(John Amato: I was involved in breaking the Specter story and asked him at the time if Grassley should be kicked out of the negotiating process because of his egregious statements. He said that if all Senators were kicked out of things because they made wrong statements there would be no Senators.
This passed unnoticed, but it’s a big deal: Over the weekend, and very quietly, Senator Chuck Grassleycompletely retracted his widely-reported claim last week that people have “every reason to fear” that the House health care proposal would create a “government program that determines if you’re going to pull the plug on grandma.”
The retraction was buried deep in this Washington Post article on Grassley’s role, with a spokesperson admitting Grassley doesn’t really believe what he said about “grandma”:
Grassley says he opposes that counseling as written in the House version of the bill, but a spokesman said the senator does not think the House provision would in fact give the government such authority in deciding when and how people die. The House bill allows patients to decide for themselves if they would like such counseling.
Let’s be clear: By clarifying that Grassley doesn’t think the House bill would “give the government such authority in deciding when and how people die,” his spokesperson completely repudiated his widely discussed claim. This goes much farther than Grassley did in a statement released Friday clarifying he’d never used the words “death panel” and was merely worried about “unintended consequences.”
So, either Grassley made his claim about “grandma” to a crowd in his home state last week and didn’t believe it; or he changed his mind since then.
Grassley’s retraction will get nowhere near the coverage his initial statement did. False or outlandish claims are “controversial,” so they get rewarded with media attention; their subsequent retractions tend to pass unnoticed, because the press has moved on to the next false or outlandish claim. The big news orgs blared Grassley’s initial assertion at the electorate for days, but almost no one will ever learn that Grassley didn’t really mean it.