Five years later, only after Obama was safely elected and re-elected did PolitiFact name that claim the Lie of the Year of 2013 -- even though it dated back to 2008.
It is time for PolitiFact to do the honorable thing and return the Pulitzer it won for its coverage of the 208 presidential campaign. The lie the fact-checkers called true was to crucial to the 2008 presidential campaign to be glossed over. PolitiFact blew it.
From PolitiFact in 2008:
By Angie Drobnic Holan on Thursday, October 9th, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.
Barack Obama defended his health care plan during a debate in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 7, 2008. His opponents have attacked his plan as "government-run" health care.
"No. 1, let me just repeat, if you've got a health care plan that you like, you can keep it," Obama said. "All I'm going to do is help you to lower the premiums on it. You'll still have choice of doctor."
Obama is accurately describing his health care plan here. He advocates a program that seeks to build on the current system, rather than dismantling it and starting over.She ended her piece: "It remains to be seen whether Obama's plan will actually be able to achieve the cost savings it promises for the health care system. But people who want to keep their current insurance should be able to do that under Obama's plan. His description of his plan is accurate, and we rate his statement True."
But five years later, the same reporter had a different take on the quote.
From Politico in 2013:
By Angie Drobnic Holan on Thursday, December 12th, 2013 at 4:44 p.m.
It was a catchy political pitch and a chance to calm nerves about his dramatic and complicated plan to bring historic change to America’s health insurance system.
"If you like your health care plan, you can keep it," President Barack Obama said -- many times -- of his landmark new law.
But the promise was impossible to keep.
So this fall, as cancellation letters were going out to approximately 4 million Americans, the public realized Obama’s breezy assurances were wrong.
Boiling down the complicated health care law to a soundbite proved treacherous, even for its promoter-in-chief. Obama and his team made matters worse, suggesting they had been misunderstood all along. The stunning political uproar led to this: a rare presidential apology.
For all of these reasons, PolitiFact has named "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it," the Lie of the Year for 2013. Readers in a separate online poll overwhelmingly agreed with the choice.But the lie was not stated in 2013.
It was stated in 2008 and 2009. And her article never mentioned how she rated it as True originally, which helped win that Pulitzer.
PolitiFact only called it a lie with the president's blessing -- after he issued a meaningless apology. And note, it is the same reporter who said the statement was true and won a Pulitzer for calling a lie the truth.
Her piece on calling it a lie of the year includes an excuse for Obama ("But the promise was impossible to keep") that PolitiFact never gave previous winners. In the article, Angie Drobnic Holan did not acknowledge PolitiFact calling it True a month before the election. Had PolitiFact called it the obvious lie that it was, the election outcome may have been different.
Of more importance, had PolitiFact told the truth about Obama's lie in 2008, it may have been worthy of its Pulitzer.
It is not. It failed to call Obama out on the most important piece of legislation in his two terms as president.
The newspaper should return the prize -- along with an apology.