CBS News highlighted the complaints of a man upset with Affordable Care Act provisions that require all insurance plans to provide maternity care coverage, a reliance on anecdotal journalism that omitted the important benefits this coverage could provide -- like ending gender discrimination in the insurance marketplace and improving the nation's sub-par infant mortality rate.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all insurance plans, private and employer-based, to cover maternity and newborn care, one of the law's 10 categories of 'essential health benefits' that every policy must include.
CBS Evening News chose to present the impact of this mandatory maternity coverage as a superfluous benefit on its October 28 broadcast. Rather than interviewing a beneficiary of the coverage or a health expert who could discuss the motivation behind the requirement, CBS highlighted a male realtor upset that his plan included such benefits.
Correspondent Dean Reynolds introduced Aaron Galvin as a realtor whose old insurance plan did not provide the minimum level of benefits required by the ACA, and as such, he had to sign up for a new plan that did. Reynolds reported that, "It's a new plan he didn't want, with some basic but required coverage, like maternity care, he doesn't need. Galvin and his wife don't plan on having more babies."
The ACA's maternity care requirement puts an end to insurance companies' systemic discrimination against women -- many companies charge women higher rates than men for the same plans and deny coverage or increase premiums for women who become pregnant, actions which the law now prohibits. Without the ACA's mandate, only 12 percent of individual market plans currently cover maternity care, according to the National Women's Law Center. This is a shockingly expensive loophole, as the cost of maternity care and delivery can reach $25,000.
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The CBS Evening News devoted five minutes, in two segments, to the back-and-forth between the campaigns of Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama over Obama's September 9 "lipstick" remark and other McCain attacks before CBS White House correspondent Bill Plante reported of the "lipstick" comments: "The facts: Obama had not mentioned Palin. He was focused on the central argument of his campaign -- that McCain's policies would be no different than President Bush's."
The CBS Evening News aired a clip of an attack ad against Sen. Barack Obama in which the narrator says, "Obama was enrolled in school as a Muslim while living in Indonesia." Nowhere did the report note that Obama is in fact not a Muslim but, rather, a practicing Christian.
All three network evening newscasts misrepresented retired Gen. Wesley Clark's comments about Sen. John McCain on Face The Nation, with none noting that Clark praised McCain as a "hero" for his Vietnam war service. ABC's David Wright asserted that McCain's experience as a POW made Clark's comments "especially provocative." CBS' Dean Reynolds falsely suggested that Clark had questioned McCain's patriotism and had "critici[zed]" McCain's "service, including five years as a POW." And NBC's Brian Williams falsely suggested that Clark had impugned McCain's "war record."
Numerous media outlets have reported all or part of Sen. John McCain's statement rebuking Sen. Barack Obama for his decision to forgo public financing in the general election without mentioning that during the primary, McCain signed a loan that could have forced him to remain in the race -- even if he had no chance of winning -- in order to be eligible for public matching funds to repay the loan.