A CNN editor scolded liberals this week for spreading a conspiracy alleging the new Republican health care bill would make rape and other sexual assaults a pre-existing condition.
Interestingly enough, CNN itself is largely responsible for making the bogus claim go mainstream.
At around the time Congress passed the American Health Care Act, the GOP's response to the Democratic Party's Affordable Care Act, its critics alleged the Republican bill would make it more difficult for victims of sexual assault to get health insurance.
"Not so," CNN's Chris Cillizza wrote this week in an article titled, "Donald Trump is turning liberals into conspiracy theorists."
It's unclear whether he meant to criticize his employer, because CNN definitely published a news report on May 4 titled, "Rape and domestic violence could be pre-existing conditions."
"[The Affordable Care Act] ensured that tests for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, plus domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling, would be completely covered by insurance companies," wrote CNN's Jen Christensen.
"That may not be the case in the future. Under the current bill, states could seek waivers that would let insurers sell plans that don't include all the essential health benefits mandated by the ACA," she added.
This scaremongering has no basis in fact, according to Reason's Elizabeth Brown and the Washington Post's Michelle Ye Hee Lee, the latter of which awarded the conspiracy theory an unflattering four Pinocchios.
Brown wrote, "Nothing in the new Republican health care bill specifically addresses sexual assault or domestic violence whatsoever. What it does say is that states can apply for waivers that will allow insurance companies, under certain limited circumstances, to charge higher premiums to people based on their personal medical histories—that's it. (States that are granted the waivers must also set up special high-risk insurance pools to try and help defray costs for these people.)"
"Under Obamacare, no such price variances based on preexisting conditions are permitted," she added.
Lee, who Cillizza leaned on heavily in his own article debunking the rape claim, explained that, "The notion that AHCA classifies rape or sexual assault as a preexisting condition, or that survivors would be denied coverage, is false. … this claim relies on so many factors — including unknown decisions by a handful of states and insurance companies — that this talking point becomes almost meaningless."
As for the scolding the press and other political activists deserve for spreading this particularly vicious rumor, we'll let Brown, who was first to unpack the controversy, have the last word.
"If Democrats and progressives would just stick to actual details of the AHCA, they would still have plenty of material to make Republicans look bad (and the same goes for traffic-thirsty bloggers)," she wrote.
Brown concluded, "But once again, that's not enough for them. In their zeal to portray Donald Trump and the current GOP as worse than Nazis, the actual details of the bill don't matter—and if that terrifies a ton of sexual-assault survivors and terrorizes American women in the process, so be it."