October 16, 2013

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Ever since a squadron of fact-checkers suited up to knock down the crazy and materially false claim that Congress had “exempted” itself from Obamacare, people in the media have pretty much backed off the claim. Each day, the Erik Wemple Blog pumps “congress obamacare exempt” into Google, and the results have generally come up scant.

Yet “Morning Joe” name partner Joe Scarborough can’t help himself. We pointed out a week ago that Scarborough had made the Congress-exempt claim even though he’d been warned against it on a previous show. No matter: The guy went right ahead and averred, “The president has given over a thousand exemptions for his own health-care package, unilaterally. He’s exempted huge corporations, he’s exempted Congress itself, he’s exempted a lot of friends and a lot of supporters.”

That was last Tuesday. In the days since, Congress’s lack of an exemption from Obamacare has become even plainer. The fact that lawmakers and their staff are going to be kicked off of their federal health-care plan and forced onto the Obamacare exchanges has been bandied about in the media with considerable velocity. In fact, staffers are facing the prospect of not only heading onto those Obamacare exchanges, but doing so without the employer contribution that they’ve been receiving — just like millions of workers across the land who have employer-based insurance plans.

Yet! There Scarborough was this morning, playing the bogus exemption card again. The extraordinary aspect of this iteration was that his guest, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), pointed out in no uncertain terms that “members of Congress are going to be in” Obamacare. Steamrolling that cognitive dissonance, Scarborough later argued: “It’s really — I think it is a rational, reasonable argument … to say if you’re going to exempt the administration from the Affordable Care Act, if you’re going to exempt Congress from the Affordable Care Act, if you’re going to exempt your favorite businesses from the Affordable Care Act, then we ask that you exempt working-class Americans, middle-class Americans, small-business owners from the Affordable Care Act. Is that not a rational argument?”

“I think it is a rational argument,” responded guest Mortimer Zuckerman. No one stepped in to challenge Scarborough’s contention about Congress. No big deal, just hundreds of thousands of MSNBC viewers misinformed.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.