If you were on social media this weekend, and you checked in on prominent pundits and reporters, chances are high you saw a story alleging a major Republican senator said sick children do not deserve government aid because they are lazy.
It's simply not true. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, did not say he was uninterested in rescuing funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Here's what's happened:
Hatch said in reference to welfare spending in general: “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything.”
The senator also said in those same remarks that he's committed to protecting CHIP funding. In fact, it's pretty clear from context that Hatch was lamenting that those "billions and billions" in waste made it harder to afford CHIP funding.
Unfortunately for the senator, many in media were quick to twist his words into something else entirely.
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, for example, tweeted that Hatch was "talking about children's health care" when the senator commented on those who won't "lift a finger" to help themselves.
Mic.com reported, “Sen. Orrin Hatch sparks backlash after claiming there's 'no money' for children’s health plan.”
“A child needs food. His parents quit their jobs. ‘Now we have no $ to feed him,’ the dad says. Millions of kids sick. Their working parents cant afford insurance. CHIP gets them care. GOP cuts taxes. ‘Now we have no $ for CHIP’ Orrin Hatch says (real) The logic of selfishness,” Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald tweeted.
The Los Angeles Times’ Jamil Smith added, “CHIP helps kids, [Sen. Hatch] acknowledges. But? ‘I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves – won’t lift a finger – and expect the federal government to do everything.’”
Splinter News’ Emma Roller tweeted, “Orrin Hatch: we can’t afford to fund children’s health care because our donors need the money more.”
The thing is: If you go back and look at what Hatch actually said, he definitely did not dismiss concerns about keeping CHIP funded.
It’s clear the senator has been taken out of context. Hatch explicitly said no such thing about children’s healthcare. Quite the contrary. He was saying we need to cut funding for those who can help themselves in order to preserve funding for CHIP.
However, despite that many fair-minded pundits and reporters were quick to note that the narrative forming against Hatch was unfair, certain commentators decided it was best to hold fast to the lie.
“Some are saying I posted a misleading quote about Sen. Hatch. I disagree. After saying that he started the CHIP program, he then says there isn't any money for it. This on a night he voted to plunge America $1 Trillion deeper in debt for corporate tax cuts,” Scarborough tweeted this weekend.”
He added, “He then plays a cartoon version of a GOP senator by saying it's all those poor people getting welfare benefits that are bankrupting us, when anyone with basic knowledge of the federal debt knows this is a lie. Then after saying children's health insurance is important but there's no money for it, Hatch says the Senate will eventually get to it. But later suggests it's not the be-all-end-all. His vote showed it's certainly not as important for tax breaks for the richest among us.”
Sure, that’s nice and all, but it’s clear from the video that Hatch was speaking generally about welfare spending. He said specifically that, “We’re going to do CHIP. There’s no question about it in my mind.”
Also, it’s worth noting Sen. Hatch co-wrote the bill to extend funding for CHIP.
But, like, Hatch is playing a “cartoon version of a GOP senator,” as Scarborough claimed. That’s the ticket.