If you even had a shadow of a doubt about the dangerous way in which the media misinforms the public, the Associated Press went out of its way on Wednesday to put those doubts to rest.
Focused on the mission of keeping the public up to date on events, the AP broke a report from the U.S. Senate on Wednesday where Democrats had attempted to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.
This is how their dispatch read:
BREAKING: Senate Republicans block bill to restore free contraception under health care law.
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 16, 2014
Those of you who followed the arguments presented in Hobby Lobby and the Court’s eventual decision in the case will have no idea to what AP is referring here.
To recap, the majority of Supreme Court justices found that the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act, implemented as part of a regulatory measure and not passed by Congress, violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The court found that closely held firms who prove religious objections to the mandate can refuse to provide certain contraceptive methods as part of their employees’ health coverage.
In response to this decision, Senate Democrats introduced a measure, sponsored by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO), which would have restored the original legal guarantee that women be able to access all contraceptive services through their employer-provided health care plan over the objections of their employer. The measure did not, however, seek to amend RFRA.
Moreover, the AP’s assertion that “free birth control” is now merely a dream for so many women is equally untrue. Writing about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) revisionist claim that the government shutdown of 2013 was all about birth control, Mary Katharine Ham wrote the following:
It makes no difference to her that birth control was readily available to everyone, subsidized and provided free by the government, and covered by almost all employer-based insurance plans before a bureaucrat at Health and Human Services decided to force every employer in America to provide it without a copay, regardless of their religious beliefs. It was even available to Hobby Lobby employees before the Hobby Lobby case was decided and will remain available to them after that decision.
While the AP’s tweet made absolutely no sense, and even the wire report was perfectly misleading, the AP’s intended purpose was achieved. A variety of the social media users who replied to the tweet echoed Democratic talking points about the Republican Party’s antipathy toward women.
Who needs OFA when you have AP?