November 15, 2013

An editor with the Associated Press last year told the Erik Wemple Blog that when it came to fact-checking the Republican primary debates, the wire service “had to have a self-imposed Michele Bachmann quota.” Said the AP’s Jim Drinkard, “Often she was just more prone to statements that just didn’t add up.”

By that standard, Bachmann’s appearance yesterday on CNN stands as a marvel of factual integrity.

Not that Bachmann didn’t attempt to leave behind a trace of misleading innuendo in the sleek CNN studio. In a very good back-and-forth with host Wolf Blitzer and veteran pundit Paul Begala, Bachmann spoke of the shortcomings of Obamacare and the sort of health-care-reform alternatives offered by the Republicans. The chatter then drifted toward Bachmann’s very own insurance scenario, and she held forth, “See, I lost my health insurance under Obamacare.”

Hey, that’s true!

And also incomplete. Had the congresswoman wanted to ensure that no one came away with a distorted view of the president’s signature initiative, she might have added some context. While lawmakers are indeed getting kicked off of the sturdy Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and introduced to the Obamacare exchange, that wasn’t the idea of Obamacare’s architects. It originated with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who, according to The Post’s Ezra Klein, stuck this provision in the law to “embarrass Democrats.” He succeeded, sort of.

In the coming weeks, Bachmann is going to have to shop on the D.C. exchange for an insurance policy that pleases her. In her CNN appearance, she said she’s not rushing to do so. “I’m waiting until they fix this thing. I’m not going to sit there and frustrate myself,” she said.

So much for one of this fall’s towering politico-media distortion — that Congress had “exempted” itself from Obamacare.

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