Conservative media stirred up a brouhaha Tuesday by resurrecting a 2010 Warren Buffett quote on health care as fresh news – and without context.
This week the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto, the Weekly Standard's Jeffery Anderson and Newsbusters' Noel Sheppard wrote articles claiming that Buffett, the famed billionaire investor, had called Obamacare "a tapeworm eating ... at our economic body."
It appears that the genesis for the kerfuffle was a case of wishful thinking from conservative commentators, who jumped on a shaky source to bolster their opposition to President Obama’s signature health care law.
“You know things are bad for President Obama when even Warren Buffett has soured on Obamacare,” wrote Anderson. Sheppard wrote that the interview with Buffett had been done “recently,” and questioned whether other outlets would cover it.
All three conservative outlets cite a website, Morning Money, as their source. The website quotes Buffett, in an article that mainly promoted a book called "Beating Obamacare: Your Handbook for Surviving the New Health Care Law," which is described as being written in “an easy going, easy to read style.”
Buffett's office told the Washington Examiner that he didn't make any such comments recently. "He has not made those comments," an aide to Buffett said, after checking with him. "It is entirely false."
Buffett made some comments resembling the reported remarks – but that was in March 2010, before the final approval of the Affordable Care Act. Back then, he spoke on CNBC about the health care reform process, bemoaning rising health care costs.
"That kind of a cost, compared with the rest of the world, is like a tapeworm eating at our economic body," he said, according to an Associated Press report of his interview.
According to a contemporaneous Politico story, Buffett said he would vote for the Senate's version of the Affordable Care Act, but ideally would scrap the bill and start over with a bill that focuses more on controlling costs.
Morning Money did not immediately return a request for comment.