I mean, sometimes the local rags and dishes blare out pieces that are so false and one-sided that, if you squeezed those news stories tight enough, your fingers would wind up stained from offshore bank deposit slips instead of newspaper ink.
Consider the editorial staff at Charleston's Post & Courier, for example. Media Matters for America, a national watchdog group that keeps tabs on the news circulating around, just cited P&C for issuing multiple editorials chock full o' garbage on one particular topic.
That topic is the Affordable Care Act, which just went through three days of argument and review before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the last two years, the Post & Courier printed 27 complete and utter falsehoods about the Act, Media Matters said this week, with the last incidents appearing just two weeks ago on March 17.
Titled "Obamacare's fiscal malady," the recent editorial claims the White House "granted more than 1,700 waivers to businesses, unions and other organizations on the practical grounds that they simply can't afford to comply with the so-called Affordable Care Act."
P&C editorials have made this same claim many times -- reporting a different number of waivers on each occasion -- since December 2010, each time stating that the waivers came about because the Act was too expensive to the point that it was causing layoffs.
The truth of the matter, though, is that the waivers are included to protect employers from insurance company tricks. Since the Act is not set to enter full-swing application until 2014, it was anticipated that some insurers would try to jack-up rates and limit coverage in order to make as much money as possible until then. These waivers -- a "stop-gap" safeguard -- only protect companies and their workers, and are not because Act compliance is unaffordable.
In that same March 17 editorial, Post & Courier editors claim the original cost estimates of the Affordable Care Act ($940 billion in its first 10 years) practically doubled, escalating to $1.76 trillion.
What those editors didn't reveal, though, is that the $940 billion estimate, issued in 2010, was a net cost; the $1.76 trillion figure which P&C editors snagged from another document was a gross cost. Moreover, they failed to tell readers that these estimates are not attributable to new expenses; they are modifications to current ones, including Medicare and Medicaid, and are actually projected to reduce budget deficits by $210 billion in that 10-year period.
Don't forget -- these are just two examples of the 27 lies from P&C editorials on this one topic.
Older ones cited in this same Media Matters probe, however (and that don't smell as bad as these particular ones do), are still found on the newspaper's website. See for yourself; click here to read a December 2010 editorial that Media Matters includes in its listing of 27 erroneous editorials, and right from www.postandcourier.com.
Just for the record, know that I'm not complaining about everyone working for, affiliated with or even just subscribing to the Post & Courier, and neither is this Media Matters report, either. I've met some P&C staff and reporters quite a few times, and know that many are good, honest, fair and truth-telling professionals.
It's the folks who write these editorials (whose actual names are never shown in those writings) that I, Media Matters, and many more I know are complaining about.
I first confirmed P&C's policy of deliberate misinformation back in 2007, maybe early '08. The Associated Press had released a story addressing a rumor about then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton; the article cleared Clinton's name, too, declaring it found factual evidence that proved her responding claims to be true. I read that story early that morning from the website of another newspaper (New York Times, I recall).
But when I picked up the morning paper from my lawn later that morning, I saw that P&C had deliberately maligned that same story. An entirely different opening paragraph (which I can only assume was added by a P&C editor) claimed that the investigation proved Clinton was wrong. (The rest of the printed story was the same as I'd read online, but if you studied journalism, you know that most readers don't get past the first paragraph on stories; I assume the P&C editor who added that new intro was banking on that adage.)
I was shocked. I don't claim to be journalist (even though I get to relive my college newspaper days by contributing to the cheesy Examiner), but I know that this added intro, which changed the entire scope of the article, was a cardinal sin in news rooms. That's what I was taught in class, during internships, at national conventions, and straight from career reporters, too.
I went so far as to telephone Associated Press' corporate office in New York to tell them of my finding. I was told that its client newspapers can add other information to AP articles to localize the stories for their readers, but that at no time can the actual data used in those articles be changed. Those are the contractual terms AP has with its affiliated newspapers, I was told.
I then read to them the opening paragraph that P&C added, and asked if it wasn't a violation of those same terms.
The Associated Press then did a one-eighty, completely reversing from its role as a news-reporting agency: "I can't issue any comment," I was told.
I didn't renew my subscription to Post & Courier when it ended a couple of months later. Why should I pay money for news that is deliberately altered from the truth? If a company assumes its customers are dumb and easily influenced by openly false information, then I don't want to be one of those customers.
This write-up from Media Matters solidly confirms the basis of my complaint against P&C, too. These are 27 instances of complete garbage, and all on this one single subject.
And that subject of the Affordable Care Act is very important right now. As I mentioned earlier, the Supreme Court spent three days of this week reviewing it, and while many predict the Act will be protected, many of us -- very many right here in South Carolina, in particular -- need to know the truth on this subject. Right now.
Since its 2009 passage:
- 30,376 young adults in South Carolina were able to gain health insurance
- 54,683 South Carolinians received Medicare rebates
- 53,081 in the state are now each saving $615 on prescription medication
- 1.458 million South Carolinians had lifetime caps on maximum insurance coverage lifted
- 948 from the state were able to resume insurance coverage after having it previously removed due to pre-existing conditions
- 602,760 Medicare recipients in South Carolina got free preventive services or a free annual doctor visit
- 755,000 South Carolinians with private insurance now have coverage for preventive service without any cost-sharing