CBS Affiliate's Bogus Fact-Check Misinforms Viewers About Americans for Prosperity Ad

Two weeks, conservative columnist George Will spoke of the need for fact-checkers to be themselves fact-checked.

A fine example is CBS's Minneapolis affiliate WCCO-TV which on Wednesday ran a truly bogus "Reality Check" of an Americans for Prosperity ad (video follows with partial transcript and commentary).

The segment began with a local anchor saying:

"A Canadian woman is the star of a new health care campaign ad running in Minnesota, including here on WCCO. It's is produced by Americans for Prosperity. That's a conservative Super PAC with ties to the Tea Party and funded by the oil billionaire Koch brothers. Now many of you have have questioned the commercial saying what it says about protecting patients by replacing President Obama's health care. So we've sent Pat Kessler to do a Reality Check."

Enter Kessler:

"The Americans for Prosperity ad is based on a false premise - that the new healthcare law creates a government-run system. But it’s just not true. The U.S. has a private, insurance-run program.

Actually, what's not true is WCCO's assertion that the AFP ad claimed "the new healthcare law creates a government-run system."

Here's the ad with full transcript. See if you can find where AFP made that claim:

SHONA HOLMES: I started losing my vision. I had lost three quarters of my vision in my right eye and half of my vision in my left eye.

And in order to see the specialists that were required it was going to be 4 months for one and 6 months for another and I knew there was no way we could wait for those appointments.

I started the quest to getting treatment in the U.S.  

The doctors agreed that they would do anything that they could in order to get me in for treatment back at home in Canada.

My husband spoke up and said we have an appointment in September. And the doctor put down his pen and he said your wife will be dead by September.
I knew then that the system had become far more dangerous for patients than I had ever realized.

The American system was there for me when I needed it and its time for American’s to get engaged in this debate.

ANNOUNCER: To protect America’s patient-centered care, we must replace President Obama. American’s for Prosperity is responsible for the content of this advertising.  

Did you see her say "the new healthcare law creates a government-run system?"

Here were all the title cards featured in the ad. See if you can find that statement:

TITLE CARD: Shona Holmes’ Story

TITLE CARD: Shona Holmes is a Canadian.

TITLE CARD: But Canada’s government-run health care system was failing her.

TITLE CARD: Shona sought care in the United States where she was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain condition.

TITLE CARD: But Shona could not wait for care in Canada.

TITLE CARD: To save her life, Shona chose surgery in the U.S.

TITLE CARD: But under President Obama, America’s health care is becoming more like the Canadian system that failed Shona.

END TAG TEXT: Protect America’s Patient-Centered Care

Replace President Obama


As you can see, one of the cards said, "But under President Obama, America’s health care is becoming more like the Canadian system that failed Shona."

It didn't say "the new healthcare law creates a government-run system."

Maybe WCCO needs a fact-checker to fact-check itself and its reporters.

Potentially more disturbing, the WCCO video was featured at Yahoo! News giving its misinformation an even larger audience.

*****Update: CBS's Denver affiliate also performed such a bogus fact-check Wednesday.

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Noel Sheppard's picture