Maggie Mahar published a powerful report a few days ago on a recent Fort Worth Star-Telegram article on the Affordable Care Act. The newspaper piece lead with an anecdote of a young mother with multiple sclerosis who was facing a $1,000-a-month insurance plan, roughly triple her previous costs, due to the reform law, though Mahar found that the mother actually ended up with coverage just under $350 a month.
In fact, the Star-Telegram piece profiled four local consumers, three of whom are Tea Party activists, and two of whom hadn’t bothered to even check what’s available through healthcare.gov. They were featured as “losers” under the new system, but they made no effort to see if they might be winners.
Worse, this same article ended up being promoted by prominent Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner and Sean Hannity, who used the misleading report as proof of the ACA’s flaws.
To his credit, Jim Witt, the executive editor of the Star-Telegram, followed up this week, conceding, “[W]e did not do our job completely and therefore let our readers down.”
Overall, I believe the Star-Telegram has done a good job of educating readers about the good and the bad of Obamacare – but not in this instance.
I apologize for that and promise we’ll do better going forward.
I can think of quite a few news outlets that have run truly ridiculous stories about “Obamacare victims,” stories that fell apart after routine scrutiny. I can think of very few, however, that acknowledged their misstep and vowed to do better. Good for Witt.
Whether Boehner, Hannity, and other Republicans who promoted the Star-Telegram piece that fell short will now make a similar acknowledgement is unclear.