Is Fox News’ “objective” reporter Jim Angle on the Romney/Ryan payroll? If not, he should be. Because it’s hard to think how his report “questioning” whether Obama’s attacks on the Republican Medicare plan are accurate could be any more biased. During his “report,” Angle might as well have waved a “Vote Romney” banner and told us he can’t wait to use Ryan’s Medicare “premium support” plan.
The report, which aired on Special Report last night, was similar to one I saw aired earlier in the day. Special Report host Bret Baier set the tone up front when he said in his sneering introduction, “If President Obama does lose in November, it will be despite a relentless attack on Republican plans for Medicare.”
“National correspondent Jim Angle looks at the facts and the fiction,” Baier promised. But it was more like a look at the spin and then more spin.
Angle started with a clip of Obama saying, “Their plan would shorten Medicare and end Medicare as we know it because they turned it into a voucher system.”
PolitiFact takes issue with the “end Medicare” term (although they might well accept it with the proviso “as we know it”), but it rated “mostly true” the claim that Romney and Ryan want to turn Medicare into a voucher program. Yet instead of doing any fact checking of his own, Angle launched right into Romney/Ryan talking points:
Actually, the Ryan plan would affect no one 55 and over. Then, in 2023, private insurance could bid for seniors’ health insurance alongside traditional Medicare. Ryan’s plan would offer federal money to cover premiums equal to the second-lowest bidder and updated every year, meaning seniors would ALWAYS (his emphasis) have at least two choices of plans – AT NO COST !
That was followed by a number of experts talking positively about the Ryan plan. Then Angle chimed in, “Even now 25% of seniors use private plans within Medicare, called Medicare Advantage, because they cover more, avoiding the cost of supplemental plans called Medigap.”
Then it was time to cover Obama again. Angle said, “Nevertheless, the president argues seniors would get stuck with the bill.” No expert to help bolster that view – even though a simple Google search would have unearthed plenty of them! Angle played a clip of Obama saying seniors would get a voucher “and if it doesn’t keep up with costs, well, that’s the seniors’ problem.” As PolitiFact notes: "We don’t know whether the premium subsidy would be able to cover the same set of benefits as traditional Medicare, or how much it would add to out-of-pocket costs to beneficiaries, because the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office hasn’t released a detailed analysis, as it did for an earlier version of Ryan’s proposal when he provided the office with more substantial details."
Instead, Angle gave Ryan’s plan more cred by saying that it’s “co-sponsored by liberal Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon.” That’s actually completely false. Wyden co-authored a paper with Ryan but voted against his plan. But Angle played a misleading clip of Wyden talking about financial problems looming for Medicare in the future and saying, “I’m not just gonna sit by and let that happen.”
So let's look again at what Angle did. He presented Romney/Ryan talking points as facts, backed them up with clips of agreeing experts and “balanced” them with brief clips of Obama’s “opinion.” Instead of any experts backing up Obama’s stance, he added in another Democrat who seemed to agree with Ryan (but doesn’t).
Angle concluded his report by saying, “Since Medicare has promised tens of TRILLIONS of dollars more in benefits than it can possibly pay, Congressman Ryan and Senator Wyden argue, it must be changed in order to survive.”
Maybe Angle isn’t on the Romney/Ryan payroll. Maybe he’s working for the health insurance industry. Or maybe just working for Fox News makes it a difference without a distinction.