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The Forum

A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics

Ed. by Disalvo, Daniel / Stonecash, Jeffrey

4 Issues per year


IMPACT FACTOR 2016: 0.397

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.476
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.331

Online
ISSN
1540-8884
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Volume 8, Issue 1 (Apr 2010)

Issues

Why the "Death Panel" Myth Wouldn't Die: Misinformation in the Health Care Reform Debate

Brendan Nyhan
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Published Online: 2010-04-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1540-8884.1354

Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama struggled to overcome widespread and persistent myths about their proposals to reform the American health care system. Their difficulties highlight the influence of factual misinformation in national politics and the extent to which it correlates with citizens' political views. In this essay, I explain how greater elite polarization and the growth in media choice have reinforced the partisan divide in factual beliefs. To illustrate these points, I analyze debates over health care reform in 1993–1994 and 2009–2010, tracing the spread of false claims about reform proposals from Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and analyzing the prevalence of misinformation in public opinion. Since false beliefs are extremely difficult to correct, I conclude by arguing that increasing the reputational costs for dishonest elites might be a more effective approach to improving democratic discourse.

Keywords: health care; health care reform; Barack Obama; Bill Clinton; Betsy McCaughey; Sarah Palin; no exit; death panel; euthanasia

About the article

Published Online: 2010-04-27


Citation Information: The Forum, ISSN (Online) 1540-8884, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1540-8884.1354.

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©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston. Copyright Clearance Center

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