Jon N. Hall @ American Thinker:
It used to be standard practice in journalism to corroborate. A responsible news outfit would get a second source (at the very least) to back up a story, and a good reporter would try to get it straight from the horse’s mouth. This standard practice is slipping away in today’s corrupt media environment. In contemporary journalism, if a factoid is being repeated by enough outlets, it’s permissible to repeat an inaccuracy.
A recent example of a factoid (i.e., a spurious “fact”) that the media continues to circulate comes straight from New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof. In his October 12 column “A Possibly Fatal Mistake,” Kristof wrote:
President Obama’s care plan addresses this problem inelegantly, by forcing people like Scott to buy insurance beginning in 2014. Some will grumble about the “mandate” […] Obamacare does address these problems, albeit in a complex and intrusive way, forcing people by a mandate to get insurance.
Notice the date of Kristof’s column: three and a half months after the Supreme Court handed down its ruling on ObamaCare. Despite having plenty of time to read the Court’s opinion, Kristof asserts that ObamaCare forces people to buy insurance — precisely what the Court found to be unconstitutional.The November 18 Sunday morning editorial in the print version of the Kansas City Star began with this: “The U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the individual insurance mandate in President Barack Obama’s health reform law…”
It should be noted that the term “individual mandate” does not appear in the textof the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare. What that term refers to is “the requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage,” which ObamaCare foisted upon the individual. The explanation for the mandate begins on page 143 (PDF 162). Congress used the Commerce Clause to justify the mandate, and the Court found that unconstitutional. Yet, nearly five months after the decision, America’s media, including my hometown newspaper, the Star, continues to misreport on this landmark case.
It is very significant that the Court found that the Commerce Clause cannot justify the “individual mandate,” for on page 43 (PDF 49) of the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts writes (italics added):
Third, although the breadth of Congress’s power to tax is greater than its power to regulate commerce, the taxing power does not give Congress the same degree of control over individual behavior. Once we recognize that Congress may regulate a particular decision under the Commerce Clause, the Federal Government can bring its full weight to bear. Congress may simply command individuals to do as it directs. An individual who disobeys may be subjected to criminal sanctions. Those sanctions can include not only fines and imprisonment, but all the attendant consequences of being branded a criminal: deprivation of otherwise protected civil rights, such as the right to bear arms or vote in elections; loss of employment opportunities; social stigma; and severe disabilities in other controversies, such as custody or immigration disputes.
If Roberts is correct in all that, Americans should be thankful that he drew the line on Congress’s expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause. But Roberts allowed ObamaCare to stand. And he did that by transforming the penalty for not owning health insurance into a tax. That tax has been dubbed the “ObamaTax,” but it really should be called the “RobertsTax.”