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Obama Shill? Soledad O'Brien Says Factually-Correct GOP Claim Was 'Debunked'

What exactly is Soledad O'Brien arguing? On Monday's Starting Point she slapped away a factual statement that President Obama has cut Medicare funding by $700 billion as "debunked" and "very much political spin."

"But I have to tell you as I'm sure you know, that 700 million dollar figure has been – billion dollar figure has been debunked by CNN and the Congressional Budget Office," O'Brien lectured Romney surrogate Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.).

What Republicans have been saying is that President Obama chose to cut Medicare by $700 billion to help pay for ObamaCare. And according to CBO estimates, the reduction to Medicare growth has indeed increased to around $700 billion.

Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker tried to diffuse that argument. "What's important to point out as you were getting at in the interview, is that $700 billion was not cuts to beneficiaries," explained Lizza. "They took $700 billion out of payments to actually a decrease in the rate, in the rate of increase to providers." O'Brien did not disagree with him.

However, CNN did not "debunk" the $700 billion claims by saying the cuts went to Medicare providers instead of Medicare benefits. Rather, O'Brien's knee-jerk defense of the Obama administration deflects the glare away from a factual argument, that Obama did indeed slow the rate of Medicare growth by $700 billion.

And if CNN had already "debunked" the $700 billion claim, then why did Early Start co-host John Berman cite it in a serious question to Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) during the previous hour?

"One of the things that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have done is go on offense, over the weekend, on the issue of Medicare. They say the only person who's proposed any dollar cuts in Medicare is President Obama, who's plan over the next several years will actually remove 700 billion dollars in funding for Medicare. How do you respond to that?" Berman asked Van Hollen.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on Starting Point on August 13 at 7:11 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

[7:11]

Rep. RANDY FORBES (R-Va.): I think the second most dangerous approach is what the President wants to do in taking 700 billion dollars out of Medicare, which he's proposed to do.

(...)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: I want you to elaborate for me when you say Vice President Biden's plan. Give me some specifics on that. But I have to tell you as I'm sure you know, that 700 million dollar figure has been – billion dollar figure has been debunked by CNN and the Congressional Budget Office. That number has been batted around a lot.

(...)

RYAN LIZZA, Washington correspondent, The New Yorker magazine: The Medicare -- look the Republican line now on Medicare is to point out to this $700 billion figure. They are going to say, ah-ha, you want to say Paul Ryan is going to hurt Medicare, wait a second the President of the United States took $700 billion out of Medicare and used it to pay for ObamaCare. What's important to point out as you were getting at in the interview, is that $700 billion was not cuts to beneficiaries. They took $700 billion out of payments to actually a decrease in the rate, in the rate of increase to providers. So it's not beneficiaries that that – but we're going to be hearing that number a lot.


-- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center