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Fox News Helped Legitimize PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year"

Reported by Ellen - December 18, 2010 -

PolitiFact has chosen as its 2010 Lie of the Year, "a government takeover of health care." It just so happens that that mantra was adopted as truth and mandated for use by Fox News' "objective reporters" by Fox News honchos.

As we previously reported, a leaked email revealed that Fox News reporters were instructed not to "slip back" into the term "public option" when reporting on the health care debate, but to use the preferred term, "the government-run plan."

Now, in choosing its 2010 Lie of the Year, PolitiFact wrote, By selecting "government takeover' as Lie of the Year, PolitiFact is not making a judgment on whether the health care law is good policy.

The phrase is simply not true.

..."Government takeover" conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees. But the law Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market.

Nevertheless, PolitiFact noted that GOP pollster and message-crafter Frank Luntz suggested in the spring of 2009, when the health care reform debate was gathering steam, that Republicans take advantage of the public fears that government bureaucrats would manage and lower their quality of care. In 2010, the phrase was used so frequently PolitiFact was unable to come up with a complete tally. "In most transcripts we examined, Republican leaders used the phrase without being challenged by interviewers," PolitiFact said. In March, 2010, a Bloomberg poll found that 53% of respondents agreed that "the current proposal to overhaul health care amounts to a government takeover.”

It's hard to know the exact effect of Fox News' official adoption of the term into its supposedly objective news reports but it must have played at least some role in legitimizing the lie. Lenin said, "A lie told often enough becomes the truth." You have to wonder what he would have said about a supposedly "fair and balanced" news organization helping the process along.