13 October 2009

Two strikes on O'Reilly

I watch Bill O'Reilly from time to time, but find his program tremendously frustrating. He rarely asks tough questions, and often lets his guests get away with saying whatever they want. Interjecting with an occasional "come on, Senator!" doesn't make you a tough interviewer.

Earlier this evening, Sen Claire McCaskill was on The Factor, and O'Reilly let her get away with some whoppers. Here are a few:

  1. "We are going to make preventive screenings free" The senator was trying to explain the many cost-saving measures in the bill. Unfortunately, nobody can "make things free." If it is a good or service that has value, then its cost will be borne by somebody. What McCaskill no doubt meant is that the bill would require insurers to pay for preventive care screenings with no out-of-pocket costs for the patient. But that isn't "free." It is a cost, and an enormous new cost. It may not affect the Federal budget, but it will affect the family budget of everybody in America who has to pay for this new Government regulation through higher premiums. And they will be much, much higher. I don't know if McCaskill is too economically ignorant to understand that, or dishonest enough to say it, knowing how grossly misleading the statement is. All I know for sure is that O'Reilly let her make the claim completely unchallenged.
  2. "The CBO couldn't score the long-term benefits of preventive care" In fact, as you would think O'Reilly would know, the CBO has previously said that preventive care will raise costs. Again, if this is all done through mandates on private insurers, it won't raise Federal budget spending, but it will raise costs enormously for everybody in America. But O'Reilly let it hang there, unchallenged.
Look, I don't mean to single out O'Reilly - that's just the program I watched tonight. But he let some high, hanging curveballs go right past him, and a lot of viewers who depend on him to help cut through the spin were let down tonight.

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