Health Care Reality Check

| Wed Aug. 12, 2009 12:00 PM EDT

The health care debate has generated a lot of crazy talk (Obama wants to kill grandmas! And Sarah Palin's Down Syndrome baby!) So it's not surprising that the president has launched a website to debunk the lies, dubbed "Health Insurance Reform Reality Check."

When Obama unveiled a similar site, "Fight the Smears," during the campaign, it was considered a smart political move. But it's unclear how effective it actually was.

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The problem is that once an idea enters the cable news/blogosphere ether, it's nearly impossible to kill. One of the stories debunked on "Fight the Smears" was Obama's birth record. We all know how that turned out. Nor has it stopped people from believing Obama is Muslim, unpatriotic, or tax-happy.

Still, clarification is never a bad thing—and the site could very well persuade members of the masses, if not the wacky fringe.

Currently, the site's six busted myths range from the fear-mongering (the plan will require euthanasia for old people) to the reasonable (it will cut some Medicare benefits). At least one of the lies it discredits—that reform will lead to a government takeover of health care—has also been debunked by factcheck.org. Still, the site's video rebuttals would carry more weight if they came from people outside the administration, and had a little less spin.

Only time will tell if this will actually help Obama push through his plan. But one thing's for sure: When it comes to the paranoia-infused health care debate, a reality check is often in order.