Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Medicare for All Fact Check From Hell Persists as Sanders Rebukes CNN for Putting 'Blind Faith' in Right-Wing Economist

"It is incredible how similar this is to the media's performance on Iraq. 1. Rely on charlatans and get everything wrong. 2. Justify your performance by pointing out that everyone else also relied on charlatans."

Jake Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks on healthcare as Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) listen during an event September 13, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

After CNN posted a slightly corrected version of its falsehood-riddled Medicare for All fact check on Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) thanked network anchor Jake Tapper for admitting that his earlier video "was not factual," but added that the updated version is still full of "errors peddled by the Koch-funded Mercatus Center."

"The question that must be asked is why would the corporate media would put their blind faith in a far right-wing economist whose past reports have been so thoroughly discredited by mainstream economists and experts?" 
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

Pointing to the table in the Mercatus Center analysis that shows Medicare for All would save the American people $2 trillion over ten years—while also providing healthcare for everyone—Sanders accused CNN and other corporate media outlets of putting "blind faith" in Chuck Blahous, the right-wing author of the Mercatus study who deceptively insists that his numbers are being taken out of context.

"What Tapper and others have done is say we're wrong because Blahous didn't actually intend to find that Medicare for All would be a great deal for Americans," Sanders noted in a series of tweets. "The problem is: Blahous did find it would save $2 trillion—he just doesn't like that people are celebrating it."

In response to Sanders' tweets on Monday, Tapper stood by his thoroughly discredited fact check by pointing to other thoroughly discredited fact checks—including his own—for validation.

"I guarantee you Mercatus approached each one of these outlets with the same pitch, then after a bunch of them bit on the pitch, they hold them up as proof they are right. This, by the way, is exactly how the NYT got snowed on WMD in Iraq."
—Matt Bruenig, People's Policy Project
Among the articles Tapper linked to was a "fact check" by the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler, which had to be corrected multiple times after People's Policy Project founder Matt Bruenig highlighted the number of blatant factual mistakes it contained.

"They are all wrong," Bruenig wrote of the self-proclaimed fact-checkers Tapper cited. "Jake, to talk about the fact-checkers as if they are separate evaluations is nonsense. Each one of them got the same spin from the same Mercatus author who has been doing intentional outreach to get people like you to say this stuff. It's the same poisoned source."

The Intercept's Jon Schwarz argued that Tapper's tactic of pointing to articles that all relied on the same ideologically motivated source—the Mercatus Center—to justify spreading a false narrative bears a striking resemblance "to the media's performance on Iraq" and alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Bruenig echoed Schwartz's Iraq comparison in a tweet of his own, writing: "I guarantee you Mercatus approached each one of these outlets with the same pitch, then after a bunch of them bit on the pitch, they hold them up as proof they are right. This, by the way, is exactly how the NYT got snowed on WMD in Iraq."

By continuing to push the narrative that Sanders is "misleading" the public by misinterpreting Blahous' numbers—which are available for all to see in the pages of the studyTapper's critics say the high-profile anchor is playing right into the hands of the Mercatus Center, which has been waging an aggressive public relations campaign ever since its attempt to discredit Medicare for All backfired last month.

Warren Gunnels, Sanders' policy director, provided evidence of this coordinated disinformation effort by posting a mass email he received from the Mercatus Center Monday morning—one that likely went out to countless others on Capitol Hill and in the media.

The email highlights all of the same articles Tapper cited in his Twitter thread and proclaims that the media has effectively discredited Sanders' $2 trillion savings claim.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

AOC Blasts Democratic Leaders for Boosting 'Pro-NRA Incumbent' Henry Cuellar

"This was an utter failure of leadership," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said hours after a gunman killed 19 children at a Texas elementary school.

Jake Johnson ·


'This Fight Isn't Over,' Says Cisneros as Cuellar Declares Victory in Razor-Close Primary

"This election is still too close to call, and we are still waiting for every ballot and eligible vote to be counted," said progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros.

Jake Johnson ·


After Kids Killed in Texas, Dems Declare 'Pass Gun Safety Legislation Now'

"Congress has a moral responsibility to end gun violence now," said Sen. Ed Markey. "To those who refuse to act, there are no excuses. Only complicity and shame."

Jessica Corbett ·


At Least 19 Children, 2 Adults Killed in Texas Elementary School Shooting

"This has become part of who we are as a country," said Julián Castro. "The free availability of guns has not made us safer in the United States or here in the state of Texas."

Brett Wilkins ·


House Dems to Pelosi: Hold Vote for Bill Expanding Social Security

"It is Congress' responsibility to ensure that Social Security's benefits are protected and improved," says a letter to the speaker. "It's time we deliver."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo