A Convenient Headline Obscures Some Inconvenient Truths

Have you seen this POLITICO piece? If you haven’t, read it.

Since the Affordable Care Act was introduced in 2009, Republicans have dismissed President Barack Obama’s oft-repeated promise that anyone who liked their insurance plan would be able to keep it.

But was anyone paying attention?

For years, the media turned a blind eye to conservatives’ insistent warnings, often taking the president’s promise for granted. But this week, as health insurance cancellation letters started showing up in Americans’ mailboxes and the website rollout flopped, the GOP message finally broke into the mainstream.

For the past few years, the RNC, top conservative think tanks and several influential right-leaning bloggers have been trying to convince Americans that Obama’s claim about being able to keep your plan was wrong. A few news outlets also cautioned against the president’s promise. As early as June 2009, The Associated Press wrote that “no president could guarantee such a pledge.”

But for the most part, the mainstream media failed to aggressively pursue the story, taking Obama’s claim at face value without testing it against the facts.

(All emphasis is added).

WOW! As Glenn Reynolds pointed out earlier today, that wasn’t the Media Research Center who wrote that. It was POLITICO!

Did you miss that story? Well, you might easily have, if you’d just looked at the headline:

GOP rides wave of insurance cancellation notices

Funny, but that headline seems pretty vanilla to me. More to the point, it gives no hint of the article’s primary, eye-popping thrust—a hearty slam at the MSM for deliberately burying its head in the sand over Obamacare.

Something tells me that, of all the people who see a headline on a website, only a small percentage of them actually click on the headline to read the story.

So, if you just went by what you saw on POLITICO’s home page, you wouldn’t know that this article took the MSM to task. Because I can’t get the cut-and-paste to work right, here’s what POLITICO’s main page says about this article, as of 8PM EST on 31 October:

GOP rides wave of cancellation notices


“We’ve been warning that these things were going to happen since 2009,” an RNC spokesperson says

Gee, where did the “pox-on-the-MSM-for-letting-Obamacare-slide” tone of the main article go? There’s no hint of that tone in the title, or on the front page.

OK, let’s look at the URL. Americans are getting more and more tech-savvy. And, tech-savvy writers put useful descriptions into their URLs. Maybe, by reading the URL, you can see that this article targets MSM coverage of Obamacare:


Well, the URL does say the word “media.”

Smagar The Cynic thinks that’s deliberate. IMO POLITICO is covering its butt, after the horse has left the barn and lost its health insurance. They’ve written an article critical of their profession, but then tried to hide it behind a vague headline. (I’m not going to fault them for the vague URL…it IS hard to do much with a URL).

Now, when people start to ask why so many professional journalists drank the Hopium (hat tip to John Kass) for five years and refused to give Obamacare the skepticism it deserved, POLITICO editors and staffers can whip out this article and say “see, we didn’t do that! We held our profession to account!”

But, if they really wanted to bring some heat on the culprits in the MSM—the culprits who let down those Americans who still trust journalists to examine politicians thoroughly, skeptically and impartially—IMO they’d have titled this article much, much differently.

Now, Smagar The Cynic thinks POLITICO will use this article to justify calls to move on, to other pressing issues. We’ll hear that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” is old news, that’s already been hashed over, and it’s time to move on to the next big story.

Maybe Kathleen Sebilius will get a new puppy!