The Conversation

Caveat Lector

In response to Narrative, Narrative, Narrative:

In June 2009, during the health reform battle, my co-blogger Morgen found video of Klein admitting that the public option was a "sneaky strategy" to get the country to single payer. When Klein saw it he wrote this snarky response:

Conservatives have an Underpants Gnomes-theory of how liberals mean to achieve single payer. It looks something like this:

1) With 60 votes in the Senate and a hugely popular new president, Democrats labor to reform the health-care system and manage, barely, to create a public insurance option by promising up-and-down that it wouldn’t have any government-provided advantages over private health insurance plans. This is about competition, they swear.

2) ????

3) The United States Senate votes to outlaw private health insurance...

many liberals would like a single-payer system. But there is nothing in Barack Obama’s plan that would enact such a thing and nothing in the political jockeying we’ve seen thus far that should make anybody think such a thing is possible.

Stupid conservatives. How dumb can you be?

Three months later Senator Gregg read a transcript of Klein's statement on the Senate floor as part of his opposition to the public option. Klein took the opportunity to revisit his statement:

The quotation came from a panel I did in Netroots Nation two years ago, where I was actually cast as the critical voice against a chorus of single-payer supporters...The “they” in this sentence refers to the folks who conceived of the public option, and the “sneaky” was a joke setting up the next part of the sentence: Supporters of the public option think the market will move us towards single-payer. Socialists for capitalism!

Every part of this explanation is false. The clip was not two years old, it was one. Ezra was not the lone voice against single-payer, he was on a panel with representatives from two groups who supported the President's plan. Also, a fuller version of the video shows there was no joke being set up about socialists for capitalism.

To sum this up, Klein's first response to being caught telling the truth in public was 1) Mock his opponents stupidity and deny their claim outright. Later, when this became insufficient he moved to 2) Make up a story about the context that changes the clear meaning of what he said (a story false in every detail).

Lesson: Ezra is prepared to lie to his readers about the meaning of his own statements on video if he feels it's helpful to further his party's agenda. Reader beware!


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