Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Catch of the Day

Speaking of reporting...

I did an item over at Plum Line about a new Mitt Romney talking point that had already been debunked, but as usual that doesn't slow Romney down much. I looked around the intertubes and found a wrinkle that hadn't shown up in previous versions of the story, and wrote my item. I should note, by the way, that Paul Waldman had a very similar take on the story, well worth reading too.

But no Catch for Waldman, or for me. Nope -- this one goes to Greg Sargent, who decided that instead of just letting it rest where the original fact-checking story had knocked it down, he'd do some actual real reporting on it. You see, a local broadcast journalist had asked Barack Obama about a local Iowa company that had supposedly shut down and moved to Wisconsin as a "direct result" of Obamacare. I had figured that, sure, a company might say that even if it didn't make any sense; there are lots of reasons for businesses to move that they're rather not talk about, and blaming some vague national issue is an easy way to avoid talking about it.

But Greg decided to do some actual reporting, and it turns out that the local broadcast journalist who asked Obama about it...botched the story. Yes, and contrary to my interpretation, there are really jobs being lost, but the problem isn't the new health care law -- it's the uncertainty about that law introduced, a company spokesperson says, by the possibility that ACA will be repealed, or knocked out by the courts, or wind up in some sort of limbo over time.

This actually makes sense, because the company makes chairs and other furniture for health care -- as Greg tells it, an example would be doctor office waiting room furniture. So I suppose it's certainly possible that doctors, or hospitals, or clinics (if they do that too; I assume so), might well hold off purchases if they're trying to figure out what the law will be and how it will affect them. Of course, it's still possible that the company is wrong about the source of slack demand, but it's a lot more plausible than that they're laying off workers because they've been offered tax credits, which is basically what the Romney version is once you strip down the rhetoric.

It's also worth noting that we're not talking here, Romney notwithstanding, of your average business, and nothing here has anything to do with anything that would affect companies that weren't directly involved in health care.

At any rate, it's still the case that the New York times item Waldman and I were not happy with had absolutely none of this (and will they cover this new wrinkle?).

Also: great catch!


  1. Facts should never get in the way of a good talking point.

  2. Good stuff. I have to say my favorite example of this type of trend, non-traditional media folks doing the work that reporters used to actually do, is all the stuff that came out on the internet after dubbya released his autobiography "Decision Points". I remember how Gerhard Schoder came out and said the quotes attributed to him in the book were made up out of whole cloth, indeed the conversations didn't even happen. Of course pointing this out in most reviews was considered unseemly. I saw some more of this stuff today when the Mittster's "policy speech" about health care contained no mention of his policies whatsoever. For example, Romney said he would repeal "Obamacare" but continue to stop people from being discriminated against for having preexisting conditions. How? Well of course he never said, and of course no one asked him to to square that circle.

    1. Not nobody -- Ezra Klein noticed, at least. I'll link later.

      One of the things that I was surprised at this primary season was that there wasn't a whole lot of crowdsourced opposition research, at least not that I can recall. I expected a lot more.


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