Originally Published: August 5, 2018 5:41 p.m.
FiveThirtyEight.com is an Opposition Media website that assures us of its superiority and authority: “FiveThirtyEight, uses statistical analysis — hard numbers — to tell compelling stories about elections, politics, sports, science, economics and, culture.”
What that glowing description leaves out is that FiveThirtyEight reporters also use bias and selective ‘facts’ to color how they report their “hard numbers.”
And speaking of firmness, the website appears to have a bone of contention with Catholic hospitals in the U.S.
Even we low-information Trump voters know there is an “opioid crisis” in rural America. It’s so bad that even normally disdained rural whites are getting sympathetic news coverage. Simultaneously, there’s another rural crisis that affects everyone in the boondocks, druggies and deplorables alike. As drugs move in, hospitals are moving out. For-profit hospitals leave because low incomes and low population density make it difficult to justify operating a hospital in the hinterlands.
When small town hospitals close, it leaves residents without health care options. Below is a sampling of relevant headlines:
A Hospital Crisis Is Killing Rural Communities. This State Is ‘Ground Zero.’
Hospital Closings Likely to Increase
Nearly 700 rural hospitals at risk of closing
After that one would think any organization keeping rural hospitals open would be the beneficiary of praise and congratulated for their compassion for rural Americans. But not so fast. That thinking might get one fired at FiveThirtyEight.
Anna Maria Barry-Jester and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux (beware of reporters bearing hyphens) examined one organization that still operates rural hospitals and found it wanting, and even worse, religious. “In a growing number of communities around the country, especially in rural areas, patients and physicians have access to just one hospital. And in more and more places, that hospital is Catholic.”
Now I can understand if the hospital was operated by Mormons it might be tough to get a cup of coffee in the cafeteria, but what could be wrong with Catholics? After all, the word ‘hospital’ comes to us from the Knights Hospitaller, an order dating back to the Crusades.
The danger is evidently intrinsic to being a Catholic. “What happens when you need or want a standard medical service, but the hospital won’t provide it?”
A hospital that won’t provide “standard medical service”? That does sound ominous.
I know Catholic doctrine considers homosexual practice a sin, but that shouldn’t rule out a colonoscopy. Passing out drunk is frowned upon, too, but I don’t think anesthesia is banned. Suicide is certainly a no-no, but I’ve never read of a Catholic hospital forcing those who attempt self-murder to visit a Satanist for treatment.
So what are these “standard medical services”?
The “hard numbers” reporters explain, “Abortion, birth control, vasectomies, tubal ligations, some types of end-of-life care, emergency contraception and procedures related to gender transition can all be off-limits if your local hospital happens to be Catholic.”
Translation: If you want an abortion, assisted suicide or to have your body vandalized so you can claim to be a woman (or man) when you’re not, a Catholic hospital is not a good place to go for an estimate.
The other “standard” procedures relate to birth control and even those in the grip of the strongest passion can pop into Walmart for stopgap measures, until they make their way to the big city.
As Becket Adams, who found the story, pointed out, “Remember, this is an article is about Catholic hospitals servicing poor and isolated rural areas where other medical organizations don’t or can’t operate.”
One would think the left would be celebrating Catholic’s commitment to the rural poor isolated by the closure of evil profit-making hospitals. Instead, the hyphen twins twist facts to make Catholic hospitals look malign.
In Cook County, not a rural area, the Pope’s practitioners are made to appear sinister because Medicaid patients were enrolled “in a plan where Catholic hospitals made up a bigger share of in-network facilities with labor and delivery departments than the share they accounted for in Cook County as a whole.”
What they don’t tell readers is why. That’s because Catholic hospitals will accept any Medicaid patients, while many for-profit hospitals won’t accept the same patients because the reimbursement rates are very low and the checks come very slow. Catholic hospitals are ‘over represented’ because the for-profit hospitals wanted out.
Instead of the praise Catholic hospitals deserve for continuing to serve the poor and isolated, these religious institutions are pilloried in the media because Catholics refuse to provide an altar for the left’s sacrament of abortion and its celebration of sexual license and dysfunction.
In spite of the FiveThirtyEight criticism, I imagine that even rural atheists are glad they have a hospital, in spite of the fact it’s run by Catholics.
Michael Shannon is a commentator and public relations consultant, and is the author of “A Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.