Journalists–especially in the mainstream media–aren’t supposed to run with anonymously written and sourced stories before verification, right?
Media Matters reported April 27 that Fox News was “burned” when Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier “seized on a dubious, anonymously sourced post on The American Spectator’s Washington Prowler blog that claimed that the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) withheld a report on health care reform until after the health care vote.”
However, The Prowler report stating that the HHS economic report, which showed that the new health care reform would be more costly than expected, wasn’t made public until after the vote, posted on April 26 .
Yet Kelly reported on Fox that the “government…buried the report,” and then added that the story hadn’t been independently confirmed.
Media Matters reported that Baier said (emphasis ours): “If true, this is a huge story, and just by the anonymous quote and all the things that are in this blog, it is pretty interesting to read.”
An hour afer reporting the story, FoxNews reported it wasn’t accurate, Media Matters said.
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Baier reportedly said that Rick Foster, chief Medicare actuary, notified Fox by e-mail that the blog allegation of withholding the health costs report was inaccurate.
Importantly, MSNBC noted that the office of the actuary didn’t get the reconciliation bill until March 18, “so the Spectator’s assertion that HHS had a copy of the Actuary’s score a week before congressional passage – on March 22 — doesn’t make sense.”
David Weigel wrote on The Washington Post’s conservative blog “Right Now” that Foster said the finalized estimates for the bill weren’t completed unitl April 22 and that the HHS requested corrections from Big Government and other Web sites who reported the incorrect infomation from the Specator‘s Prowler story.
Big Government alleged, without verification, that HHS secretary “hid” the “damning health care report” “until a month after democrats rammed their nationalized health care bill through Congress.”
Media Matters reported that Fox News’s vice president in 2007, John Moody, had told staffers not to report off Web sites. The Washington Post blogged that in January 2007, Moody had said to staff,
“For the record: seeing an item on a website does not mean it is right. Nor does it mean it is ready for air on FNC. The urgent queue is our way of communicating information that is air-worthy. Please adhere to this.”
Reason.com noted that the Prowler reports its sources “stand by the facts that prior to final passage of the health care reform bill” March 21, that HHS knew the bill would raise health care costs. Reason also noted that Prowler’s defense of its sources “carefully declines to stand by the initial assertion that a report was intentionally suppressed or delayed – saying only that none of the relevant data was released publicly until after the law’s passage.”