Yesterday, the Associated Press‘s Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar (or his editors) described the House version of the healthcare reform bill as a “$1.5 trillion plan”.
Initially, the story sourced that number to an unnamed “House Democratic aide.” Since the respected Congressional Budget Office had just scored the bill’s cost at roughly $1 trillion over 10 years, Democrats were, understandably, “furious”.
In response, AP yesterday stopped ascribing the number to an unnamed “House Democratic aide.” Instead, they presented it as if it were an established fact. Without ever mentioning that it was a) hotly disputed by Democrats, and b) entirely unclear how it was arrived at, and by whom, and what their blood-alcohol count was at the time.
This morning, AP‘s Erica Werner cheerfully repeated the $1.5 trillion fictionoid:
Votes were planned Thursday in the Education and Labor and Ways and Means committees on a $1.5 trillion plan that majority House Democrats presented this week.
Respected journalists from reputable publications — okay, Time‘s Mark Halperin, which may not be quite the same thing — picked up AP‘s cooked up number and ran with it:
Education and labor committees will vote Thursday on the Democrats’ $1.5 trillion plan.
I don’t think Halperin — who regularly manages to misunderstand a lot of what he writes about — understands how this game is played. You’re supposed to take the number you hear, and multiply it by 1.5 before you pass it along, Mark.