Yet Another Conservative Urban Legend Takes Root

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Yesterday I noticed an item reporting that Warren Buffett thought Obamacare should be scrapped. It took about ten seconds of googling to figure out that (a) Buffett’s statement was made three years ago, and (b) he was lobbying for a better bill, not for health care reform to be abandoned. In fact, he specifically said that given a choice between the status quo and the bill wending its way through Congress, he’d take the bill. I considered writing a post about this, but the source seemed to be pretty obscure and nutballish, and anyway, my big toenail needed clipping. So I didn’t bother.

That might have been a mistake. It turns out that this is an object lesson in how eager conservatives are to pick up even on things that are so plainly wrong they’d embarrass a five-year-old. Jon Chait does the honors:

The quote was picked up by Jeffrey H. Anderson of the Weekly Standard — “You know things are bad for President Obama when even Warren Buffett has soured on Obamacare and says that ‘we need something else’” — and ricocheted around the conservative-news world….In fact, the Buffett quote came from comments he made in 2010, when the health-care law was being cobbled together in Congress. His denunciation of “what we have right now” refers to the pre-Obamacare status quo.

….Anderson hilariously issued an “update” to his completely false item, in which he notes: “It appears that Buffett made his anti-Obamacare comments in 2010, thereby showing that he, like most of the American people, has opposed Obamacare since even before it was passed.”

Buffett immediately issued a statement calling these reports “100 percent wrong,” and pointing out that he’s supported Obamacare from the very start.

Too late, Warren! This is now officially a conservative urban legend that will never, ever go away. Whether it’s true or not doesn’t really matter.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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