Apparently, it's puff profile day at the Politico

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

First Amity Shlaes, now this. Richard Scott couldn't have asked for a better profile than the one Politico gave him today.

Start with the warm-and-fuzzy headline: "A conservative health care champion."

It gets worse from there.

Politico doesn't quote any progressives, or anyone who favors a public heath care plan, or anyone who disagrees with Richard Scott in any way. The article does paraphrase public plan advocates - but in doing so, weakens their arguments. After noting that Scott plans on releasing a film showing "people [negatively] affected by the Canadian and British health care systems" and quoting Scott talking about the film, Politico explains:

Proponents of the public plan say comparisons between U.S. and foreign health care won't resonate at a time when many Americans are desperate for lower insurance costs. Not to mention, there are plenty of horror stories to highlight about health care in this country, they say.

Well, ok. But many proponents of the public plan make another, less defensive argument: That other nations have health care systems that deliver better care at lower costs, so comparisons between U.S. and foreign health care will resonate - to the benefit of public plan advocates. It's probably too much to hope that Politico would actually quote public plan proponents in an article about opposition to the public plan, but the paper could at least include a stronger argument for the public plan than something that boils down to "advocates say attacks on the public plan won't resonate."

Politico then prints the transcript of an interview it conducted with Scott. Somewhat surprisingly, Politico asked Scott about his tenure at the head of Columbia/HCA. Unfortunately, the question downplayed the problems that occurred on his watch:

You lost control of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain in 1997 following a Medicare investigation. How do you respond to criticism that you come to the fight with some baggage?

I started with $125,000 and built at the time the largest hospital company, and I did that for 9½ years. We had a great run. We had 343 hospitals, 135 centers, took care of over 130,000 patients a day. We did a good job on outcomes.

The hospital industry was under investigation, probably starting in the mid-'90s. So we ended up with an investigation, and the board decided that someone else could run the company better. So I left, went on vacation, changed my life.

That's it. No follow-up. Politico delicately referred to "a Medicare investigation," leaving readers to assume that nothing came of the probe other than a little unpleasantness. After all, according to Scott, Columbia/HCA was only investigated because the entire "industry was under investigation," so they "ended up with an investigation." In fact, Scott's company "ended up" being investigated because it was guilty of massive fraud. And it ended up paying $1.7 billion - BILLION - in fines and penalties.

It probably goes without saying that Politico didn't challenge Scott's claims about health care, though some were dubious at best. Like this one: "There are 40 percent of the people who make more than $50,000, so is that an issue? They can afford insurance. ... The people that have the money who don't want to buy insurance, I don't think you can do anything about that. " It seems a pretty safe assumption that there are families making $50,000 a year who cannot afford health care, though Politico didn't bother to press Scott on that point.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.