If your mother says she loves you, check it out

Dateline: Mon 07 Apr 2008

If Hillary Clinton, or any other politician, wants to use a "true" sob story about a dead baby and a dead mother that illustrates how broken the U.S. health care system is, it would be a good idea to verify the facts first.

I first heard about this debacle over the weekend on Rush Limbaugh's radio show. Of course he was cackling.

It's another shaky move on the part of HRC. The senator heard from one of her Ohio supporters about a pregnant woman turned away by a hospital in that state -- allegedly because the poor woman was uninsured and did not have $100 to put up front. According to the account passed on to Clinton, both the woman and the baby died. The implication was that the hospital was to blame. It was such a great story, Clinton incorporated it into her campaign stump speech. The Washington Poat made mention of that, which prompted the hospital to holler foul.

The truth is, the baby was stillborn and the mother did die two weeks later, but the hospital, O'Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens, Ohio, has contacted the Clinton campaign with the correct version of events regarding insurance, according to Saturday's New York Times.

"...hospital administrators said Friday that Ms. (Trina) Bachtel was under the care of an obstetrics practice affiliated with the hospital, that she was never refused treatment and that she was, in fact, insured."

Limbaugh said the woman's family was angry about the yarn being used as campaign fodder; he said that the family made it clear that their loved one was well-cared for as well as insured.

This comes under more than an "oops" heading. I cannot cast the first stone, since I know as a former reporter that errors get into print all the time, and reporters get burned when they don't do their homework. When that happens in the newsroom and beyond, we are all reminded of the old journalism axiom: If your mother says she loves you, check it out. And we correct our errors, in print.

Too bad all those big brains in Clinton's camp did not think to fact-check in advance, or that the biggest brain of all wouldn't have asked for accountability. I find that naive.

But maybe it's a lesson worth repeating regularly. Your mother may not really love you. Better call her and get a statement for the record.

Here's the link.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/05/us/politics/05woman.html

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