Can someone explain why NewsBusters thinks this story damages Obamacare?
NewsBusters, for those who aren't familiar with it, is a right-wing nutjob "news/expose" site which prides itself on "exposing and combating liberal media bias". Think of them as the poor man's Breitbart and their fan base as that of Free Republic with less frothing at the mouth. I'm rather proud to say that they even posted a hit piece on me about a year ago.
Anyway, a couple of days ago they breathlessly posted this headline:
Obamacare Penalty Starts Hitting Taxpayers, Nets Ignore in 91% of Stories
According to the February 18, Washington Post, as many as six million Americans faced the “unwelcome surprise” of a penalty 2015. Of course, many people might not have suffered that shock if the broadcast news networks had discussed the penalty more. But ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts failed to mention the tax penalty in 91.1 percent of stories (41 of 45) about the Affordable Care Act between October 1, 2014, and April 5, 2015.
Of the three evening news programs, only CBS Evening News discussed the tax penalty. Neither ABC World News nor NBC Nightly News mentioned the tax penalty on their evening shows during that time. Those shows even passed up easy opportunities to discuss it.
The thrust of the story, of course, is that supposedly the "Individual Shared Responsibility Payment" (aka the "Individual Mandate" penalty) is being completely glossed over or outright ignored by the mainstream news media outlets, and that this is in turn more evidence of the infamous "liberal bias" that right-wingers have been claiming lurks in every nook & cranny of the media for decades now.
They give several examples, and correctly note the increase in the penalty for 2015 and again in 2016, before going into bash mode, using terms like "strong-arm" tactics, ranting about the ACA creating "$1 trillion in taxes" and so on and so forth.
I have no idea whether their claim that "91.1%" of news stories not mentioning the mandate penalty is accurate or not, and I have no idea whether their "41 of 45" story sampling is representative or cherry-picking.
I actually doubt that this is the case; practically every ACA-related article that I've read in the past month or so talks ad nauseum about the tax penalty and the ongoing #ACATaxTime special enrollment period. On the other hand, I'm keeping an eye out for those sorts of stories anyway, so perhaps I'm biased here.
Assuming it is accurate, however, what I can't understand is why NewsBusters thinks that this is some sort of conspiracy to "hide" the mandate penalty on the part of the news media. Not mentioning the penalty doesn't do anything to "help" perception of the law--if anything, this would only serve to piss people off when they do find out that they owe additional taxes for not being covered.
If the media really wanted to help the ACA, they'd be shouting about the financial penalty from the rooftops to make certain that as many people as possible know about it, aren't caught by surprise and (hopefully) go ahead and enroll.
If NewsBusters claims are true here, it seems to me that this is an indictment of the news media for trying to impede the implementation of the ACA, not of them trying to shore it up.
Am I missing something here?