NYT ‘Fact Checks’ Obama

The New York Times (9/13/09) attempted to fact check a Barack Obama speech on healthcare. By all appearances, this is in the regular, non-satirical edition of the paper:

Mr. Obama opened his 40-minute speech with what he called “disturbing news”: a report from the Treasury Department that, he said, “found that nearly half of all Americans under 65 will lose their health coverage at some point over the next 10 yearsâ┚¬Ã‚ and that ‘more than one-third will go without coverage for longer than one year.”

In fact, that is not precisely what the department found when it analyzed data from a University of Michigan survey that tracked the health insurance status of more than 17,000 Americans from 1997 to 2006.

The survey found that 47.7 percent had lost coverage at some point during those 10 years for one month or more, and that 36 percent lacked coverage for at least one year during that time, though not necessarily 12 months consecutively. Mr. Obama extrapolated those statistics to predict what might happen in the future.

Critics say that the president, who has deplored the “scare tactics” of his opponents, is now employing scare tactics of his own.

Huh. In case you didn’t follow that:Obama cited a study with somestrikingnumbers on workers losing their health insurance.That’s indeed what the study found…. BUT, explains the Times,his presentation is misleading because the future could be radically different from the very recent past. Or as Dean Baker put it, “President Obama was making extrapolations about the future based on the past. Next thing he’ll be telling us that black is white and night is day. This is why we need an independent media.”

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.