Fox News on Walter Reed

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Note: This is part of a series on why no rational person should get their news from Fox. 

First, FoxNews does deserve limited credit for reporting, in this piece, that the abhorrent conditions at Walter Reed were at least partially due to disputes around privatization.  But that's where the credit ends, and the massive bias begins. 

Fox has no choice but to follow their 2-part formula for placing blame: Bureaucracy and Clinton.  First, bureaucracy: Fox states this at the beginning of their story:

"An Army contract to privatize maintenance at Walter Reed Medical Center was delayed more than three years amid bureaucratic bickering and legal squabbles that led to staff shortages and a hospital in disarray just as the number of severely wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan was rising rapidly."

 Next, they throw Clinton into the mix:

"The trail goes back to the end of the Clinton administration. The Army began studying the cost benefits of privatization in 2000." 

Brilliant.  'The Trail goes back to"?  The trail goes back to privatization.  Even if Clinton had personally ordered to army to 'study the cost benefits of privatization', the trail does not go back to there unless you are willing to blame the problems on privatization, not 'bureaucratic bickering".   The trail actually goes back, however, to

"

When President Bush took office, he mandated the competitive outsourcing of 425,000 federal jobs. At the time, the Pentagon was aggressively pushing for increased outsourcing, and in June 2003, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Senate committee he was considering outsourcing up to 320,000 nonmilitary support jobs."

Simply because you mention both presidents names, doesn't mean they are both in any way involved.  Whereas Clinton was simply the president when the analysis took place, Bush mandated the privatization. 

What really happened? Well, Fox is kind enough to actually tell us, though we have to cut through their bias to get to it:  the army eliminated 360 federal jobs at Walter Reed and turned the work over to IAP, the company which had won the management bid.  Because of all that bureaucracy, those workers were not actually fired until this year; so Walter Reed was fully staffed until then.  However, IAP decided to replace those workers with 87 'temporary skilled workers' .  Despite the miracle that is the private sector, they could only find 10, and that is the understaffed condition the Washington Post found Walter Reed in when they investigated: a hospital abandon by privatization, desperately understaffed. 

 But had the bureaucracy been any faster, would the situation have been any different?  Doubtful, as IAP still wouldn't have found the workers any faster.  The problem is that a hospital for providing the most essential care for those sacrificing for their country was put into the hands of a for-profit company.  And its not just that this is  one bad company out of many other good ones at other facilities: as Fox even admits,

"(IAP is) the only private bidder to handle maintenance, security, public works and management of military personnel." 

Privatization, of those sectors, at least: 0-1

 


About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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