Lies, Lies And More Lies: How The Media Covered Two Romney Falsehoods

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[The Media]

Two recent falsehoods from the Mitt Romney campaign have received media attention: the false claim that President Obama removed the work requirement from welfare, and the false claim that the health care reform bill "cuts" $716 billion from Medicare.

While many mainstream media outlets debunked the false claims in much of their coverage, several -- particularly Fox News and The Wall Street Journal -- repeatedly failed to debunk the falsehoods.

Romney Makes Welfare, Medicare Claims That Fact-Checkers Rate As False
Romney Ad: "Under Obama's [Welfare] Plan, You Wouldn't Have To Work ... They Just Send You Your Welfare Check." A Romney ad released on August 6 claimed that "on July 12, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements. Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check, and 'welfare to work' goes back to being plain old welfare"

PolitiFact Rates Romney Ad's Claim "Pants On Fire." In an August 7 post, PolitiFact noted that the July 12 memo from the Department of Health and Human Services was intended "to give states more flexibility in meeting those [work] requirements" of the welfare program. The post called Romney's ad "a drastic distortion of the planned changes" and concluded:

By granting waivers to states, the Obama administration is seeking to make welfare-to-work efforts more successful, not end them. What's more, the waivers would apply to individually evaluated pilot programs -- HHS is not proposing a blanket, national change to welfare law.

The ad tries to connect the dots to reach this zinger: "They just send you your welfare check." The HHS memo in no way advocates that practice. In fact, it says the new policy is "designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families."

Romney Claims Obama "Has Cut Medicare Funding By $700 Billion." During his August 11 remarks in Norfolk, Virginia, announcing his selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney said that he and Ryan would "preserve and protect Medicare and Social Security" "[u]nlike the current president who has cut Medicare funding by $700 billion."

PolitiFact Rates Romney's Claim "Mostly False." In an August 15 post, PolitiFact rated as "mostly false" Romney's claim on CBS' 60 Minutes that Obama "robbed Medicare" of "$716 billion." PolitiFact wrote that "[n]either Obama nor his health care law literally cut a dollar amount from the Medicare program's budget" and continued:

Rather, the health care law instituted a number of changes to try to bring down future health care costs in the program. At the time the law was passed, those reductions amounted to $500 billion over the next 10 years.

What kind of spending reductions are we talking about? They were mainly aimed at insurance companies and hospitals, not beneficiaries. The law makes significant reductions to Medicare Advantage, a subset of Medicare plans run by private insurers. Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, and the idea was that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But in recent years the plans have actually cost more than traditional Medicare. So the health care law scales back the payments to private insurers.[...]

The only element of truth here is that the health care law seeks to reduce future Medicare spending, and the tally of those cost reductions over the next 10 years is $716 billion. The money wasn't "robbed," however, and other presidents have made similar reductions to the Medicare program

CNN, MSNBC Debunked Romney's Welfare Claim In Most Segments; Fox News Did Not. Media Matters examined how CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, and the print outlets discussed below treated Romney's false claim about Obama removing the work requirement from welfare between the day Romney's ad was released, August 6, and August 26. CNN debunked the claim in 69 percent of its segments that mentioned it, and MSNBC debunked the claim in 87 percent of such segments. Fox News, however, debunked the claim in only 17 percent of such segments.

For more on this review please see

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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