From Howard Kurtz’s Q&A today at washingtonpost.com:
Portland, Ore.: Is there a point when the media should simply say a politician is wrong? I ask in reference to Sarah Palin’s “death panel” comment. [Some background here.] It’s an absurd and irresponsible statement, but how does the media avoid treating it as a legitimate argument?…
Howard Kurtz: Yes, there is a point where the media should say a politician is wrong, and this is the point…
For Howard Kurtz to declare, yes, there is a point where reporters should say a politician is wrong, and in the case of Palin and so-called “death panels,” that point is now? Must mean that at least some reporters have already done so….though some earlier and more emphatically than others.
From CBS News today:
Palin’s comment that there are “disturbing details” in the bill may have been a reference to her Friday Facebook message, in which she wrote that under the president’s health care plan, the elderly and disabled “will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.”
This accusation is categorically false.
A pretty clear Palin is wrong.
The New York Times The Caucus blog on August 8:
None of the bills emerging from various committees includes the kind of “death panel” that Ms. Palin says would be rationing care. It is the kind of mischaracterization that President Obama has complained about, though the White House has had little success in persuading people otherwise….
For more about this widespread rumor that Ms. Palin is repeating, see Politifact.com, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking arm of the St. Petersburg Times. On its true-false meter, Politifact says this one is so false, it rates as “pants on fire.”
A sort of, Palin’s is a mischaracterization —one the Obama administration “complains” about — but for the actual fact-checking, we refer you to Politifact.
And, more tepidly still, today’s Washington Post:
And comments posted on former Alaska Republican Gov. Sarah Palin’s Facebook page Friday said people would have to “stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.”
There are no such “death panels” mentioned in the House legislation.
So, as far as we know— as far as the legislation mentions— Palin’s wrong.Liz Cox Barrett is a freelance writer and graphic designer in Kalispell, Montana. She worked as a newspaper journalist in Denver and Kalispell for 20 years.