As we close out a year beating back the misinformation and outright lies spread about health insurance reform, one literally takes the prize. The Pulitzer prize-winning website PolitiFact determined that of “all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest” and named Sarah Palin's status update on her Facebook page on August 7th the “Lie of the Year.”
Palin's post included this, which PolitiFact determined the first publicly known use of the term “death panel” in this health insurance reform debate:
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
PolitiFact recounts how the Palin-inspired attack various twists on the phrase was either preceded or quickly parroted–despite being shot down by independent fact checkers, reporters, and experts–by House Republican Leader John Boehner, Republican House member Virginia Foxx, former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich, and…in perhaps a new low…by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley who ended the charade that he was negotiating a Senate bill in good faith by claiming health reform would allow the government to determine “you're going to pull the plug on Grandma.”
As for Palin, she told the conservative National Review in an interview on Nov. 17, the same day her best-selling memoir Going Rogue was released, that she didn’t regret her comments. (PolitiFact’s calls and e-mail to Palin were not returned.)
Mythbusters throughout the health care debate can be found in our fact check section or in our blog archive, including the August 10th “death panels” edition, which tackled what is now the “Lie of the Year.”