Even when it occasionally does credible work, Politifact, the website which pretends to be the ultimate arbiter of the truth or falsehood of claims made by politicians and public figures, continues to beclown itself. On Monday, Matt Hadro at NewsBusters noted the absurdity of Politifact's unchanged "Half True" assessment of President Obama's June 2012 claim — a claim made with minor variations more than 20 times over a four-year period — that "If you're one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance."
Two days after Matt's post, Politifact rated a Valerie Jarrett tweet — "FACT: Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans" — as "False," but made no revision to its "Half True" rating of Obama's core claim.
Before getting to Jarrett's tweet, Poltifact's Louis Jacobson even reminded readers of its previous ratings (bolds are mine throughout this post):
In August 2012, we gave a Half True to Obama’s claim that "if you're one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance." A more careful phrasing -- former Obama adviser David Axelrod’s claim that "the vast majority of people in this country are keeping their (health insurance) plan" -- recently earned a Mostly True rating.
Jacobson then went on to explain why Jarrett's tweet is "False":
... While it’s technically true that the insurer makes the final decision, their choices are, to a great degree, limited by the law and the way it’s been implemented by the administration.
Much of this process has to do with the arcane process of "grandfathering" plans that existed prior to the law’s enactment in March 2010. ...
... As our colleagues at the Washington Post Fact Checker pointed out, one of the regulations says that grandfathered status must end if copayments increase by more than $5.00 plus the cost of medical inflation.
And once a plan is poised to lose its grandfathered status, it’s on the road to oblivion. ...
... The law places grandfathered plans in such a straitjacket -- unable to attract new individual policyholders and unable to adjust terms to market conditions -- that it’s only a matter of time before companies are driven to pull the plug. To ignore the government’s role in establishing the parameters for this highly regulated, and highly competitive, industry is substantially misleading.
... Our ruling
Jarrett said it was a "fact" that "nothing in Obamacare forces people out of their health plans."
Saying there’s "nothing" in the law that forces people out of their health plans is a pretty extreme claim -- one that implies that insurers who pull the plug on non-Obamacare-compliant plans are acting in some sort of government-free vacuum. Even if it’s technically true that the insurer pulls the plug on a plan, the insurer will only be doing this because the law itself and its implementing regulations have created a context in which, sooner or later, old-fashioned plans will inevitably pass into oblivion -- as the law always intended. We rate the statement False.
Yet Obama's core claim, which obviously depends on the same illogic employed by Jarrett, is still "Half True."
Politifact's lack of journalistic integrity in not changing its evaluation of President Obama's "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan" Affordable Care Act claim deserves its own wing in an already very crowded Journalism Hall of Shame.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.