The smears just keep on coming from the MaineWire
On March 28, 2012 At 5:00 pm
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The MaineWire is the “news” media arm of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a right wing advocacy group. For a short while after its inception last December, MaineWire produced some actual news reporting.
Since then, it is nothing but a smear rag, providing readers with just enough information to support it’s claims (one example is this). With strong ties to the LePage administration and Republican leaders in the Legislature, its role is to produce scandal in order to enable action by against perceived enemies.
Its latest attack is on Maine reporters’ training funded by a “pro-ObamaCare group. The Health Coverage Fellowship is sponsored by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation in collaboration with other charities, in this case, the Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF). As described on the BCBS Foundation website:
The Health Coverage Fellowship is designed to help newspaper, radio, and television reporters and editors do a better job covering critical health care issues. Each year ten journalists are selected from across the country for an intensive nine days of training.
The fellowship focuses on issues ranging from public health and mental health to covering the uninsured, controlling skyrocketing costs, and upgrading quality. More than 70 speakers participate each year, including top health officials, policy experts, and researchers. The program also brings its journalists into the field to watch first-hand how the system works, from walking the streets at night with mental health case workers to riding in a Medflight helicopter.
What piqued the ire of MaineWire is this from the 2011 Fellowship:
The health care “fellowship” attended by the Maine reporters is a nine-day workshop held in Boston. Among the sessions held at the event was one called “States on the Edge” where a featured speaker was Trish Riley, former Maine governor John Baldacci’s health care chief and the architect of Maine’s failed government-run health care experiment – Dirigo Health. Reporters in the fellowship also had the chance to attend a Red Sox game as part of the trip.
The Maine Health Access Foundation was founded in 2000, as a condition of the purchase of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Maine by Anthem. As a condition of the sale, Maine’s Board of Insurance mandated that “At least $81.69 million of the sale proceeds paid for the business of Blue Cross must be immediately transferred to the Charitable Foundation as soon as the sale is complete.”
Several prominent liberal activists sit on MeHAF’s Board of Trustees, including Nancy Fritz, former Director of Homeless Initiatives at Maine Housing, and Sara Gagne-Holmes, the Executive Director of Maine Equal Justice Partners.The group came out actively in support of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in 2009. MEHAF Executive Director Wendy Wolf wrote in an ‘Open letter from MeHAF’s President and CEO’:
“MeHAF embraces this law as an unprecedented opportunity to advance our mission to promote affordable and timely access to comprehensive, quality health care, and improve the health of every Maine resident – particularly those who are uninsured.”
Even by MaineWire’s low standards, this piece is a tour de force in “smear journalism.” Not only does MaineWire not provide links to allow readers to look at its sources, it focuses on one – one – panel discussion in a nine day program (the entire program for the 2011 conference is here).
For example, Trish Riley was part of a panel that included Susan Besio is Commissioner of Health Access in Vermont, and Jonathan Gruber, an economics professor at MIT and architect of the Massachusetts health reform law, on the topic of “states on the edge.”
Other speakers included:
Paul Steiger, editor-in-chief and CEO of ProPublica;.
Arthur Brisbane, the New York Times’ public editor;.
Jeffrey Flier, dean of the Harvard Medical School;.
Dr. Al DeMaria, Massachusetts’ director of Communicable Disease Control;.
Andrew Dreyfus, CEO of Blue Cross of MA;.
Jeffrey Drazen, editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine;.
I urge you to read through the program, and then ask – will the journalists that attended this be better able to report on health care issues?
Then ask why the MaineWire isn’t sending its “reporters” to a seminar on ethics in journalism.