August 19, 2009

(h/t Heather for video)

On Tuesday's Hardball, during Chris Matthews' "Big Number" segment he made this claim:

The AARP's going out on a bit of a limb by backing efforts for health care reform, so here's proof that no good deed goes unpunished.

How many seniors have canceled their membership in AARP this summer, specifically citing AARP's push for some sort of health care overhaul? 60,000. 60,000 seniors have walked out on AARP this summer over reform. Tonight's big number.

Technically, this number may be accurate and there are those who are dropping their memberships over AARP's support of health care reform, but the story is incomplete. As Media Matters points out, other MSNBC shows have been spinning this story negatively, and, in fact, AARP actually gained 400,000 members and 1.5 million people renewed their memberships during the same time period:

The approximately 60,000 number represents members who specifically cited AARP's stance on the health overhaul debate in canceling their membership between July 1 and mid-August, Nannis said. He said that on average AARP loses some 300,000 members a month, but he couldn't say how many more members had quit for other reasons in that time period.

He said AARP gained some 400,000 new members during the same period and that 1.5 million members renewed their membership. Read on...

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that AARP has seen a net gain of 340,000 members during the health care debate this summer -- which should have been Chris Matthews' Big Number, but that's not sexy enough for him. MSNBC isn't the only source spreading the misleading numbers either -- and CBS got the ball rolling.

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