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WaPo Admits Tryng to Bury Important Story on Obamacare and Deficit
Unfortunately for them, the internet doesn't have a page 3. Sean Higgins writes at the IBD blog:
Washington Post columnist Patrick Pexton made a rather startling admission in the paper’s Sunday edition: The Post never meant for their recent story about how President Obama’s health care law expands the budget deficit to become a viral Internet sensation. In fact, they deliberately tried to bury the story.
Putting the story (inside the paper) on A3 was the right judgment for a print publication. (Story author Lori) Montgomery urged her editors, correctly, not to put it on the front page: it wasn’t worth that.
The story in question was titled “Health care law will add $340 billion to deficit, new study finds.” It pointed out that the administration had double-counted Medicare savings in the law and once you adjusted for that it added to the deficit rather than reducing it, as the White House has claimed. This is pretty significant news and was soon repeated and reposted throughout the web.
Pexton, the Post’s resident ombudsman (an in-house critic-scold for those not familiar with journo-speak), admits that they are ambivalent about this success, calling story’s popularity a reflection of our “our reactive, partisan, hyperventilating media culture.”
You see the research was done by Charles Blahous, a Republican appointee to Medicare and Social Security’s board of trustees. Several readers responded by telling Pexton that this GOP association (somehow) tainted the data and should be ignored, despite the fact that Blahous was approved by Obama in 2010.
“Republicans say yes, it’s an accounting trick, Democrats and the CBO say no, it’s the only realistic way to do it,” wrote Pexton. So, who is right in this dispute? Don’t ask Pexton, who offered no opinion and instead seemed to want to wash his hands of the whole matter:
We in the media like the Web traffic that a story like this attracts. It quickens the media pulse; we all get a frisson of pleasure from being viral on the Internet for a day.
But I’m not sure the truth wins. The truth is that every complex law change, every annual federal budget, is a risk. They’re all based on assumptions and forecasts that may or may not come true. And when they don’t, Congress and the president have to adjust.
Well, one way to ensure that the truth wins out is is to report all the facts to your readers...