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Jonathan Bernstein makes a telling point today about the Fox News bubble that so many Republicans are trapped in. As you may recall, last week House Republicans released a survey suggesting that only 67 percent of Obamacare enrollees had paid their premiums. It was a laughably dumb survey, and it prompted the usual question: stupid or mendacious? Did Republicans really believe this nonsense, or were they just tossing out lies to muddy the waters?
Bernstein says the Republican follow-up to the survey demonstrates that they really believed their own spin:
This could be just a story of ineptitude. The House Energy and Commerce Committee wouldn’t be the first to construct a survey poorly....But yesterday, a House subcommittee invited insurance company executives to testify and, according to the Hill, Republicans on the panel were “visibly exasperated, as insurers failed to confirm certain claims about ObamaCare, such as the committee's allegation that one-third of federal exchange enrollees have not paid their first premium.”
We don’t have to rely on reporter interpretations (here’s another one). It made no sense to hold the hearing unless Republicans were (foolishly) confident that the testimony would support their talking point, instead of undermining it.
The only plausible explanation is that closed feedback loop. Either members of the committee managed not to be aware of the criticisms of their survey, or they mistakenly wrote off the criticism as partisan backbiting.
Good catch! Obviously Republicans were caught off guard at yesterday's hearing, and that could only happen if they really and truly believed their own flawed survey. And that, in turn, could only happen if they get pretty much all their information from Fox News and don't bother with anything else. After all, the flaw in their survey was obvious. You didn't have to be a brain surgeon to know that it would never stand up to scrutiny.
Welcome to the alternate universe of movement conservatism. Sometimes it bites you in the ass.