Melinda Deslatte And Michelle Milhollon Totally Misquote Vitter On Medicaid Expansion

Sen. David Vitter was the entree at the Baton Rouge Press Club today, and he offered up a wide-ranging presentation on Louisiana issues – including a few jabs at Gov. Bobby Jindal – in pursuit of the gold medal in next year’s Louisiana governor’s race.

“I will lead. I’m not running for governor as a stepping stone,” he said. “I’m not even running to gain a cameo appearance on ‘Duck Dynasty,’ as intensely jealous as I am of that.”

Vitter has said the governorship of Louisiana would be his last political job, which seems like good politics since Jindal’s impending 2016 run has been a source for sore heads in Louisiana for quite some time.

But while much of what Vitter said was savvy messaging, it still didn’t save him from some absolute journalistic malpractice on the part of a couple of reporters in attendance.

The Associated Press’ Melinda Deslatte led her piece on Vitter’s appearance with something that was completely different from what he said.

The headline:

Vitter says he’d consider Medicaid expansion

And the lede:

Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter on Monday left open the possibility of expanding Louisiana’s Medicaid program to cover more of the working poor.

Vitter, a candidate for governor and ardent critic of the health overhaul championed by President Barack Obama, said he’s not opposed to accepting the billions of federal dollars if Louisiana can improve the performance of its Medicaid program rather than expand “a pretty broken system.”

“We need to improve and reform Medicaid, and I want to look at everything that could be brought to bear to do that. Now, could more federal resources help to do that? They could, if it’s done right and if it’s done in a constructive way,” he told the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

He said the expansion must not draw state resources away from other spending priorities like higher education, nor build “disincentives for able-bodied folks to work.”

Not to be outdone, the Baton Rouge Advocate’s Michelle Milhollon echoed Deslatte’s reporting:

Then Vitter opened the door for Medicaid expansion — something over which Jindal and Democrats have bitterly sparred. Jindal refuses to accept the expansion, saying it would be too costly in the long run for the state to make thousands more people eligible for the Medicaid program that provides health care to the poor. Democrats argue the expansion would benefit working poor families.

Unlike Jindal, Vitter didn’t offer a firm “No” to Medicaid expansion. He offered several conditions that would have to be met, including significant improvement and reform to the program as well as assurance that it wouldn’t push more resources away from areas such as higher education.

And yes, the Times-Picayune’s Julia O’Donoghue did just as lousy a job reporting the story…

One significant difference between the two men might be how they approach the state’s health care needs. Vitter said he isn’t ruling out accepting federal funding to expand the Medicaid program in Louisiana.

The senator would want to overhaul and change the way Medicaid works in the state before agreeing to the expansion. But Vitter might be willing to take federal money to enroll more people in the government-run health care program.

And because of Milhollon’s, Deslatte’s and O’Donoghue’s reporting, it’s now everywhere – and particularly at left-wing sites like Vox – that Vitter is for expanding Medicaid. The further away from the initial inaccurate reporting, the funnier it gets – for example, did you know Vitter is running against Jindal next year?

So for everybody’s information – no, David Vitter is not for expanding Medicaid. That’s what’s known as crappy journalism, and reportorial malfeasance.

When David Vitter trashes Medicaid as a failed program which serves as a money sink for state and federal treasuries while doing a lousy job of serving its clientele, and explaining that those reasons are why he wouldn’t support Democrat efforts to expand Medicaid in Louisiana, that does NOT mean he’s looking to expand it.

Luke Bolar, his spokesman, had this to say:

“The only way Senator Vitter would ever consider any expansion is if it fundamentally reformed the program, did not continue to drain state dollars way from higher ed, and did not provide additional disincentives for able-bodied folks to work, all factors he laid out clearly.”

Feel free to watch this. It’s Vitter and Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders debating Medicaid expansion on CNN in November of last year. You might want to go to Vermont and bash Sanders’ head in for his rude interruptions, but you can pretty clearly tell Vitter isn’t for expanding Medicaid because he thinks it costs too much and does a lousy job providing health care (where he can get a word in edgewise, that is)…

Three other points to make about this mess…

First, Vitter is going to put out a statement tomorrow or the next day explaining that no, he’s not for expanding Medicaid, that Medicaid sucks and it needs to be completely revamped and made a lot more effective and cost-efficient before anybody could even think about throwing more good money after bad where it’s concerned and that before anybody would bring a Medicaid expansion bill that he wouldn’t do everything he could do to kill as governor they’d need to propose essentially blowing up the program and starting over.

And when he puts that statement out, these same Woodwards-and-Bernsteins-in-skirts will report it as “walking back his statement” or “crawfishing,” and the Louisiana Democrat Party and various other left-wing sites will jump on it and call Vitter a flip-flopper.

Second, this is how it works. Ninety percent of the reasons why conservatives think Republican politicians are RINO’s comes from garbage just like this – they get asked a question, they try to give a detailed answer and what they say is then twisted beyond recognition into a misquote which casts their stance as precisely the opposite of what it is, and worse, the opposite of what they just said it is. From now on, if you’re running a Republican for office and somebody from the “mainstream media” wants an interview, record video of the encounter yourself and be ready to upload it to YouTube at precisely the same time their reporting hits the wires – because much of the time you’ll catch them in a provable lie.

Incidentally, you want to know why the Left won’t shut up about how inflexible the GOP is and why everything coming out of the mouths of Republican politicians sounds to them like mindless dogma? This is why. When you can’t give detailed, thought-out answers containing the rationale for your position without the “objective” press bending you over like Deslatte, Milhollon and O’Donoghue did to Vitter today, it’s safer and easier just to give pat, talking-points answers to every question. Every political consultant in the country would have counseled Vitter to just give a straight “no” on Medicaid expansion and not even bother telling the Louisiana Democrat Party mouthpieces in the audience any more than that.

And third, is it any surprise that Louisiana Democrat Party chair, state senator and Medicaid expansion pimp Karen Carter Peterson was sitting next to Melinda Deslatte and feeding her the Democrat spin while Vitter was giving his talk? Here’s what Deslatte wrote about Peterson’s reaction…

“We welcome the senator to the conversation about covering more than 240,000 uninsured Louisianians. It’s a shame that he waited until after (the legislative) session to make his opinions known,” state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, chairwoman of the Louisiana Democratic Party, said in a written statement.

That’s in the fifth paragraph of the AP report, as if anybody really cares what Karen Carter Peterson thinks.

We can probably sum up this idiocy with a movie clip we think is appropriate to describe it for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that it precisely describes the left-leaning reporters’ wishcasting of Vitter’s statements.



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