Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, October 28, 2013

Does the Arizona Republic FACT CHECK letters, which claim to be factual, before publishing?

On Saturday evening, October 26, the Arizona Republic posted the following letter on it's opinion page.
The facts on ‘Obamacare’ are dismal
“Obamacare” may be the law of the land, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Here are facts as it relates to my wife and me: I pay $363 a month for my insurance. My wife is covered at the school where she works. They are cutting her hours next year so they won’t have to carry her on their insurance. Only full-time teachers and office workers will be covered. This is happening everywhere.
My insurance company sent me a letter saying that next year my premiums are going to skyrocket. Why? Under Obamacare, the company will have to cover all applicants with pre-existing conditions, and everybody will share in the cost.
Just for kicks, we checked into Obamacare: Our premium would be $1,199 a month. So much for affordable. That’s twice what we pay now. And that is the cheapest plan. We still would have to pay 40 percent out of pocket. Those are the facts, people.
Bucky Buckner, Chandler
Key points to consider:
  • The Republic is responsible for what it publishes. 
  • Letter writers do NOT normally write their own headlines, so the Republic is responsible for using the word "facts" in the headline, and for the characterization of the alleged facts as "dismal."
  • Mr. Buckner makes a series of claims of fact. Before publication, Bucky is the only one responsible for whether the claims are true, accurate and fair characterization of the situation.
  • Claim of fact: "My insurance company sent me a letter..."
  • Mr. Buckner clearly stated that "Just for kicks, we checked into Obamacare..."
  • Another claim of fact: "our premium would be $1,199 a month."
  • Another claim of fact: "that's twice what we pay now. And that is the cheapest plan. We still would have had to pay 40 percent out of pocket."
  • Mr. Buckner closes with, "Those are the facts, people."

My question to the Arizona Republic and it's Opinion Page editor, Robert Leger is, did you FACT CHECK these claims before publishing them?

Does the Arizona Republic instead have a policy of disclaiming the accuracy of what its letter writers say? If so, that would be a tacit admission they -- knowingly or not -- publish propaganda.

If the Republic does NOT have a policy of disclaiming the accuracy of statements it publishes in it's letters and op-eds, then it holds even more responsibility for what is most definitely in this case propaganda.

The most obvious clue to the dubious nature of Mr. Buckner's claims is his declaration of intent, "Just for kicks..." If Mr. Buckner actually intended to find the best deal for his family, do you really think he would be doing it "just for kicks?" On the other hand, if he had a preconceived notion that Obamacare was not going to be a good deal for him, how diligent would he search to find the best deal possible?

Secondly, Bucky claims that his wife's employer is going to, at some point in the future, cut her hours so that they do not have to carry her health care coverage. He did not, however, mention the subsidy he will receive under the ACA to help pay those premiums. By the way, since Bucky claims some of these "facts" are set forth in a letter he received from his insurance company, did Mr. Leger ask to see that letter, to verify those facts?

What might the intent be for the Arizona Republic to publish something so obviously suspect? I suppose there are several possibilities. But it is very clear that traditional news publishing enterprises are stumbling dramatically to cope with severely disruptive technological innovations. It's not much of a stretch to infer that they publish what they believe readers want to read, in hope that they will keep those readers paying subscription fees -- and print advertisers paying for print ads -- as long as possible.

This kind of sloppy editing reflects desperation, regardless of the actual intent.

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Last night, I learned about another situation in which social media made THE difference.
By now nearly 4 million people* have watched the 'United Breaks Guitars' video that has made its way around the web and back. A quick catch-up: United Airlines passenger Dave Carroll had his Taylor guitar destroyed by the airline's baggage handlers during a flight last year. After United repeatedly declined to reimburse him for the damage, he wrote a now-famous song decrying their customer service and their brand. It was funny, justified and smart.
The damage to United's brand was undeniable. But perhaps the craziest claim to come surface during the entire United Breaks Guitars episode comes from Chris Ayres of The Times Online in the U.K. In a column earlier this week, Ayres claimed the Carroll mishap actually cost United $180 million, or 10 percent of its market cap...

Knowledge is power. -- Francis Bacon
Please exercise the power you have in this situation. Corporate media may think it is invincible. We know differently.

Call and email the Arizona Republic about this situation. It matters and they will notice. 

Tell executive management you will not tolerate such sloppy journalism. This will matter for the 2014 election season, and beyond.

Mr. Leger can be reached by email. His work phone number is listed as (602) 444-8138. 

Randy Lovely is listed as Editor and Vice President for News (as opposed to advertising or circulation) and can be reached at (602) 444-8790.

Most importantly, make your voice heard. Let the Arizona Republic know you will NOT TOLERATE them either intentionally or recklessly deceiving their readers like this.

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*NOTE: at this time, the United Breaks Guitars video on YouTube registers 13,550,306 views. In a reflection of the populist nature of social media, the video has been given 70,755 thumbs up and only 1,413 thumbs down. Contrast those numbers to the facts in the HOT COFFEE movie about Stella Liebeck's burns and the myth of frivolous lawsuits. Because of the propaganda fed the masses by corporate media, people generally, up until now, have believed in that myth.  
Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.  Teddy Roosevelt 
YOU have the power of change in your voice.

2 comments:

  1. That "Letter to the Editor" is one of those anecdotal pieces of garbage that the right loves to trot out whenever they dislike something. Just like the anecdotal pieces about those who receive food stamps purchasing Alaskan King crab legs while the person telling the anecdote is barely able to purchase hamburger. Sadly though, the Arizona Republic just doesn't care.

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  2. United Airlines didn't care either, until it got the message through social media. Please call Robert Leger and Randy Lovely at the phone numbers listed above. They WILL care that people called them on the carpet for the propaganda.

    ReplyDelete