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Cartoon fish wrapped in newspaper.
Why oh why, ponders Politico is it so hard for the good stories about Obamacare working the way it's supposed to work to break through into the traditional media? But they're missing the boat. The real question is why is there such a low bar for the horror stories?
Here’s the challenge the White House faces in telling Obamacare success stories: Try to picture a headline that says, “Obamacare does what it’s supposed to do.”

Somehow, the Obama administration and its allies will have to convince news outlets to run those kinds of stories—and to give the happy newly insured the same kind of attention as the outraged complainers whose health plans were canceled because of the law.

That’s a complicated task. Loud and angry usually trumps contented and grateful when it comes to sound bites, and news organizations will have a high bar for anecdotes that reflect well on the new law, given the prevailing narrative surrounding its disastrous debut.

And yet, the success stories do exist. For all the problems with the health care rollout and the disruptions the Affordable Care Act has caused, from canceled plans to “sticker shock” from people who are disappointed with their choices, there are also people who are getting exactly what they’re supposed to get: better prices and more stable coverage of their pre-existing conditions.

It goes on like that, for paragraph after paragraph, and to the reporter's credit does tell a few of those success stories. But what it doesn't do is examine exactly why it is the media has such a low bar for Obamacare horror stories. After all, we've seen a whole mess of those stories that, once dug into a little bit, completely collapse. Like this one that Jed Lewison wrote about, a story completely mangled by the Fort Worth Star Telegram easily debunked with just a little bit of follow up. The Wire has a compendium of a few of the other most egregious cases.

So yes, traditional media, be more proactive in telling the good news stories, too. But first how about trying to commit some journalism by getting all the facts on the horror stories, too.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:26 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (33+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:26:41 AM PST

  •  Politico? It's Tiger Beat on the Potomac (7+ / 0-)

    For Pete's Sake ™

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:29:27 AM PST

  •  All I want is the truth. (4+ / 0-)

    Just give me some truth.

    "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

    by elwior on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:30:06 AM PST

  •  Journalistic fraud. That is what it is. (16+ / 0-)

    Where is the coverage (much less the outrage) of the 5 million denied Healthcare by Republican governors?

    •  Exactly. That is a 'it bleeds it leads' story too! (3+ / 0-)

      And if the corp media was really impartial about Obamacare, and just woken up only by bleeding stories, we'd hear about those 5 million horror stories too.

      Maybe kos should put Joan on a bus to Alabama where she can rectify the problem by gathering actual stories. There needs to be original reporting on our side too - not just media rehashes.

      Obamacare will save me $3,000 in 2014, thank you Pelosi House Democrats

      by sotiredofusernames on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:53:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Talking to a clinic yesterday here in GA, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      it's the ACA that is hurting Medicaid here according to the nurse I spoke to.  This is GA where our governor turned down the Medicaid extension offered by the ACA.  I wasn't going to argue with her.  There's no point.   The ignorance is stunning, even among the educated and those who should know better.  

      The GOP will destroy anything they can't own.

      by AnnieR on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:41:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You didn't even ask how? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "How is the ACA hurting Medicaid?"  That's such an outrageous statement, I would have been so curious about her explanation I would have had to ask.

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 01:08:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Politico complaining about traditional media (17+ / 0-)

    is like a pimp complaining about competing prostitutes on his block.

  •  the rethugs are so terrified as Obamacare sits (7+ / 0-)

    into permanence on the American psyche as an expectation of this government -healthcare as a right rather than a privilege. Can they possibly beat this drumbeat all the way to 2014 successfully. I do not think so.

  •  They're paid to promote evil TGOP propaganda (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, politicalceci

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:33:07 AM PST

  •  A better headline... (5+ / 0-)

    Staff at Politico is proven to be vampires.  Unable see self reflection in mirror.

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck

    by RichM on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:41:06 AM PST

  •  Corporations Owned and Sponsored By Corporations (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, politicalceci

    And a lot of that money is finance & insurance.

    It's not realistic to expect much favorable coverage of Democratic success or programs big biz and finance oppose.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:41:53 AM PST

  •  Because MSM editors have health insurance, (4+ / 0-)

    and have been frustrated by internet web sites.

    Clearly they have an idea of what stories are going to interest people that is based on their experiences.

    If Hobby Lobby is against contraception, why does it buy its inventory from China, the country that limits the number of children by law?

    by Inland on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:43:00 AM PST

    •  Very insightful. Good comment. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      These leaps to "It's a conspiracy by the MSM to screw the Democrats" sound like every bullshit Republican complaint about the Librul Media.

      This is a question that is very effectively answered by talking about journalism and journalists.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:03:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  No news is good news and good news is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    not news.

    Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

    by hannah on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:45:57 AM PST

    •  OTOH, if all you heard was bad news (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      then nothing, then come voting time, what will you lo info voters remember? Ooh, I heard something about that bad law Democrats passed .. what was it? didn't it kick 500 million off their insurance or something? Oh so I'll vote Republican.

      For me, Obamacare brings real peace of mind and saves $3,000 in 2014 - thanks to Democrats

      by sotiredofusernames on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:06:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The bigger question... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hannah, Amber6541

      ...raised in the diary is why the Obamacare "horror stories" in the corporate media are so poorly verified before running.

      Unfortunately, the answer to that is almost certainly to be found in years and years of downstaffing and budget cuts in newsrooms.  The situation at most daily newspapers has been well documented, but the situation in TV newsrooms isn't much better -- while they haven't faced the same level of cuts, the bottom line is that a smaller staff today is responsible for many more hours of air time than was once the case.

      And not only is it that each reporter has less time to spend on any individual story, but also that the subject experts are mostly gone -- simply put (as in the Star Telegram story), it turns out that the reporters aren't particularly qualified to cover the stories that they're covering.  So they gather the information too quickly, and then they lack the expertise to quickly evaluate the quality (and plausibility) of the information that they've gathered.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:36:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  They have such a low bar because Republicans (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    have message discipline. Their message discipline is so good that they begin to believe their own bs. And then they ride the press from here to hell and back and scream unfair and "liberal media" every time they get bad coverage.

    Democrats, on the other hand, tend to respond to ridiculous attacks with "Yes, but . . ." or "That's not exactly correct." We often come off as pompous eggheads or, worse, scheming mealy-mouths.

    Ceterum censeo Factionem Republicanam esse delendam.

    by journeyman on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:52:32 AM PST

    •  I agree.DEMS year in year out get a "D' in message (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      discipline grades. Rethugs get an A and even with that they often lose, but boy could we win more with a more coherent message. For example, on Sunday shows Rethugs always say the same thing - even on different shows. DEMS are usually all over the map.

  •  I had my first patient express gratitude (6+ / 0-)

    for Obamacare yesterday.  She takes a brand-name birth control, and had previously been paying quite a bit every month in copays.  When she picked up her refill yesterday and I told her that there was no charge, she was in shock, and said "Thank you Obama!"  It was a nice change from the usual grumbling about Obamacare from older people (who really aren't affected since they have medicare).  

    •  I hope you correct them! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jan4insight, Eyesbright, Amber6541

      Old people vote in droves and their mistaken views are powerful. If you have the chance to gently remind them when Obamacare is not top blame, please do!

      For me, Obamacare brings real peace of mind and saves $3,000 in 2014 - thanks to Democrats

      by sotiredofusernames on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:08:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I do periodically (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but there are some people that are so set on their views (even if they are mistaken) that trying to correct their misconceptions is like arguing with a wall.  Plus, I'd rather not get complaints from customers claiming I was rude.  I may work for a unionized company, but I'm certainly not immune.  

  •  Lamestream Media Ignores Good News in Iraq! (0+ / 0-)

    Where are all the stories about the schools we're building?

    I hate to admit that I'm with Politico on this. It's on the White House and allies to tell the success stories.  (Although I also agree that in a perfect world, the media would fact-check the negative ones. But talk about a foreseeable problem …)

    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

    by GussieFN on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:55:58 AM PST

    •  You don't think the White House been telling (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eyesbright, Ricestarz, Amber6541

      success stories??????????????????????

      Seems to me that's all the President has been doing, every chance he gets and ever since the first provisions of the law have been in effect. But you have to pay to attention to what the White House actually says to get this.

      I mean, if you only look at the MSM, how would you ever know what the WH actually says? The MSM does NOT report it!

      I don't love writing, but I love having written ~ Dorothy Parker // Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet

      by jan4insight on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:15:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  but the white house and Obama are passionless (0+ / 0-)

        when they do this. Like his news conference yesterday - good photo op but Obama had his usual even tone at the mic. Can't he amp it up just a little? His is not up for reelection and there is alot of room for some soft tonal outrage before crossing over to the "angry black man" he and his advisors fear. I only hope that after he gets some things done this year he will actually trash the do nothing Republican Congress moving towards November as he tries to flip the house. If he gets a R Senate and Congress his last two years, his presidency is really over. I am a mega Obama fan, but he is not without critique.

        •  Your comment doesn't make any sense to me. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Are you saying the stonewall of obstruction he's facing from the Rs, the MSM and their corporate overlords will soften if only he yells louder?

          I don't love writing, but I love having written ~ Dorothy Parker // Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet

          by jan4insight on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:58:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You said "yell." I did not. A little more "life" (0+ / 0-)

            in his tone in his press conferences or announcements would be helpful. As for this appearance, he just got back from vacation so he can't be that tired.

            •  Frankly, rather than complaining about what (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Pres. Obama should or shouldn't do - I would rather use my access to the social media to share the positive ACA stories far and wide (as I've been doing, consistently). Bypass the MSM and become citizen journalists. I think that's a lot more productive.

              But since we're delving into how Pres. Obama "feels" - perhaps  he didn't has enough "life" for the press conference because he's sick of dealing with the jerks in the WH Press Corps. I can totally understand that!

              I don't love writing, but I love having written ~ Dorothy Parker // Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet

              by jan4insight on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 11:33:25 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, I'm sure they have been! (0+ / 0-)

        But it's not enough to tell the stories. If you can't get 'em out there--fairly or not--it simply doesn't matter. Maybe there's just no way to get them out there--maybe it's impossible. That could very well be the case. But it doesn't change the dynamic at all.

        "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

        by GussieFN on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 11:40:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wait until enrollment numbers are released (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbell, Ricestarz, Amber6541

    I predict when new enrollment numbers are officially released, it will change the news narrative about Obamacare.

    The media will take a more neutral stance on Obamacare which will open up the door for positive stories.

    •  Enrollment numbers are officially released (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      all the time by HHS (monthly) and states (whenever they feel like it) and even insurance companies (Hey! This is real money!). Our brainwrap has collected them all in a spreadsheet and accompanying graph at He recently added a page of In the News links where MSM and major Web sites link to the site. We have 22 so far. Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, LA Times, The Hill, The Wire, Washington Monthly, Breitbart…Wait, Breitbart?!?

      Obamacare's December Surge Gets It to 26% of Goal

      Obamacare still has a long way to go to reach its goal. It's not impossible, not if it keeps up the same pace it set over the last couple weeks.
      OK, it's official. When the MSM gets its butt kicked by Breitbart, we are in Epic Fail territory.

      Homer Simpson, cornflakes on fire

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:28:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The December numbers haven't been released (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        There are unofficial estimates and the does a good job compiling them, but most of the media is still skeptical of it.

        Having the Obama administration come out and claim 2.1 million signed up in December is going to have a much bigger impact.

  •  Why? Because the same people who own the media (4+ / 0-)

    are among the ones who want to kill the ACA.

    All that journalistic energy, wasted on a perfectly obvious question.

  •  It's very easy to explain. If it bleeds, it leads. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbell, Amber6541

    When was the last time your local nightly news led off with "Traffic flowing smoothly for evening commute" or "Man walks down street without getting shot?"

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:01:13 AM PST

    •  So let's hear from the 5 million led crying (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tb mare, Amber6541

      from the navigator's desk, having just found that their dying mom can not get the chemo she needs after all, because governor X from red state Y has cast her into the medicaid gap

      For me, Obamacare brings real peace of mind and saves $3,000 in 2014 - thanks to Democrats

      by sotiredofusernames on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:11:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You're too kind to our media (0+ / 0-)

      Traffic has been flowing for centuries, it's not news.  The ACA is a brand new animal, people want to know how it's performing.  And all we're getting is  the problems.   sure, that's part of the story, but pretending it's the whole story is misleading.

      I don't know what's been trickling down, but it hasn't been pleasant---N. Pelosi

      by Russycle on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 02:53:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Success story right here (4+ / 0-)

    Last year I was stuck with state run high cost health insurance which was costing me $589 a month.  I'm a 41 year old no smoker, non drinker in good health but I had a pancreatic attack and no insurance company would touch me.  In the last 20 years prior to that attack I could count the amount of times I've been to the hospital on one hand. I had a kidney stone when I was like 24, I broke my 5th knuckle on my right hand 10 or so years ago and I sustained a concussion at taekwondo training a few years back.  I could barely afford to pay $589 a month, sometimes I'd forego paying it and lose coverage and never went to the doctor because I couldn't afford the visit unless I was really really sick (like doubled over with pain from a severely inflamed pancreas).  I was a single parent with a 12 year old son who fortunately for me was on our state run children's health insurance plan (SCHIP) called Husky.  

    Fast forward to today.  I am married (very recent development) have a second son (also recent development) and just signed up for healthcare only to find that with my now larger family I qualify for Medicaid which covers ALL our healthcare for ZERO cost in premiums.  That means I'm saving AT LEAST $589 a month.  I also free have dental and 1 free eye exam a year and free glasses per year.

    So yeah I'm pretty happy and somewhat lucky.  I have a huge amount of medical bills I have to work through from my pancreas related visits to the hospital) but I can be secure in knowing that I won't have any crushing bills going forward and that I can see a doctor without worrying about how much it's gonna cost.          

    This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

    by DisNoir36 on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:05:53 AM PST

  •  The only news most Americans (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are attuned with is, "Actions speaks louder than words." The actions of President Obama and Democrats honoring every American's worthiness to receive quality healthcare resonates with more Americans than the hollow words of the ACA critics.

    A statue will never be set up in honor of Boehner, McConnel, Ryan, Paul, Rubio, etc...

  •  slow death (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    With the slow financial death of print media, less money is spent on reporting--more on short cut hysteria.  The objective is getting more bang with less buck.  The other media can therefore bullshit without fear of exposure.  Good stories never were considered much news unless it was local--very local.  
    Right wing electronic media screams and distorts--left wing media plays defense --using facts.  It's a losing battle until a left winger goes rogue.  

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:12:19 AM PST

  •  Nice Timing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Someone wrote this amusing (if maddening) piece of opinion for our local newspaper yesterday.

    I don't use FaceSpace, but feel free to leave him a note if you're so inclined.  Stuff like this makes me want to sign up just so I can comment.

    The Fox News satellite must be beaming its signal directly into this guy's brain.

  •  Media today is so full of idiots beyond (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    geez53, a2nite, jan4insight

    Comprehension. I recently got rid of my cable because all I used to watch in the past was news -- I can calmly say I don't miss the news.

  •  Bad news is news. (0+ / 0-)


    Tom Frank was a pseudo that I coined before I found out about that guy who writes books.

    by Tom Frank on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:23:11 AM PST

  •  Minnesota reporters got spun by MNSURE (0+ / 0-)

    for two months before they finally started finding people with horrible experiences exactly like mine.  So it's going to take them awhile to forget that the happy talk they got from the state wasn't matching the customer service experience of real Minnesota folks.  

    However, perseverance and diligence has paid off and some of us actually got insurance cards delivered before New Years so things are looking up.  The state is going to audit the MNSURE rollout to find out why it was such a mess so Democrats can hope that won't be political but it should be done.  

    We should demand competence and accountability and if we do the facts should speak for themselves.  

  •  Billion$$ in Anti-Obamacare PR (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    hope that clears it up for you, politico.

  •  Journalism?!... (0+ / 0-)

    We don't need no stinkin' journalism!

  •  MSNBC for TV and Guardian for Print (0+ / 0-)

    are pretty much all one needs to be informed today. plus, naturally, dailykos from WWW!

  •  I have my own Obamacare story. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, Russycle, Ricestarz

    My brother, who quit his job last year in order to pack up my Mom's home and move to GA to be closer to family as we all are getting older, got sick.  The plan was to get a job as soon as he moved here.  He was diagnosed with Lymphoma in November.  Uninsured, he was able to get treatment at a  local hospital through charity.  Before and after moving to GA he tried to sign up on the healthcare web site, and could not get on.  He finally got signed up last week.  $19 per month (as he is still unemployed and still has cancer) with out of pocket limited to $2500 per year!  $19 a month!  

    The GOP will destroy anything they can't own.

    by AnnieR on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 10:39:42 AM PST

  •  The Democratic party is so bad at this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbell, Russycle

    its almost unbearable

    News organizations don’t want to look one-sided, so “since the media spent a lot of time digging out stories of canceled plans, we assume they’ll make the same effort to dig out other people who have been helped,” said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman
    NO, the Media is NOT going to tell your side of the story just because. To think so sounds almost childlike in its naivety

    Democrats might actually be good at messaging, but they don't even try

  •  And they are truly asking this? (0+ / 0-)

    How ironic. The sky must be falling.  Or did a lightning bolt strike a particular editor?

    "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin

    by politicalceci on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 11:53:44 AM PST

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