Americans for Prosperity vs. MSNBC: Who 'Schooled' Whom?

The Atlantic

On Wednesday MSNBC host Chris Hayes went all in on Jennifer Stefano of the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity. The interview quickly devolved into a shouting match and, by Thursday afternoon, liberals and conservatives were arguing over which side got schooled. We'd like to clear up exactly who got schooled and who did the schooling. Spoiler: The person who stated that families making $94,000 a year qualify for Medicaid did not do any schooling.

Hayes started off his show with a four-minute monologue explaining conservative reactions to the enrollment extension, then introduced Stefano as "one of those people who I really think genuinely wakes up every day and thinks about how to destroy Obamacare." It gets increasingly more aggressive from there. The Independent Journal Review and other conservative sites argued that Hayes got "schooled," and "destroyed," and noted — accurately! — that Hayes interrupted Stefano several times. Others noted that most of what Stefano said was inaccurate, which it was. There were no real winners. 

RELATED: Federal Appeals Court Upholds Texas's Controversial Abortion Laws

Stefano claim: 7 million people lost their insurance because of Obamacare

This is not true. Estimates of canceled plans are usually around 5 million. Also, Politifact recently rated this kind of statement false, given that half of the nation's canceled plans were kept due to the "keep your plan fix" and many people were automatically enrolled into similar plans. Hayes didn't challenge Stefano on this. 

Verdict: Stefano was wrong, and didn't school anyone.

Stefano claim: Only 14 percent of Obamacare enrollees had no coverage 

Stefano referenced a recent survey from the McKinsey consulting firm that found most people who signed up for insurance on the individual market this year had insurance previously. The thing is, the analysts "did not break down their results for people who specifically purchased insurance through Obamacare," according to a McKinsey representative. It's hard to say how many people who previously had insurance enrolled in Obamacare, but health policy expert Robert Laszewski told Politifact it was probably closer to 50 percent

RELATED: Obamacare Enrolls 6 Million People Just 4 Days Before Deadline

Verdict: Stefano was likely wrong again.

Stefano claim: $94,000 a year is 133 percent of the poverty level

Stefano argued that while some Republican governors have expanded Medicaid in states like Ohio (true) and Pennsylvania (not true), the expansion is bad because it gives tax resources to wealthy people. "Take 133 percent of the poverty level in states like Pennsylvania and others, you get $94,000 a year," she said. Hayes called that a "math train wreck," which is probably being generous. Philip Klein, a senior writer at the conservative Washington Examiner, pointed out that your family would have to be Duggar-sized:

Verdict: So, so wrong. It's worth noting that Stefano is Americans for Prosperity's Pennsylvania director. 

Stefano claim: Hayes has no right to under cut her voice like Harry Reid

This one is kinda true. “How dare you, like Harry Reid, try to undercut the voice of a woman simply because she disagrees with you," she told Hayes. "Now you may not like where I’m coming from on policy, but you have no right to undercut my voice.”

RELATED: Wisconsin's New Law Only Allows Voting While Most People Are Working

He did interrupt her, but Stefano is bringing up a conservative talking point. Reid called Americans for Prosperity's anti-Obamacare ad featuring Julie Boonstra untrue because, well, it was. Conservatives argued that he was silencing her voice, when in fact he was challenged the validity of her argument. That's more or less what happened on MSNBC last night.

Verdict: Literally no one was schooled during this interview. No one learned anything. 

This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/politics/2014/03/americans-for-prosperity-vs-msnbc-who-schooled-whom/359751/

Read more from The Wire

•   Bill de Blasio's Government Looks More Like New York City Than Bloomberg's

•   Surprise! The Christie Administration's Report on Bridgegate Clears Chris Christie

View Comments (3682)