Sheppard Misleads His Flock In Fact-Checking Fact-Check

Noel Sheppard has attempted to fact-check a fact-check offered by Minneapolis CBS affiliate WCCO-TV of an Americans for Prosperity ad. The ad is a blatantly misleading attack on Obamacare and admirably, the local news operation challenged it. That got Sheppard’s dander up but lacking any real basis for his a priori conclusion that the fact-check was “truly bogus,” Sheppard reverts to telling his sheep to believe his words rather than their own lying eyes.

The ad tells the story of a Canadian woman named Shona with a “life-threatening brain condition.” She allegedly sought care in her home country, was allegedly told it would be months before she could see the relevant specialists – a title card says “Canada’s government-run health-care system was failing her” – and came to the U.S. for treatment instead. “I knew then that the [Canadian] system had become far more dangerous for patients than I had ever realized,” she tells the camera. A title-card reads “But under President Obama, America’s health care is becoming more like the Canadian system that failed Shona.” Shona tells the camera “the American system was there for me when I needed it and its time for Americans to get engaged in this debate” and the ad ends with an announcer intoning, “To protect America’s patient-centered care, we must replace President Obama.”

The WCCO criticism of this was rather extensive and quite damning[1] but Sheppard zeroes in on only a single element of it:

“The Americans for Prosperity ad is based on a false premise–that the new healthcare law creates a government-run system. But it’s just not true. The U.S. has a private, insurance-run program.”

This is where Sheppard objects; he says it’s “not true” that the ad says Obamacare creates a government-run system. Apparently so confident that his readers will believe him, rather than their lying eyes, he even provides a transcript of the ad. “Maybe WCCO needs a fact-checker to fact-check itself and its reporters,” he suggests. Or maybe certain Newsbusters could benefit from some remedial classes in basic reading comprehension.

–j.

[1] The fact-check noted that Shona was afflicted with a Rathke cyst, which, WCCO reports, is “a slow-growing, benign lesion that causes vision loss.” The Mayo Clinic, where Shona sought treatment, diplomatically notes this is not something that is “typically fatal.” There is, in fact, no waiting period in Canada for treatment of life-threatening illnesses. WCCO cites figures that 8% of Canadians requiring surgery do wait up to 6 months but “only for non-threatening elective operations.” Sheppard doesn’t touch any of this.

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