That Comically Awful Doctor Survey And The State of Right-Wing Propaganda

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

If nothing else, the GOP Noise Machine is dedicated to misinformation. The conservative media complex digests falsehoods so efficiently that many observers no longer stop to take notice. But every now and then an egregious example of the eager dishonesty rises above the rest and crystallizes the extent to which pure propaganda now powers the whole conservative enterprise.

The viral run this week about a survey that claimed 83 percent (!) of doctors are "thinking" about quitting their practice because of President Obama's health care reform was a perfect instance of truly mindless misinformation.  And the way the bogus findings were universally embraced and broadcast provided a telling, albeit depressing, snapshot of just how far down the road of pure propaganda the conservative movement has marched this year.  

There's an unsightly churning phenomena that takes place within the right-wing media these days and it revolves around the constant need for unsavory content. There does not actually exist enough shocking news and information to sustain the Obama-hating press apparatus, or The Outrage Machine. Therefore, lots of the outrages have to be not only exaggerated, but at times completely fabricated or even recycled. The doctor survey is a perfect example.

As Media Matters detailed, the survey itself was comically awful, with an emphasis on comical. Fact: The survey was a fax blast that gave doctors a month to fill out the answers, yet still only generated a tiny four percent response rate.  Fact: The group behind the project has proud ties to the Tea Party movement. Fact: Despite the hallmark claim about doctors wanting to quite because of "Obamacare," the survey never even asked doctors that question.

Any reporter who spent more than three minutes examining the survey, its comical methodology, and the non-existent link between the doctors' response and Obama's health care reform would understand that the whole enterprise was a joke and in no way newsworthy. And that's why the right-wing story received virtually no mainstream media pick-up this week.  

The only truly interesting question surrounding the story was whether conservative editors, bloggers and anchors actually read the survey, understood it was worthless, and still hyped it anyway, or if they ran with it  without even checking the facts. I'm not sure which option would reflect more poorly on them.

Nonetheless, inside the GOP media echo chamber the piece of propaganda became a phenomenon. But note this fact: The phony 83 percent story was first typed up, with little fanfare, on right-wing blogs four weeks ago.


Thanks Obamacare: 83% of Doctors Surveyed Say They May Quit

From RedState:

Is Obamacare Pushing Private Practice Doctors Over The Cliff? 83% Surveyed Say They Are Thinking of Quitting!

The 83 percent falsehood received little pickup in June and it quickly disappeared. That is, until this week when the Daily Caller's Sally Nelson simply rewrote the and RedState items about the same partisan survey and treated it as new information. 

Report: 83 Percent of Doctors Have Considered Quitting Over Obamacare

This time it broke through, and her story was quickly linked to by Drudge, amplified by Fox News and immediately transformed into Very Big News among Obama haters.  

How weird is that? In June, the bogus claim that "ObamaCare" was scaring off doctors went nowhere. In July, the bogus claim that "ObamaCare" was scaring off doctors became a conservative sensation.

That do-over aspect simply highlights the contrived nature of the right-wing's outrage exercise, and how so little of it contains even a semblance of truth telling.

Watching the far-right blogosphere re-outrage the dopey doctor survey this week, the site No More Mister Nice Blog drilled down to the essence of today's conservative media:

This is what the right does -- it's all the right does. The propaganda is generated. It's disseminated. And then maybe it's disseminated again, on a particular day, through a particular channel (Drudge is always good, and the Monday after a holiday week is good, too) -- fake news re-released as even faker news, because it isn't even new.

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Health Care Reform
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