(Grrrr, facts are dumb — Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Colorado’s Republican Senate spokesman, Sean Paige, isn’t shy about expressing himself on Twitter.
So I was surprised that he wouldn’t explain why he took to Twitter to call into question the “objectivity” of John Ingold’s excellent Denver Post article, “Is Medicaid Gobbling Up Colorado’s Budget?”
“What’s wrong with The Denver Post article?” I tweeted at Paige, who’s the former Deputy Director of Colorado Americans for Prosperity. “This is one of the most serious topics facing #coleg #copolitics.”
He disappointed me by tweeting back, “I’ll leave the faux media critic shtick 2 U and share what critiques I have with the paper. But I thought the piece was flawed.”
I eventually got more details on Paige’s thinking, because someone passed along a Facebook post by Paige, in which he explained his problems with the piece and with journalists.
Basically, he seems to hold them in very low regard, calling fact checking by reporters a “largely phony” activity carried out mostly by “left-leaning journalists not correcting but counter-spinning points of view they disagree with.” (Now I feel much better about him calling me a “faux media critic.”)
Ingold’s Medicaid piece is an example of the left-leaning, counter-spinning work of the press, writes Paige:
Paige: “The ‘reporter,’ who in this case becomes an advocate disguised as an ‘analyst,’ takes on the question of whether the Medicaid expansion that accompanied Obamacare is really, in fact, devouring a bigger share of Colorado’s budget. But instead of just reporting the facts and the truth — which of course is taking a bigger bite out of the budget, squeezing dollars that could be going to schools, roads, etc. — the writer [Ingold] works to soften that harsh but factual conclusion by mounting a defense of the program and putting the problem in a context that makes it appear like a non-problem. He’s doing what Democrats do, in other words, every time a non-Democrat asks and impertinent question about the blob that’s eating the state budget.” [emphasis added]
So Paige is openly advocating for shallow journalism. He wants Ingold to write that Medicaid costs are increasing and stop there!
Ingold’s sin was to dig into the budget Medicaid numbers, instead of just regurgitating the budget pie charts.
He determined that none of the money being spent on Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion can go to “roads, schools, etc.,” as Paige wants. You’d think this would be important information for Paige, like he other facts reported by Ingold: The Medicaid budget has, in fact, increased, from 17 percent of the general fund in 2000 to 26 percent today. But how to cut it? Ingold reports that if you took the advice of many conservatives and took away Medicaid from “able-bodied” poor people (most of whom incidentally, are already working), you’d save hundreds of millions of dollars out of a $10 billion general-fund budget.
Ingold tells us where a disproportionate amount of Medicaid spending goes: “People with disabilities and people in nursing homes, for instance, make up 10 percent of the state’s Medicaid enrollment — but account for 42 percent of state Medicaid spending.”
These nonpartisan facts didn’t stick in Paige’s brain, because he accuses Ingold of doing “intellectual contortions” to avoid “reaching a politically incorrect conclusion.”
Since Paige cites no factual errors, it appears he thinks Ingold contorted by failing to report on, as Paige puts it, “the trap [Obamacare] set for the state, by creating the potential for a fiscal crisis when ‘the feds’ either can’t or won’t continue with that arrangement and Obama’s check bounces.”
All of Paige’s hostility toward Ingold seems to stem from Ingold’s decision to leave that dubious notion out of his article. Seriously? Every time reporters write about a federal program with a state impact (military, national parks, roads, BLM, EPA), they should discuss the possibility of Uncle Sam’s check bouncing?
Paige, who didn’t return a call for comment, concludes his post with a broad slam at fact checking, which is one of the most honorable missions of journalism in our age of degraded discourse.
Paige: “I believe ‘yes but’ stories, like the dishonest ‘fact-checking’ exercises that have become such a trend among media outlets, are just another way for opinionated journalists to have the last word, while pretending to be honest brokers of information.”
I have to say, I’m glad he’s not my press secretary. But if he were, and I were his honorable Republican boss, I’d tell Paige to immediately stop blaming Obamacare for Colorado’s budget problems and, instead, come up with reality-based solutions. I doubt a specific list of Medicaid cuts would be among them.