EppsNet Archive: Language

Spot the Fake News: Obamacare Subsidies

16 Oct 2017 /

I read four news stories on the same topic — the end of Obamacare subsidies to insurance companies.

The Wall Street Journal plays it straight down the middle:

President Donald Trump’s executive order on health care issued Thursday marks the first major salvo in what the White House promises will be an extensive, targeted campaign to unravel the Affordable Care Act administratively.

As does Bloomberg:

President Donald Trump said he is moving “step by step” on his own to remake the U.S. health care system because Congress won’t act on his demand to repeal Obamacare.

The Trump administration took its most drastic measure yet to roll back the Affordable Care Act Thursday evening, announcing it would cut off a subsidy to insurers hours after issuing an executive order designed to draw people away from the health law’s markets.

See if you can spot the fake news in the Politico version:

President Donald Trump plans to cut off subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage in his most aggressive move yet to undermine his predecessor’s health care law.

Politico imputes an ulterior motive, i.e., Trump is not trying to make life better for anyone, he just wants to undermine Obama. That is fake. You can’t know why someone did something. I don’t even know why I do half the things I do.

Surprisingly to me, CNBC, which I expected would have an impartial, businesslike report, went completely off the rails:

Obamacare bombshell: Trump kills key payments to health insurers

The Trump administration will immediately stop making critically important payments to insurers who sell Obamacare health plans, a bombshell move that is expected to spike premium prices and potentially lead many insurers to exit the marketplace.

Where to start on this . . .?

1. The word “bombshell” doesn’t belong in a news story. Even to call something a “surprise” or an “unforeseen event” raises the question of who exactly was surprised by it.

In this case, nobody was surprised. Everyone knew that there was no appropriation for the subsidies, meaning that they are not accounted for in the federal budget.

When Obama was president, he didn’t care that the payments were off budget, but when Trump was elected, everyone had an inkling that the payments would stop.

2. What’s the difference between a payment, an important payment and a critically important payment? “Critically important payment” is not a fact, it’s an opinion. It’s fake news.

If you want to make a case for critical importance, lay out the facts and let the reader decide.

3. “Increase” is a better word than “spike” in a news story. Using words like “spike,” “bombshell” and “kills,” especially in a story about healthcare, creates a manufactured sense of danger, fear and imminent fatality.

Also: premium prices have already gone up. Insurance companies raised the premiums in anticipation of the subsidies being stopped, despite CNBC’s characterization of the stoppage as a “bombshell” (see #1 above).

4. There’s no information in saying that something will “potentially” transpire. How many insurers did you talk to? None? One? More than one? How many said they would exit the marketplace?

Every major insurer has already partially or completely left the Obamacare marketplace.

 

There’s a taxonomy of fake news. It’s not (necessarily) fabricated. It’s more often misleading content or false context, as seen above.


Don’t Stare At It Directly

31 Aug 2017 /

Eclipse


More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of

2 Aug 2017 /

“Hacks” — when used as a synonym for “advice,” “tips” or “recommendations.” Health hacks, productivity hacks, work-life balance hacks, time management hacks, stress management hacks, creativity hacks, memory hacks, etc. . . .

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To Whom it May Concern

30 Dec 2016 /

I can’t decide if you’re more fatuous than vacuous or the other way around, but you are definitely complacently inane . . .

Tags:

Lost in Translation

26 Jul 2016 /

Via Philip Greenspun:

Tel Aviv cab driver: “I told my kids that the only place ‘Success’ comes before ‘Hard Work’ is in the dictionary.” (works better in Hebrew, presumably)


What People Want to Pronounce

17 Jul 2016 /

pronunciation


He Doesn’t Know the Meaning of the Word “Quit”!

15 Jul 2016 /

Or a lot of other words . . .


Gutsy Winds

17 Apr 2016 /

“Gutsy performance by the winds today.”

“The sign said Gusty Winds.”

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Overheard

28 Mar 2016 /

Overheard


More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Full-Throated

16 Mar 2016 /

“Full-throated” seems to be used a lot lately to describe politicians and their utterances, i.e., full-throated endorsements, full-throated denunciations, etc.

What a pretentious nonsense word. Instead, just say “loud.”

Frigate bird


Fun Fact of the Day

12 Mar 2016 /

If you try to send “Oh good” as an email reply but type “Oh god” by mistake, your spell checker will not flag that as an error.


Proofread Your Own Work

15 Dec 2015 /
Proofread

FYI, if you meant to type “invest in education” but actually typed “incest in education,” which you might do because the ‘c’ and ‘v’ keys are right next to each other, a spell checker will not catch that as a mistake . . .


I can’t wait for President Trump to outlaw “For English, press 1” on automated phone systems.

Posted by on 23 Oct 2015

Does Anyone Else See a Problem Here?

9 Oct 2015 /

LA MER


More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Before You Die

30 Jul 2015 /

50 Books You Must Read Before You Die, 100 Things You Need to Eat Before You Die, 1000 Places You Must See Before You Die, etc., etc., et goddamn cetera.

Why not simply say 50 Books You Must Read, 100 Things You Need to Eat or 1000 Places You Must See? We all understand that we won’t be reading, eating or seeing things AFTER we die. Why do you have to introduce death into the equation?


Always “Ass…”

23 Jun 2015 /

Have you ever noticed in your inbox or browser tabs how the word “Association” always gets truncated to “Ass…”? Never “As…” or “Asso…,” always “Ass…”

Inbox

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If a Tree Falls in the Forest …

29 May 2015 /

I encountered this on a web page . . . the header followed by a dark gray bar and nothing else. Is a questionnaire with no questions still a questionnaire?

Questionnaire


Why Do I Need Clean Pennies?

26 Mar 2015 /

Clean pennies


Bonified?

9 Mar 2015 /

From LinkedIn:

Decision Engineering is emerging as a new profession. | LinkedIn


Automatic for the People

13 Feb 2015 /

Ripe red apple with green leaf

There’s a bag of apples in the kitchen at work, still in the original packaging, which reads “Automatic, Crisp, Juicy.” What is an “automatic” apple? I’ve never heard of such a thing.

Hold on a sec . . . on further review, the packaging says “Aromatic” not “Automatic.” Neither one makes a lot of sense. I took one out and found that if I inhaled deeply enough, it smelled a little bit apple-y.


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