Editorial: Trump’s op-ed on Medicare is REAL fake news

October 12, 2018

CBC Editorial: Friday, Oct. 12, 2018; Editorial #8350 The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

Americans deserve an informed, accurate and truthful debate on health care. That’s never been a concern of President Donald Trump, who has at best a casual relationship with the truth.

Earlier this week USA TODAY fostered and spread, unfiltered, more of President Trump’s exaggerations, misleading statements, out-of-context comparisons and outright lies.

Americans should be able to trust news organizations – particularly ones like USA TODAY – to be independent of the motives and machinations of manipulators and political opportunists. Citizens rightly expect them to hold advocates from all sides of an issue to the truth regardless of the opinions expressed.

When a news organization abandons its standards for truth and accuracy – as USA Today did with the publication of a column from Trump critical of the “Medicare for all” proposal – it failed in its obligation and mission while providing an unfiltered forum to spread falsehoods.

Instead of shedding light on a critical issue the news organization blurred the debate, distracted from critical concerns. If USA Today’s effort was to contribute to the discussion of how to provide affordable health care to more elderly Americans, it failed miserably. Any serious discussion of health care was overwhelmed by the serial inaccuracies in the column and after those errors were exposed, the divisive taunts from Trump’s defenders.

Bill Sternberg, editorial page editor for USA Today, took to Twitter to respond to the tidal wave of criticism for publishing the error-riddled column. “President Trump’s op-ed was treated like other column submissions; we check factual assertions while allowing authors wide leeway to express their opinions.”

Manny García, standards editor for the USA TODAY Network, said the “op-ed was fact-checked and edited by USA TODAY and then sent back for review and revision. Trump’s representatives accepted the changes.”

Independent fact-checkers weren’t buying it.

PolitiFact, the Pulitzer-prize winning fact-checking organization, reviewed claims in the column and reported many were wrong or taken out of context. In addition, PolitiFact produced an “annotated” version of the op-ed where experts weighed-in claim by claim.

Factcheck.org said the column “made a series of false and misleading statements” as well as “sweeping, unsupported attacks.” And this version that USA TODAY published.

The Washington Post’s fact checker said “almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or a falsehood.” NPR said the president “falsely accused Democrats of trying to ‘eviscerate’ Medicare” and “makes a number of unsubstantiated claims.”

A fact-check from NBC News said it “included a number of false and misleading claims, both about the Democratic plans and the White House’s own policy. Others are accurate, but missing key context.”

The Associated Press fact check said the op-ed “flubbed some facts and omitted some key context.” The New York Times reported that “Trump falsely claims that ‘Medicare for all’ would turn the U.S. into Venezuela.”

The nation DESERVES a president who tells the truth. Donald Trump is not that person.

The nation NEEDS news organizations that don’t regurgitate lies but demands the truth from public officials and holds those in power accountable.

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