Days of Change

Good News, Bad Conclusions | July 15, 2017

President Trump’s war on the media has been more of a “throw the baby out with the bathwater” than a “one bad apple spoils the bunch” approach. Getting facts wrong isn’t nearly as bad as the wrong conclusions being drawn from information. Is there a crime regarding Trump campaign dealings with Russia? It doesn’t matter, because the authorities have to make those accusations and courts have to draw those conclusions.

Instead of focusing on something that will take months to investigate, yet is reported on daily, here’s a small example of a real story that take pains to draw conclusions that are more opinion than reality. After seeing the story on ABC, I found a Buzzfeed (yeah, Buzzfeed) article about a Mexican town densely populated by dentists. The facts are that Americans are going to Mexico for dental work because these Mexican dentists charge less. That story would be good for about 500 words, so 2000 more go into why this is Donald Trump’s fault and why we need socialized dentistry.

Opening the web page, the actual title states that dental work is so expensive in the US that thousands of Americans go to Mexico to get it done. This is a fact. However, the headline of the page is “A Mexican Town Is Giving Americans Something Donald Trump Can’t: Affordable Dental Care.” That is less accurate, making the story about Donald Trump, who had no involvement in the years it took for that town to set up 600 dental practices or the time it took for thousands of Americans to learn about it.

Interviews focus on retirees and Veterans, neither of whom have inclusive dental coverage. For the sake of the article’s POV, they were asked if they voted for Trump, which they did. The irony is that within the story itself, the author points out that Obamacare largely left out dental coverage in their attempt at socialized medicine. Much like all Buzzfeed stories, they also summarized it in an even more biased YouTube video.

The reason why so many people either distrust or actually hate the media is because they start with a conclusion, then find things to confirm their bias. Cheap dentistry in the US would be good, but did Trump ever argue that Americans shouldn’t visit Mexico or that Mexican dentists shouldn’t treat US citizens? Would voting for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump had led to low dental prices? It sure didn’t under Obama.

Without media commentary, this would be a story about the free market. Dental work is expensive and insurance doesn’t always cover it. You could travel to Mexico, but you don’t know the quality of care and there is time and money involved. The first people to do this version of medical tourism were RV owners, who had time and the vehicle to make the trip. Retirees and some veterans followed. Instead of accreditation, (for 600 dentists) Americans used word of mouth (pun not intended) to find the best dentists. The town in question has done as much as possible to accommodate valuable clients. They set up offices like American dental offices. Their office people speak English (many have been deported from the US). The dentists buy equipment and materials from American suppliers. The Mexican labs where dentures are made are the same ones where American dentists outsource their own appliances.

The facts I mentioned are in the article and the attached video. However, the story is promoted as an attack on Trump, also because of the free market. The anti-Trump media is seeing an increase in sales and viewership, largely due to Trump. It almost seems like free market economics creates solutions to problems and upsides from downsides.

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