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KTVB’s journalism malpractice on Medicaid

KTVB’s journalism malpractice on Medicaid

Dustin Hurst
December 16, 2014
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December 16, 2014

I understand journalism is a fast-paced job, with an ever-hungry audience searching for the latest click-bait.

Sometimes, feeding the beast is the sole objective.

Still, journalists at least feigning objectivity have a duty to inform the voting public and offer differing views on important issues.

That’s where KTVB fell short this week. In a Monday night report about the expansion of government health care, the station offered only glowing reviews of the plan that would add 103,000 more people to the state’s Medicaid program.

What spurred the report? The Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, which is housed at the Mountain States Group, released a document suggesting the state expand Medicaid.

KTVB’s report served more as a video press release for Mountain States Group than an objective look at government health care.

And that’s not fair to Idahoans. Not at all.

Let’s start with the report’s imagery. In its final shot, KTVB shows a picture of a child receiving a doctor’s exam. While attractive to the eye, it’s very deceptive. Medicaid expansion doesn’t apply to Idaho’s children; poor kids already qualify!

So, then, who would it help? Mostly childless, able-bodied adults.

Next, let’s look at the fiscal facts. KTVB said Medicaid expansion would save Idaho $173 million through the next decade. That’s a fact, but it lacks important context. It’s far from simple savings. Instead, it shifts the costs from Idaho and its 44 counties to the federal government. But the federal government’s money comes from us, too, and our kids and grandkids.

Not such a savings, then.

Finally, this: Next time, interview someone who thinks making 103,000 more people reliant on the government isn’t a great idea.

This is a huge decision for state lawmakers and Idahoans deserve fair and honest news. Unfortunately, KTVB just didn’t get there with its Medicaid expansion report.

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