Remember That Time When All Those Veterans Died Waiting For Care?

Dave Johnson

Remember when all those veterans died waiting to get care? At the time there were hundreds of scare stories like these:

And of course the stories expanded…

Oops

That was then, this is now.

A recent Military Times article says there’s no proof that veterans’ deaths were caused by a delay in VA care.

Veterans Affairs leaders say they’re relieved that investigators have found no evidence of patient deaths connected to serious medical appointment delay problems at the Phoenix VA Health Care System, but said the months-long review still points to numerous failings and embarrassments for the department.

The full inspector general report is expected to be released later this week. But in a preliminary response to that final report written Aug. 18, VA officials note that investigators were unable to substantiate claims of at least 40 veterans’ deaths connected to long wait times for appointments in Phoenix.

No one died because of delays at the VA. Some people died in the time between making an appointment and the appointment itself. There is a big difference. If you make as appointment to see your doctor on Tuesday, but die in a car wreck Monday, should the media report: “Person dies waiting for doctor appointment?”

The scare story that week was VA deaths. The thing we are all supposed to be afraid of and upset about this week is … something else. Till next week.

What To Learn From This?

I remember when President Bill Clinton sold Arlington Cemetery plots for campaign donations! The media repeated it and repeated it. (PS it didn’t happen.)

Heck, I’m old enough to remember when Clinton held up air traffic to get a $500 haircut on a runway. In May, 2003, FAXes started to arrive at major media outlets across the country claiming that President Bill Clinton held up all air traffic for an hour while Air Force One sat on a runway so he could get a haircut costing $500. And of course media outlets reported this as a true story.

It didn’t happen. It was just a smear campaign against Clinton. Those FAXes came from somewhere, but the story wasn’t true.

But now it is a “true” story, still repeated. (Here it is again in the NY Times in 2007 and again repeated in Time in 2010.)

The Smear Machine

Here is how it works.

  1. The right’s “smear machine” tries out versions of various smears, hoping that the wording of one of them will catch on — like “Veterans died waiting for appointments” did. The wording makes it sound like A SCANDAL happened! Go to Drudge Report, for example, and you’ll see two, five, maybe even a dozen tryouts of smear stories.
  2. Right wingers circulate the smear. They embellish it. They try out different variations on the headline wording.
  3. Eventually one out of a hundred might make it into real circulation.
  4. The corporate media picks up the story and endlessly repeats it.
  5. It becomes a “truth” that will be repeated forever.

Just for fun:
Here’s Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, on May 21, 1993: “Haircut Grounded Clinton While the Price Took Off.”

It may have been the most expensive haircut in history.

Two of Los Angeles International Airport’s four runways were shut down for nearly an hour on Tuesday, some incoming flights were delayed and Air Force One sat on the tarmac with engines running — all so that President Clinton’s Beverly Hills hairstylist, Chistophe, could come aboard and give Mr. Clinton a high-price trim before he took off for Washington.

Here’s the LA Times, in July 1993: “Clinton Haircut Caused No Big Delays, Records Show”.

“If you understand the air traffic system, you’d find that statement (that planes were circling) ridiculous,” FAA spokesman Fred O’Donnell told Newsday.”

Now, here’s Louisville Sentinel, in December 2011, “Kentucky Senator Rand Paul cuts his own hair.”

And, who can forget that wonderful 1993 Thomas Friedman story in The New York Times, about the time two of Los Angeles International Airport’s four runways were shut down for nearly an hour, while Air Force One sat on the tarmac with engines running — all so that President Bill Clinton’s Beverly Hills hairstylist, Chistophe, could come aboard and give Mr. Clinton a high-price trim before he took off for Washington.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesmen were quoted by The Associated Press as saying that while Air Force One sat on the runway on an indefinite haircut hold, two of the airport’s four runways were shut down and some commuter flights scheduled to land were forced to circle instead. The White House insisted, though, that the Secret Service had not sought any special hold on air traffic while the President was getting his locks shorn.

What is it about Democrats and their haircuts?

That why lies that never die are called “zombie lies.”

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