Media reports on AARP membership losses due to health reform support ignore relevant details
On August 18, several media figures -- including MSNBC host Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Fox Business Network host Connell McShane, and NBC correspondent Savannah Guthrie -- reported that 60,000 senior citizens have canceled their AARP membership since July 1 because of the organization's support for health care reform. But those media figures did not note that the Associated Press reported the previous day that, according to an AARP spokesman, the organization regularly loses 300,000 members a month and has gained 400,000 new members in the same period.
From the August 18 edition of MSNBC's Dr. Nancy:
SNYDERMAN: The health care fight is costing AARP some members. Some 60,000 senior citizens have dropped out of the group because of its support for an overhaul.
From the August 18 edition of Fox Business' Fox Business Morning:
McSHANE: And one more note: 60,000 members have quit the AARP -- this is interesting -- since July 1 because of the organization's support for health care overhaul. Members quitting there.
From the August 18 edition of MSNBC's Morning Meeting:
GUTHRIE: And then one interesting signal, there's a report that AARP, the senior citizens group, which of course supports reform generally but hasn't endorsed any particular bill -- there's a report that it has lost 60,000 members since July 1, apparently because of the company, excuse me, of the organization's support for health care reform. So that could be very interesting to see how that develops -- Dylan.
Spokesman reportedly stated AARP regularly loses 300,000 members per month
Spokesman also reportedly said group also gained 400,000 members during same period. On August 17, the AP reported  that AARP spokesman Drew Nannis "said it wasn't unusual for the powerful, 40 million-strong senior citizens' lobby to shed members in droves when it's advocating on a controversial issue." The AP further reported:
"We take stands on issues that are contentious, it's part of what we do," Nannis said. "And because we have so many members we'll always have a small percentage that disagree with us so strongly they feel they need to cancel membership."
The approximately 60,000 number represents members who specifically cited AARP's stance on the health overhaul debate in canceling their membership between July 1 and mid-August, Nannis said. He said that on average AARP loses some 300,000 members a month, but he couldn't say how many more members had quit for other reasons in that time period.
He said AARP gained some 400,000 new members during the same period and that 1.5 million members renewed their membership.