Skip to main content

Dear Time Magazine,

Your December 2, 2013 "BROKEN PROMISE" cover and associated article about the Affordable Care Act is just horrible. It's bias against the health care act and the President is just off the charts.

Let's go through the worst parts:

So the sign that the Obama presidency had reached a turning point came not when his poll numbers sank or his allies shuddered or the commentariat went hunting for the right degree of debacle to compare to the rollout of Obamacare
Well, Time Magazine is certainly doing its share of "commentariatism". In this article alone, your hunt for negative labels includes "debacle", "brawl", and "detonating". I'm sure you learned in Journalism school to use vivid words, but "detonating"? Really? When a website is slow or gives an error, it's exploding like a bomb?
For not knowing what was going on in his own Administration.
No, he did not apologize for not knowing what was going on in his administration. Not even close. If you meant to say he apologized for not realizing the extent of the problems with the subcontracted work to create the healthcare.gov website, then yes. Some editor should have caught this mistake.
For failing to prevent his signature achievement from detonating in prime time.
Wow! Do you really mean "detonating", as in a bomb going off??? When a website has glitches and performance problems when it first starts up, that's the norm. If you look at it fairly, you'll see that one month of initial glitches on the federal website is a  relatively small deal. The exchanges are just one part of the ACA, the initial signup is just one part of that. The vast majority of people who want to sign up will be able to, the problems are now almost all fixed after just a few weeks. A fair assessment would simply say something about "initial glitches during the website rollout", not refer to things "detonating".

Much more below the fold...

For not telling the whole truth when he promised people that Obamacare would not touch them without permission: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan."
Yes, the President said that. Had he been careful to be perfectly correct, he would have said "Insurance companies have always been allowed to drop you or cancel your plan, and they'll continue to be allowed to do that under the ACA". He also should have explained better that crappy insurance plans, many of them pure scams, will no longer be allowed under the new law. As it turns out, all the well-publicized cases of people complaining that their plan is no longer allowed were cases where the person was being scammed. They thought they had insurance, but their sub-$100-per-month policy covered nothing or next to nothing. How could the President have worded things so that they were technically correct but also reassuring? I don't know - it's probably not possible.

But the media needs to point out the truth, rather than continue the political fear-mongering. The media needs to say that these people were either being scammed, which is no longer allowed, or have virtually no insurance coverage by choice, which is also no longer being allowed. To leave the impression that someone had a nice $65-per-month insurance policy, which is now canceled, is to be plainly dishonest.

Obama's supporters can decry a "feeding frenzy," but this is a critical moment for a President
When you say "so-and-so can decry a 'feeding frenzy', but..." you really should have the rest of the sentence refute the 'feeding frenzy' claim. Yes, it is a feeding frenzy, and this article is as much of that problem as anything else.
for a President whose agenda for a second term amounted to little more than being not as lame as the other guy.
Is that really what you think the President's agenda is? Not being as lame as the other guy? How about giving tens of millions of people health insurance? Or trying to create a competitive marketplace in health insurance? There are dozens of items that you could site as the President's agenda, on healthcare-related issues alone. To claim that his agenda is little more than being better than the other guy is just a ridiculous cheap shot, not real journalism.
The HealthCare.gov website may or may not get fixed on deadline,
The site has already been fixed after just a few weeks, and the end of November is not a "deadline".
the senior staff may be booted and rebooted,
What? No senior staff are being "booted". Some Republicans have called for someone to be fired, but they do that all the time about virtually everything. It's irresponsible for a news organization to throw things like this out there. It's akin to saying "the U.S. may go back to the gold standard" simply because some yahoos in Congress says we should. News outlets like Time should be on the side of reality.
but it is already too late to avoid a pageant of media scrutiny
Media scrutiny is fine, but it should be accurate. I think what you meant is a "pageant of inaccurate media sensationalism", such as this article.
a rebuke even from Bill Clinton
That was not a "rebuke". He simply said he thought the law should be changed to allow people to keep their existing (crappy) plans.
and a host of existential questions: Can this policy be saved?
Maybe this is like a patient having a paper cut, maybe it's like a broken leg. But to suggest the patient is dying is just ridiculous spin. I know, I know, you say you're just "asking a question". But you're a media outlet. You should be answering questions, not making up absurd new ones.
What is left of Obama's second term if it is consumed by fixing an unpopular policy from the first?
Oh My! Poor President Obama! He will not be able to do anything for the next couple of years because people had trouble in October on healthcare.gov and people want to continue to keep crappy non-insurance plans! Thank you for being a concern troll.
That left Obama sounding like a disappointed fan in a bad bleacher seat watching his presidency be pummeled at a distance
The cheap shots just keep coming. This article leaves the CEO of Time, Inc. seeming like a lonely teenager with a bad seat at a concert, with a headache from all the smoke and about to throw up from drinking too much. See? It's really not hard to do what you're doing. You disrespect a respectable person by making up a negative comparison that doesn't fit.
in a Washington Post/ABC News poll, 57% now say they oppose the Affordable Care Act
And why do you suppose that is? In fact, why do you suppose that 57% are against the ACA, but 70-80% are in favor of each of the provisions in the ACA? The answer is obvious: Republicans and the media are doing a terrific job of branding the ACA as "bad". Remember how the exchanges where a "train wreck" even before the signup period began!

Yes, this sort of article may sell magazines, but is there no deference to reality at all? Yes, it's a lot of fun to read about whether the ACA will survive or not. But as a media organization, you need to balance that with some reality. You need to ask reasonable  questions like "will the initial website glitches have any impact at all on the rollout of the exchanges?".

The rituals of presidential contrition are fixed and formal: confess the sin, express regret, make amends and, if necessary, perform a human sacrifice, preferably on a fairly high-ranking human.
Sorry, no, these rituals are not fixed nor formal. The President did not "confess the sin", he simply acknowledged reality: that the website has problems that will be fixed, and that what he said about "keeping your plan" is not always true. Yes, he expressed regret. You managed to get that piece accurate. Yes, he's making amends - making sure the website gets fixed. That's his job. And he even allowed state insurance commisioners to let people keep their crappy plans for one more year. Not that that improves anything. And no, he hasn't performed a human sacrifice. No one's been fired. That's not something that Democrats (and business leaders) do. They have the person fix the problem, rather than look around to find someone to blame.
Obama has admitted ... how little confidence he has that everything will be working properly soon
No, you have your facts wrong. He didn't admit that.
But all reforms have winners and losers; throwing people off cheap, no-frills plans is central to making the Affordable Care Act work. This is not a fumble--it's a core feature.
Yes! Exactly! If you understand this, then why have you been framing things in such a negative light? Don't say "the President didn't tell the whole truth", say "the President said you can keep your plan, but should have added that's only true for reasonable plans".
Obama had to reverse course...He announced that the canceled policies could be extended for one more year
That's not "reversing course".
"If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor." Obama has dropped that from his script as insurers from Indiana to California cut the number of in-network doctors and hospitals in order to hold premiums down.
Yes, again the President should have worded it better. After all, if your doctor dies or retires, you can't keep seeing him - so why is the President promising that you can? Well, because he's not promising that at all, he's just wording it badly. What he means to say is that the ACA won't affect which doctor you can see, which is true. And it seems to me that any reasonable person would understand that's what he meant.
"There is no doubt that Obamacare is going to cost more for small businesses," says David Hogberg, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. A recent poll by Public Opinion Strategies found that 28% of businesses with 40 to 500 employees plan to drop health care coverage by 2015 because of "sticker shock," Hogberg says. "When you start forcing insurers to cover various benefits, that's inevitably going to increase the costs."
How can you just leave it at that without mentioning the obvious upside? That people will now be able to get their own insurance that's a) better (has those minimum benefits) b) cheaper (because of the free-market of the exchanges and subsidies), and c) not tied to the employer, so they can keep it if they lose their job or change jobs.

It's as if you were to quote someone saying that a new law requiring seatbelts in cars will increase car prices, without even mentioning any benefit. Why do you do that?

In any given year, there is a huge amount of change and churn in the marketplace...
Strange. You have these few well-informed, reasonably-framed paragraphs in the middle of an otherwise horrendous article. Please take the person who wrote this paragraph (and similar ones) and put her in charge.
As a candidate, Obama disdained the game of politics
Please don't do that - that thing where you guess what the President is thinking. You have no special insight into whether Obama "disdained" anything.
He ran more as magician than manager: ...
If you're going to say something like that, you better be able to back it up. And you don't. Nothing you say here points to any "magician-like" approach.
Some Democrats insist that they have a year to get this right and that they can frame the elections in November 2014 as being about Republicans' continued efforts to undermine the health care law. But that smacks of spin...
That's not spin at all. The Republican's are very explicit that they are attempting to undermine the health care law. To point that out is not spin, it's reality. What's "spin" is to frame things as "so-and-so insists...but...". You're making it seem as if whoever is "insisting" is not correct. But in this case, it is correct: we do have a year to get this right, and Democracts can frame the elections about whatever they want.
if the website is not fixed by the next deadline, Nov. 30
"Next?" was their a previous "deadline" that was (presumably) missed?
if more people find their premiums going up in January
People's premiums will continue to go up, as they have for decades. No one is promising otherwise.
says one party operative working on 2014 races. "The bigger problem than the substance of the health care debate, which candidates individually should be able to neutralize, is a Democratic Party that seems incompetent, dithering and weak."
Great. An anonymous quote that puts the Democratic party in a negative light. We really could use some sort of independent verification system for stuff like this. Given the rest of this article, I honestly don't trust that that quote is even accurate. Even so, why not be fair-and-balanced and include a quote going the other way. Here, I'll make one up for you: "While Democracts may seem incompetent for trying to make things work and not always being able to, Replicans are malicious, trying hard to make sure things do not work well."
But there is a larger problem for the country if Obamacare's ills metastasize. The glee of the law's opponents masks the reality that failure would leave behind: a country that pays too much and gets too little from its health care system, whose costs, at nearly 18% of GDP, limit America's ability to grow and invest and compete globally. Compared with other developed countries, the U.S. has more uninsured, fewer doctors per capita and lower life expectancies.
There it is again - another reality-based paragraph. Why not take that paragraph one step further and say "...and Republicans will have succeeded in keeping a deeply flawed healthcare system".
And if nothing changes, the other victim may have less to do with debt or disease treatments than national pride and ambition
No, I don't think our national pride can get any lower on health care. Anyone who's informed about it realizes that we have the worst healthcare system of any first-world country: we pay about twice what everyone else pays, don't have anywhere near universal coverage, and have below-average outcomes.

So the question for Time Magazine is this: why are you providing a severely negative spin on what any reality-based person would consider a reasonable attempt at improvement? You may think it sells more magazines, but I doubt that. You may think that you're being "fair and balanced" by sometimes being against things. But is that really "fair and balanced", or is it just giving equal time to each of the two political spins? Please, spare us from that, and just shoot for being accurate with reality.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site