Fox News has labored vigorously to establish its reputation as America’s whites-only cable news channel. Simultaneously they have distinguished themselves as the nation’s foremost purveyor dishonest and politically biased “reporting.” But every now and then they manage to score extra points by melding these two achievements into a single story. That goal was realized today by Fox’s community website, Fox Nation, with help from their disreputable pals at Breitbart News.
The headline declaring that “ObamaCare [is] Recruiting Illegal Immigrants” is absolutely, provably false. As is the content of the article that says in the opening paragraph that “Covered California–the flagship of state Obamacare exchanges–is recruiting illegal (“undocumented”) immigrants to sign up for the program, regardless of their eligibility.”
There is no truth whatsoever to that claim. But adhering to factual reporting has never been the mission of Fox News. It’s especially humorous that Joel Pollak, the BreitBrat author of the article, attempts to align his bogus assertions to Republican congressman Joe Wilson who, you may recall, shouted out “You lie,” during President Obama’s 2009 State of the Union speech when the President stated that the Affordable Care Act would not cover undocumented immigrants. Pollak believes that Wilson is due an apology based on his deeply misconstrued interpretation of a page on the Covered California website.
The shoddy news sleuthing by BreitBrat Pollak turned up a page that informed readers that they did not need to worry if they were “undocumented and want your family to enroll in health insurance. That was the spark that set fire to Pollak’s active imagination. Without wasting any effort on reading further or trying to understand the context, Pollak concluded that this was an attempt to enroll undocumented immigrants in ObamaCare, which the law explicitly prohibits. This is what the very first paragraph on the page actually said:
“According to the laws and implementing regulations, the information provided by individuals for coverage can not be used for purposes other than ensuring the efficient functioning of the insurance market (Covered California) or administration of the program, or to verify certain eligibility determinations including verification of the immigration status of these people.”
If Pollak had the comprehension skills to grasp this, he would have noticed two things: 1) The page is assuring applicants that the information they provide will not be shared with immigration agencies. And 2) That verification of immigration status will be a determinant condition of their eligibility.
The importance of the first item is to reassure people that an application will not result in an investigation or potential deportation. Many Latino families have mixed immigration statuses and they are sensitive to the possibility that their families could be separated. Consequently, they refrain from enrolling in benefits programs like ObamaCare. That means that many people who are actually citizens (i.e. children who were born here, or naturalized adults) would be deprived of services to which they are entitled because of their concern for other family members who may not be documented. This assurance allows them to apply without having to fear unrelated consequences.
The second item should be an assurance to bigots like Pollak that no undocumented immigrants would receive health care benefits under ObamaCare. It is an explicit declaration that citizenship is required for eligibility. And it is what makes Pollak’s assertion that illegal immigrants are being recruited regardless of their eligibility such a blatant lie.
It’s interesting to note that the Fox News Latino website does not have a story on this matter. Fox News Latino often takes positions that sharply contrast with those of the Fox News mothership. It is their way of trying to lure in the fastest growing demographic in the country without alienating them the way Fox News does. Although, there is a story that addresses the administration’s efforts to reach out to Latinos. And in that story they correctly point out the dilemma of mixed immigration status families who worry about separation, saying that “One big issue is that the law requires that those seeking coverage provide the immigration status of members of their household to determine eligibility.” That is what the page on Covered California is there for – to alleviate that concern.
It is remarkably dishonest and unethical to portray the information provided on Covered California as attempting to recruit undocumented immigrants to enroll in ObamaCare. Yet that is precisely what Breitbart and the Fox Nationalists did. And they did this despite the fact that the correct information was plainly in front of them on the same page. Therefore, it can only be assumed that they knew the truth and deliberately chose to ignore and/or distort it. But that’s the one thing that is not surprising about this. That is, in fact, standard operating procedure at Fox News.