Obama's Creative Clippings
January 3, 2008
Selective, embellished and out-of-context quotes from newspapers pump up Obama's health plan.
Obama's ad touting his health care plan quotes phrases from newspaper articles and an editorial, but makes them sound more laudatory and authoritative than they actually are.
Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama's ad on his health care plan has been running in Iowa. A hat-tip to The Washington Post for first revealing some of the twists in this 30-second spot.Obama Writes His Own Reviews
The ad flashes a line credited to The Washington Post that says the Illlinois senator's health care plan would cut costs, "saving $2,500 for the typical family." But the Post didn't say that; the Obama campaign did, and the Post reported it as the campaign's estimate. The fuller citation from the May 30, 2007, article reads:
Washington Post:The senator's aides estimated that his plan would save the average family $2,500 per year and would allow those without insurance to buy it through a new health-care option that would resemble the one federal employees can choose.
Announcer: While Iowans struggle with health costs, outside groups are spending millions to stop change, including false attacks on Barack Obama's health plan. But experts say Obama's plan is "the best." It "guarantees coverage for all Americans." Putting "pressure on insurance and drug companies," his plan cuts costs more than any other – saving twenty five hundred dollars for the typical family. The same old Washington politics won't fix health care. But we can.
The ad also says that "experts" called Obama's health care plan "the best," words that are attributed to the Iowa City Press-Citizen. We found the citation in an editorial from Dec. 19, 2007. With all due respect to the paper's editorial writers, they aren't "experts" in the same sense as, say, full-time health care researchers at think tanks or university professors who teach the subject. Editorial writers are paid to give their opinions, and in this case no actual experts were quoted.Obama Edits His Own Reviews
St. Paul Pioneer Press: Edwards and Clinton would require all Americans to have health insurance. Obama's plan guarantees coverage for all Americans but does not require all to have it.As we've noted previously, there is an important semantic distinction here. Obama's plan wouldn't guarantee that every individual had health insurance, just that everyone would have the opportunity to obtain it. Under the Clinton and Edwards plans, coverage would be required, and thus truly universal, at least in theory. Obama's clipping of the Pioneer Press article omits this point.
– by Justin Bank
Kornblut, Anne E. and Bacon Jr., Perry . "Obama Says Washington is Ready for Health Plan." Washington Post, 30 May 2007.
"Obama has what it takes to Restore Nation's Integrity." Iowa City Pres-Citizen, 19 Dec. 2007.
Kurtz, Howard. "Incomplete Picture in New Obama Health Care Ad," Washington Post, 28 Dec. 2007.
Hall, Kevin. "How Democrats' Three Health Care Plans Compare." St. Paul Pioneer Press, 17 Sept. 2007.
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