers important clues about someone's motives, but you didn't learn that from reading our story, because we neglected to investigate the background of the people we quoted. That's something you learn to do in Journalism 101. I remember my old professor saying "If you mother says she loves you, check it out."

There's no reason to disbelieve Witt's explanation that this was unintentional. Still, it stands a reminder that in journalism, as in life, a bit of cursory googling can save a lot of headaches.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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85 comments
everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

So when is the rest of the Establishment Media going to start issuing their mea culpas for the dozens of Democrat operatives who have been featured as Obamacare "successes"?

paulpsycho78
paulpsycho78

single payer, not for profit, eliminate unnecessary administrators, common sense.  But it will never happen, because its bad business for the our super rich overlords

JackJett
JackJett

There will only be few and rare cases where the Affordable Care Act will not be of help to almost every person in America. 

You can bash a plan of action but it can't bash back.  And NO ONE will ever come back and say....hey that ObamaCare sure save us a shitload of money when our son got very ill last month, or never an appreciation of the availability of coverage for pre-existing conditions and long term chronic situations.  This will improve the lives of so many.  And look, you can still call him names and demand his birth certificate.


So what would be nice is if at least a few journalist would take the time to explain and enlighten readers on the ins and out and what sort of coverage works best for different ailments.   So we can ALL learn this NEW system together. 

Look at it this way.....it will keep you alive long enough and healthier enough to you guys can continue to bash Obama, and ensure that we can carry an AK47 along with a pistol and stop those damn gays from wanting to drive on heterosexual streets.


Obama will be gone soon and I don't think you REALLY want to stop a program that can save lives and money.   And soon Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin can take over the White House ......and it will be the sort of WHITE House you can admire.

animas
animas

This is an example, sadly, of the incremental demise of the (incredibly shrinking) Fort Worth Star Telegram.  This newspaper (management-editorial staff) has managed to do almost everything wrong in the past decade, mainly by (intentionally or unwittingly) propping up the stagnant political status quo and the shady political- business -industrial class hand and glove relationships  at the expense of the fairly discriminating and increasingly diverse  Tarrant County population.The FWST has insulated itself from any criticism recently by disallowing anonymous comments by readers.  Clueless?

If I want insightful analysis of Metroplex news I turn to other sources.  


It would be best if FWST reached out for radically new blood. Schutze would be one heck of an editor in chief in my opinion.

ruddski
ruddski

Why didn't they interview Greg Packer?

jmckee3
jmckee3

The apology seems to be missing the point, I really don't care about her party affiliation, her feelings about the ACA in general or her motivation for appearing in the story, what I care about is the responsibility of a newspaper to do some basic fact checking which they completely failed at.

There is always someone willing to tell a reporter anything, he rolled with it because it is a popular narrative, that is lazy, irresponsible and shameful to the entire paper.

Dub919
Dub919

Eric, 


Speaking of Journalism 101, the takedown piece was posted on healthinsurance.org, not healthcare.org.


#FriendlyNeighborhoodEditor

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

" Still, it stands a reminder that in journalism, as in life, a bit of cursory googling can save a lot of headaches."


That's rich.  

ruddski
ruddski

2016, if doing so doesn't threaten their acceptance by the new administration.

Then it'll be "we were snookered too, folks, we never thought a Messiah could foist such fraud on his people".

After much introspection, they'll promise to more represent the Founders' vision of a adversary press, and the coincidence of a Republican administration and/or Congress will be a great way to "re-learn our principles!"

ruddski
ruddski

The reason Obamacare isn't working and is seen as poor policy by most Americans is because the most communication-savvy tech geek political machine EVAH, along with the most supportive press in history, just couldn't get the message across? Are they blaming their incompetence, or the Stupidity of the People?

The Obama misadministration has already done what you suggest - called on Hollywood to weave pro-O'Care messages into plot, and called on news media to help sell the government program. As with his guidance and suggestions to insurance companies, it's soft nationalization

All this because the people who adored Obama into office, and are expected to pay for his policy, aren't exactly mobbing the entry gate. The Polls say that a frightening percentage of his faithful are not very happy with him OR his Legacy Policy.

The reason for the misadministration's misrepresentations are clear - Obamacare never had a prayer of becoming law if they didn't blatantly and repeatedly lie about it.

In the private sector, this is called fraud, and would result in legal action against the fraudsters

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@roo_ster group plans provided by large companies as part of their compensation are far cheaper than the individual market.  Always have been.

And only the individual market is presently subject to Obamacare.

Soon, the company (group) plans will no longer be exempted, as a political measure.

Then the shit REALLY hits the fan.

Even the Press' health plans will be in play (ha!).  Then it gets personal.

Except government, who exempted themselves.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@roo_ster

wow, an employer offers its employees the opportunity to enroll in a plan, and that plan is cheaper than if someone went out without the employer subsidy and obtained coverage?

shocking news...just shocking

ruddski
ruddski

Yeah, but those Chinese doctors really suck.

kduble
kduble

@jmckee3 I agree. The point isn't the motives of the people they interviewed. The point is the things they said weren't true.

ruddski
ruddski

A little googling would have revealed that NBC just used a Democrat activist presently running for office and who was a volunteer on the Obama campaign, to tell of her great Obamacare experience.

JackJett
JackJett

@ruddski I usually take in more venom than I ever spew but in your case, you should just be aware that I have yet to find one iota of substance, wit, or insight in anything you spew.  You rant for the sake of ranting and while others may find your incessant babbling an entertaining sideshow, I find it a total drag to any attempt at the exchange on thought.  To put it bluntly, you spew shit every single time you hit a key on a keyboard.  

That is only my opinion.   I read the first and last line of your replies and have found that far too tedious to consume.   So now it is just down to the first and last word.   The fraudsters. 


Please continue to reply and make comments on every post I make as I understand it comes from your deep love, respect, and admiration of my inner and outer beauty.   Continue to refer to me as Mr. Jett or when you are feeling especially randy, call me Sir Jett.  And after each reply and/or comment look above and thank your good Lord that Sir Jett is here for your eternal admiration though I find your entertainment value to be as frigid as a Cheney vagina. 

Now get back to work.   I know you love to love me but I simply don't have the time to take in another rescue. 

kduble
kduble

@holmantx@roo_ster Government workers aren't exempt. They're covered by group plans like Wal-Mart workers.You just took a potshot at your own thesis.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ruddskiSo, you disapprove of NBC getting its information at a poisoned well. Does that mean you also disapprove of the Startlegram doing the same thing?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@ruddski 


Right now, the Administration has only loosened Godzilla on the hapless portion of the population that uses individual policies and the Youth.


Wait til Gojira is allowed to feed on the Dallas Observer's (employers) group plans.

ruddski
ruddski

Nice rant, Jack, remember -it's all about you!

if you can't spot fraud when committed, that's normal, fraudsters like Obama are good at it. But when fraud is proved and your pique is directed at the messenger, I'd say you're just being silly.

Ps. Try addressing the points, you'll look less hissy fitty.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx

huh? your link isn't about the comment by kdub..

government workers ARE covered "by group plans like Wal-Mart workers", they are covered by FEHB policies issued by Blue Cross.

ruddski
ruddski

@holmantx

If you don't support the remarkable expansion of Executive Authority like that cited in your link, you're supporting hamstringing of the next administration, which is likely to be a Republican.

There's a lot of laws that need non-enforcement, amigo, and President Christie or Robertson or whomever is going to need a lot of latitude to fundamentally re-transform some fundamentals, like the legality of a Mynkoff-Katz vote or the re-opening of Guantanamo Bay to house our media.

Viva Obama!! Three more years!!!

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@ruddskibut, those docs are in emergency rooms--the most expensive medical services in the industry.  Insuring them would route them to cheaper care, and thus saving us money. 

ruddski
ruddski

Everybody in America has a doctor, it's the law. It's even free in many, many cases.

It's just that we haven't been taxing enough to pay for the free stuff, hopefully now, we will be going after those historical free riders, working youth, to pony up.

And now the ungrateful little shots are whining!

Excuse the Royal Us, but aren't they getting exactly what they were told they asked for?

gladyskravitz
gladyskravitz

@bmarvel @ruddski There is a difference. The person on NBC who praised the ACA was telling the truth. The person interviewed by the Star Telegram was not.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@bmarvel @ruddski

it appears the "point" was either a) his failure to see a period, maybe indication of failing eyesight, or b) his not too funny sense of humor...

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ruddskii'm sure you were making a point of some kind. I just have no idea what it is.

ruddski
ruddski

I know absolutely nothing about NBC newspapers too, not even their names.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ruddskiI don't know enough about NBC. Newspapers I know.

ruddski
ruddski

If unknown and unintentional, then it's just sloppy.

NBC wasn't sloppy.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ruddskiThe reporter in this case did not know the affiliations. She was inexperienced, not normally assigned to cover health care issues and thus had no sources to draw on, and was on a very tight deadline.

This is what comes of newspaper downsizing and the loss of seasoned professionals.

It's best to check out the ordinary explanations for these things before invoking conspiracies and "affiliations."  As William of Ockham wisely counseled.  

ruddski
ruddski

It's worse than sloppy if they knew the affiliations. That's just dishonesty, and it's no way to keep the customers happy, even those who agree.

Just ask Obama.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ruddskiFair enough, ruddski. There's no shortage of sloppy reporting on both sides of the political spectrum.

ruddski
ruddski

Absolutely. It's poor journalism, but very common unfortunately.

There's no Need to use this type of source when the field is so rich.

ruddski
ruddski

oh, so you were mis-using the term purposefully. That's different.

JohnSmallBerries
JohnSmallBerries

@ruddski You are slow. I said, "My head hurts" which was your opening to make a comment on medical care.

ruddski
ruddski

I counter anecdote with data, which is called a "logical fallacy". OK.

Journalism 101?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@holmantxwhen you get old, everyone gets on the gov't dole.  And, you'll be too old to persist in your sophistry

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 

@ruddski clearly, from your testimony, you had shite coverage, and surprise, surprise are too stupid to know you had a shit policy.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@holmantx@ruddskino, it's the Achilles Heel of private, for profit insurance policies, which ACA doubles down on.  ACA was the Heritage Foundation pet till Obama dusted it eoff.  I haven't been around to check your sophistry, you're relapsing


scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@ruddskiyou either lie, or had such a shoddy plan that it's no longer legal.  You may not know your plan sucked, till you needed it, then you could declare bankruptcy when you discovered, under a real life stress test that you had a shitty policy

ruddski
ruddski

Quite a few people seemed to have a pretty good hunch that this was something different when the Videos of Praise, Devotion and Submission featuring darling little children of those who admire and champion totalitarianism began popping up, among other disturbing signs.

Glancing at the polls, it seems now there's more people willing to entertain the notion that those prescient quite-a-few just might have been on to something.

But who cares, the NYT never returned Duranty's Pulitzer, and Supreme Drone Death Decider Choom Dude has his Peace Price on his nightstand, next to the Joystick of Justice. We're just observers.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@ruddski 

But then they get old.  


When I was a kid my old man knew everything.  By sixteen he didn't know shit.

I was surprised how much he learned by the time I was 30.

I don't think anyone in America objects to a limited social net but what is being demanded of us as a nation really is, what it is.  Social democracy, socialism, modernity, label it however you like but the concept runs counter to human nature itself.  And that is the usurpation of  the natural Law of Self-Interest.  And in a free society, people will just not labor to they are being asked because they do not receive the direct benefit of that labor.   So the next step is to ORDER them to do so, which is what the ACA has done. 

Ultimately, hard men with guns will have to enforce it.  So it really is a loss of freedom and a very real form of human bondage.

These are interesting times.

Governance is a cycle.  A racket.  I suppose we all have to go through it before we figure out what happened.

ruddski
ruddski

@holmantx

There was a fairly recent study/poll that showed a disturbing percentage of young people with the greatest research tool in history at their fingertips believe the phrase you cite was in the Constitution.

Any guesses who that disturbing and ignorant percentage voted for?

ruddski
ruddski

@Dub919

The montrusses pay less because they have the need, the ruddskis pay more because they have the ability.

It's called redistribution, or as Obama put it "...spread the wealth around".

You don't have to label that as socialist policy, but it sure does quack like a duck, so I do.

Dub919
Dub919

@ruddski  "Remember, it's not Socialized Medicine, it's just socialism."


Please, show your work.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@ruddski 

If idiocy is a covered affliction under the ACA, then the Lemmings around here will get their place in Capistrano at government expense.

As for you and I, if these reality deniers get their way, an island in the San Francisco Bay will be our designated colony.

ruddski
ruddski

"So why sign up and pay until you need it?

Which is one of the ACA's many Achilles Heels."

I brought that up here over a year ago, and was assured by experts that that idea was just plain silly, because I was an idiot.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@ruddski 


And, of course, it's not insurance.  It is an Entitlement.

No risk pools and no one can be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

So why sign up and pay until you need it?

Which is one of the ACA's many Achilles Heels. 

ruddski
ruddski

I'm so glad for you, the law works for some, as it was intended. Maybe my big jump in premiums and doubled deductible helped subsidize you. You're welcome!

Remember, it's not Socialized Medicine, it's just socialism.

As for those for whom the law doesn't work, and say so - like that 57% of mellennials in the cited poll - should they go fuck themselves as well?

monstruss
monstruss

@holmantx @ruddski I'm in my 20's, and I got affordable healthcare for the first time in four years last year. Go fuck yourself. 

ruddski
ruddski

Lower-level lib advocacy and entertainment journolistos will probably report that the grain harvest has exceeded quotas. I think Big a Media is turning on Mr Transparency.

The majority of Harvard-polled millennials rate him a poor performer now, a greater majority doesn't like the law. Either these low-info mushies have woken up, or they became racist virtually overnight.

Very entertaining.

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