I missed this for some reason earlier in the week, but Brendan Nyhan had a point I agree with completely with regard to this week's sudden obsession with Barack Obama's old claim that everyone would be able to keep their current insurance under ACA:
Another possible explanation for the lack of scrutiny given to Obama’s promises is that the press often takes its cues about the flaws in a policy from the opposition party, which is part of a pattern of indexing coverage to the range of debate among political elites. In this case, conservative politicians and pundits often emphasized baseless charges like “death panels” or made speculative claims about how it is intended to undermine employer-provided insurance.It would be nice if reporters were self-starters who could scrutinize politician claims, figure out on their own which ones were iffy, and then nail them down. Of course, some reporters do that! But even in that world, part of the job of reporters would be to report on the claims of both parties, not just the administration. And therefore false claims about the ACA from Republicans (and not just death panels; there was the 10/4 claim, and the one about thousands of IRS agents, and of course the central one about a "government takeover) tended to drive out other reporting.
This coverage failure underscores the need for a vocal and reality-based opposition. Just as the divided Democratic opposition undermined the prominence of experts in weapons control during the debate over Iraq, Obama’s free pass on “you can keep it” illustrates how skeptical reporting depends on the combination of technical policy critiques and attention from opposition elites. If either component is absent, journalists are all too likely to miss the story.
Moreover, sensible reporters who were aware of multiple false or phony claims from Republicans would be understandably less likely to pay attention to subsequent claims that might have actually been true.
It's not just health care reform, of course. Drones, for example: Republicans who are constantly concocting new Benghazi! stories are not only failing to push the press to work harder on the questions surrounding drone wars, but are taking up space that could be spent on it.
It's an important point. And: nice catch!