What happens when you put Fox News and reality side by side? Just a great example of the type of “journalism” that gets an answer it wants rather than one that’s real. Have to thank Sean Hannity for making his lack of ethics so clear cut. You would really need to be a true blind follower to look at this example and believe anything that Fox or Hannity tells you without scraping underneath the slimy surface for what lies beneath.
What follows is a morality tale of sorts updated to the technological age. On the one side there are the the people who view reality as an important component of life. These are the scientific thinkers, the true skeptics, those who hear a claim and ask how it is know or even if it can be known. On the other side are those for whom reality is a bother to be explained away, the conspiracy thinkers, the false skeptics such as those who deny the reality of climate change based on convenient psuedo-facts supplied by biased industry sources, those who hear a claim that strikes them emotionally and wonder how to defend it, how to make it seem true to the uninformed observer, how to dress it up and sell it to make a buck. Our country has accumulated a lot of the latter and we’ve paid a price in progress both economic and social.
Among the progress we have been able to make is the ACA, Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. This is a good solution to one of our biggest problems, rapidly rising healthcare costs that are driving many people out of the middle class and a substantial number into bankruptcy over staggering unpaid medical bills. It isn’t a perfect solution but it is progress. Progress, unless of course you are in the second group of thinkers.
Sean Hannity is in that second group. He is groping for ways to elevate his sad belief system above reality. Eric Stern, writing at Salon, is in the first group, watching and wondering what reality has to say about the subject. In our morality tale Mr. Hannity represents that second group of thinkers. The healthcare CEOs who are used to making 50 or 60 million a year are able to “convince” Mr. Hannity that 50 or 60 million of your premium dollars ought to go to each of them each year so that they can think up new ways to tell you that the hundreds of millions that they collectively take from the system couldn’t possibly be used to cover any of the things they so creatively find ways to deny you. Creativity like that costs money and they are good at what they do. Just look at how our healthcare system has declined in relation to other countries in the world on their watch. Other countries just don’t have that American ingenuity that drives money to the top and care away from the patients. That’s why Mr. Hannity can wear fancy suits and drive expensive cars, when someone isn’t driving him around. The ACA says that 80% or more of premiums collected from individuals and employers must go toward healthcare for the actual patients insured by the plan. Sean Hannity and his followers are all that stands in the way of them stealing your money and they’re afraid that it could all be gone soon.
Morality plays in the middle ages centered around the Everyman character who grappled with the messages of good and evil from characters like Ignorance, Death, Knowledge, Compassion, et al. In this morality play we are the Everyman looking on at Hannity as Death and Stern as Knowledge. I suppose that our perception of the message these characters bring will depend on whether we identify with the first or second thinking style.
As our play opens Hannity, on Friday night, had on 6 couples who were “devastated” by the ACA (Obamacare). Hannity asked all the right questions to elicit the tale that Death wishes to tell in our play. Each of the couples are enthralled with Death and they tell him what he needs to hear to make his case. In the background one can imagine those CEOs licking their chops. This is indeed fine work by their minion and many will fall under his spell. The couple’s stories are sad and they evoke compassion for the suffering of these 12 poor souls – If what they’re saying is true. But that queery doesn’t serve deaths purpose and so it is never considered, never asked.If you are used to hearing about the ACA from Fox and its cartoon characters like Hannity, every bit of it will ring true. There is a logical error our brain is prone to. The more we here something the more likely we are to believe it is true. Fox/Death live off this chink in our mental armor. Repeat it again and again. Hey, I’ve heard that before! And before you know it it becomes “truth” for anyone who is willing to listen to it.
Then enter, dressed perhaps as the Sun or a star or a light bulb, Eric Stern at Salon. He is Knowledge to Hannity’s Death. He, like I, have read the ACA, which makes it awfully hard to believe the Fox News take on the ACA, since the vast majority of what Fox claims is in the law is, in fact, nowhere to be found in the law. So now we as everyman sit and listen to Knowledge speak with some of the same people and see what can be seen with the lights on. Stern tracked down 3 of the couples so far and asked actual questions about the reality of their situations. Hannity called these the story the media refuses to cover. See if you can see why the media refuses to cover them. Hint: It has something to do with them being false.
Paul & Michele Cox of NC told Hannity they can’t grow their construction business because of ACA & have had to cut back employees & cut hours, to keep people at part time, presumably to avoid having to provide benefits mandated by the ACA. Important questions that the “journalist” Hannity missed: How many employees do you have? 4 is the actual answer. Hmm, the ACA doesn’t effect any business with <49 employees. So it seems odd that it had an effect on his 4 employee operation. So the next question Stern asked seems obvious, why was he forced to cut back workforce? “Well,” he said, “I haven’t been forced to do so, it’s just that I’ve chosen to do so. I have to deal with increased costs.” Oh! Since the ACA has minimal effect on a business his size the follow up question again ought to be immediately evident. What costs & how are they related to the ACA? Answer: Long silence followed by “I’ll get back to you” ‘click’ but, not surprisingly, Mr. Cox has never called back. Of course, he never will because the ACA played no role in the changes in his business. In non-Hannity reality the only requirement for this business is to notify employees of the existence of the healthcare.gov website. Write a one sentence letter, print it 4 times, hand it to each employee and he is done. Wow! How many employees can you pay with 4 pieces of paper in NC?! apparently, he had to let someone go because he didn’t have a fifth piece of paper! Truly sad what Obamacare has done to our paper supply. Or he was a stooge, willing to be used by Hannity to promote a lie that Hannity no doubt played a large part in selling to him as truth. You, as Everyman, make the call.
Next Allison Denjis told Hannity that she and her husband received a letter from BCBS telling them their policy was being replaced with new ACA compliant plan and she felt this violated Obama’s promise that you can keep your old insurance. (If I recall correctly, he said keep your doctor maybe keep your insurance company but he never said policies wouldn’t change to comply with the law) Allison told Stern that her husband quit his job to start a business and they buy insurance on the open market. They pay $1,100 a month with a $2,500 deductible per each of the insured family members. One of their children, however, was left uncovered because she has a preexisting condition. If they covered her, she said, their premium would go from $13,000 a year to $20,000 a year so they couldn’t afford to cover their child who has a health condition. Now recall that this is one of the things that makes their current policy non-compliant with the law. The insurer can no longer exclude the child with the preexisting condition. The actual journalist asked if she shopped for coverage on the exchange. No, because she heard the website wasn’t working. Will she? She isn’t sure because she thinks Obama should have focused on tort reform rather than insuring the uninsured. So Mr. Stern shopped for them, assuming they don’t smoke and that their income is too high to qualify for any subsidies. Their coverage will now cost them $7,600 a year with all their children covered. So that is a $12,400 a year savings compared to having the whole family insured previously or 62% less. How will they possibly deal with that “skyrocketing” premium. That will include, due to ACA, free preventive care, no lifetime max, etc. I guess when conservatives say skyrocketing they mean like one of those N Korean rockets that goes up a few feet then buries itself 62% further into the ground. Great example of the horrors of Obamacare.
Next, Robbie & Tina from TN told how their $800 a month or about $10,000 a year policy was expiring due to ACA non-compliance so they’d have to purchase an ACA compliant policy. They said that the new plan would cost them 50-75% more than their previous policy. Wow, that’s a big jump for them, especially since almost everyone’s premiums are going down. They lamented that it included things like prenatal care and Pediatric care that they didn’t need and would never use and they resented paying for those. (Their old policy almost certainly would have covered those also but apparently without the resentment) This was going to devastate them. So now to the actual journalist asking actual pertinent questions. The one seeking knowledge and truth and not necessarily looking out for the top 1%. Had they shopped on the exchange? No. How then did they know it would cost so much more? An insurance agent told them that. You see, Robbie & Tina have learned well from Fox News to believe even the most fantastic lies, so they didn’t think to wonder whether that was true or not. So on to the exchange to shop for them and what happens. Again, 60% savings for better coverage. Damn Obamacare! Robbie & Tina will probable be totally paralyzed trying to figure out what to do with their extra $4,000 that Obama, like some kind of modern slave owner, is forcing them to keep in their bank account! Why, no work will get done at all!
So it turns out these people are not examples of anything about Obamacare but examples of true believers & how true believers can be used and manipulated by corporate shills feigning journalism. People who believe what Fox is telling them and haven’t bothered to check reality who now come on Fox to confirm what Fox says is true simply because they believed what Fox (and their insurance agent) told them without bothering to check if any of it was true. Do you see why it is called the right wing echo chamber? Fox brought on people who believed the lies they were told by Fox to confirm the lies that Fox told trusting all the while that the true believers who watch Fox wouldn’t have checked to find out that reality was the opposite of what Fox told them and around and around spinning an ever more blinding web of false reality that winds its way into the minds of the people who stare at that propaganda channel all day. In technology terms, garbage in; garbage out.
Mr Stern concludes thusly:
“I don’t doubt that these six individuals believe that Obamacare is a disaster; but none of them had even visited the insurance exchange. And some of them appear to have taken actions (Paul Cox, for example) based on a general pessimistic belief about Obamacare. He’s certainly entitled to do so, but Hannity is not entitled to point to Paul’s behavior as an “Obamacare train wreck story” and maintain any credibility that he might have as a journalist.
Strangely, the recent shutdown was based almost entirely on a small percentage of Congress’s belief that Obamacare, as Ted Cruz puts it, “is destroying America.” Cruz has rarely given us an example of what he’s talking about. That’s because the best he can do is what Hannity did—exploit people’s ignorance and falsely point to imaginary boogeymen.”