Jun
28
2011

CBS Skips Bachmann Factcheck

Website notes inaccuracy, but viewers left in dark

CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer seemed well-prepared for his June 26 interview with Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. But he didn't go nearly far enough in challenging Bachmann's misinformation.

On the program Schieffer told the Minnesota representative: "A lot of your critics say you have been very fast and loose with the truth. You know, PolitiFact, which is a website that won a Pulitzer, did an analysis of 23 statements that you made recently. Of these 23, only one they said was completely true."

Unfortunately, Bachmann had already re-told one of those falsehoods--and Schieffer did little to correct the record. Speaking about the new healthcare law, Bachmann said the following:

BACHMANN: The Congressional Budget Office estimated Obamacare will cost economy 800,000 jobs, probably the--

SCHIEFFER: Again, that is data that other people would question.

BACHMANN: Well, that's the Congressional Budget Office, that's not Michele Bachmann, that's Congressional Budget Office figures saying that we're--we have the potential of losing 800,000 jobs.

Bachmann's comment is highly misleading. The jobs figure in question relates to a segment of the workforce that, according to the CBO, is continuing to work solely for the sake of employer-provided healthcare. The CBO analysis is that these workers will leave their jobs, or work fewer hours, thanks to more attractive options available as a result of the law. Most if not all of these jobs could be refilled by other workers who need them. That is nothing like Bachmann's claim that the law will "cost" the country 800,000 jobs.

This was all covered by PolitiFact on June 14. Given that Schieffer appeared to be aware of the website's record of factchecking Bachmann, one would think that he would have been better prepared to press her when she repeated the same bogus claim.

The CBS website (6/26/11), meanwhile, features a fact-check of Bachmann's Face the Nation appearance:

Bachmann uses the 800,000 number to suggest that employers would trim 800,000 jobs as a result of health reform. The CBO is not suggesting that at all, and in fact, the report does not make any projection on the effect of health reform on the unemployment rate.

CBS should share this with the millions of viewers who were exposed to Bachmann's misinformation.

This has happened before. Bachmann appeared on Face the Nation last year (3/28/10) and touted a non-existent New England Journal of Medicine survey to criticize the Obama health care plan. Schieffer didn't challenge Bachmann, but a story on the CBS website attempted to set the record straight (FAIR Action Alert, 4/1/10).

Those efforts are, of course, laudable--and valuable to those surfing the network's website. But why not warn your much larger television audience as well when your guest is trying to convince them of known inaccuracies?

ACTION:

Tell CBS Face the Nation to share its website factcheck of Michele Bachmann with its TV audience.

CONTACT:

CBS Face the Nation

ftn@cbsnews.com

(202) 457-4481