Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hoystory: "Obama’s War on Religion and Conscience"

Matthew Hoy is back at it with his usual biting commentary on PolitiFact. This time he shares his thoughts on the current debate about the effect of PPACA mandates on institutions of the Roman Catholic Church.

Hoy deals broadly with the controversy, but we'll highlight his mention of PolitiFact. At issue is PolitiFact's treatment of Newt Gingrich's statement that the PPACA requires religious institutions to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives:
After honestly analyzing the rule and the law, Politifraud labels Gingrich’s charge “mostly false” as they engage in an amount of hand-waving that would enable human flight without the aid of wings, engines or the other commonly required tools.
Still, if you consider a Catholic church to be a "Catholic institution," or a synagogue to be a "Jewish institution," Gingrich isn’t correct that the recent federal rule on contraceptives applies. Those nonprofit religious employers could choose whether or not they covered contraceptive services.
It’s pretty clear that Gingrich chose his words carefully here and Politifraud is muddying the waters. When I hear the words “Catholic institution” I think of everything Catholic that isn’t the church. I think of hospitals, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, adoption services, the Knights of Columbus, etc. Maybe it’s just because I’m likely more familiar with religious terminology than the (snark on) godless heathens (snark off) who populate many newsrooms, that I interpret it this way. But if the difference between a “True” or “Mostly True” ruling and a “Mostly False” ruling is over whether the word “institution” includes the church or not, then there’s way too much parsing going on.
Parsing words is nothing new for PolitiFact. But that's not the biggest flub Hoy spots:
In the video Politifact links to of Gingrich’s statement (provided by none other than Think Progress), Gingrich makes it clear that he is talking about the rule issued “last week.” The rule issued last week was the one regarding religious employers covering contraceptives in their health plans. Politifraud dishonestly expands that specific criticism of that specific rule into states can set their own benchmarks. No, they can’t. Not when it comes to the rule that came down “last week.” That rule says they MUST cover contraceptives.
Once again Hoy is spot on, though as usual our brief review doesn't do his work justice. Head over to Hoystory and read the whole thing.

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