David Smith, Retract or Clarify Your Misleading Tweet About Pete Buttigieg’s Health Care Plan
Irresponsible reporting like this guarantees a Trump victory in 2020
On December 13, David Smith, the Washington bureau chief of The Guardian tweeted, “Buttigieg: I trust you to figure out your own health care.”
This quote was cherry-picked from an interview of Pete Buttigieg by The Washington Post reporter, Robert Costa. Below is a direct excerpt of the full exchange between Buttigieg and Costa.
Costa: When you say you want to move towards universal health care, does that mean, politically, eventually you would like to see Medicare for All?
Buttigieg: Yes. I would like to see it, but I’m not going to impose it on others. The idea of Medicare for All Who Want It, which is what I call my plan, we set up a public plan, we make it available to everybody. If you’re uninsured, you get auto-enrolled into it, so there’s no such thing as an uninsured American. But if you like the plan you’ve got, I’m not gonna force you off of it. Now, either its going to be better than any alternative, and if that’s the case, and I suspect it is, then what happens is more and more people choose it. And organically, that’s how you get to Medicare for All. That’s what I’ve been talking about from before the time I got into this race. But I’m willing to acknowledge, just in the spirit of putting a little bit of humility into our policy, that instead of just assuming that sitting here in Washington we’re going to know what the right plan is for everybody or even what the right timeline is for everybody to come over, we’re going to let people figure it out for themselves. I trust you to figure out your own health care, especially when we create these options. And if I’m mistaken about my plan being the best, if for some folks some other plan is better, I’m not going to take that away from you. What do we gain by that? The principle at stake is not making sure that government is delivering your health insurance. The principle at stake is making sure that you have health insurance without costs ever being a barrier and that there’s no such thing as an uninsured American.
The negative implications of Smith’s misleading tweet are many. Today, I came across tweets written by transgender individuals who expressed the dangers of taking hormones without the aid of a doctor, which is what they have had to do because they are uninsured. To them, when they read this cherry-picked quote, they hear Buttigieg saying, “Sorry, you’re on your own.” And, of course, that’s not what he said at all.
It makes sense for Americans to be skeptical about Buttigieg’s plan, just like it makes sense to be skeptical about Warren’s, Sanders’s, and Biden’s plans. But for a leading journalist to disseminate misinformation like this — especially when any good journalist knows that people often fail to read beyond sensational headlines and tweets — is grossly irresponsible. It widens the gaps between the dueling factions of the Democratic voting bloc, which all but guarantees another four years of a Trump presidency.
I’m calling on David Smith to clarify his tweet. If it represents how he interpreted Buttigieg’s quote, then tell us. If not, say so.
Right now, more than anything else, political discourse requires honesty, humility, and responsible reporting. Otherwise, what the hell are we doing?