The angle on this one is “hidden” because the reporter chose not to pursue it at all.

Today, the Associated Press’ Tom Raum kindly donates the space below his byline to the candidates to carry out an extended argument of their own. Readers are left to referee the Your health care plan stinks! Does not! Does so! back-and-forth between Bush and Kerry.

He writes:

Bush’s latest ad running in Michigan, Ohio and other battlegrounds says Kerry’s health care plan would be controlled by the government. “Not true,” Kerry’s campaign said in an ad released Thursday. Yes it was, Bush said in Minnesota, trying to counter an issue that polls show is one of his weakest. Kerry’s plan, he said, “will crowd out private health insurance.”

Bush’s criticism followed accusations by Kerry at heath care forums that the administration was manipulating reports to “hide the truth” that Medicare premiums will consume nearly 40 percent of the average older person’s Social Security income by 2006.”

So, would Kerry’s health care plan really “be controlled by government” and “crowd out private health insurance?” And has Bush in fact “hidden the truth” about Medicare premiums? Since Raum’s not telling — although he does find space to report on Bush’s egg salad sandwich lunch order — he could least direct readers elsewhere for answers.

L.C.B.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.