Mark Larson: Fact Checker?

by Robert Maynard

By now most True North readers are familiar with the demolition job that Newsweek’s Lynnley Browning did on Vermont’s bungled attempt to set up its own exchange.  Apparently, so is Department of Vermont Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson.  It appears that Mr’ Larson is concerned with the factual accuracy of the strory, according to this Seven Days article.  According to Larson, “It makes for an interesting story, but I’m not sure it’s an accurate story.”  It is hard to picture Mark Larson in the role of fact checker.  When he was Chairman of the House Health Care Committee, Larson stated repeatedly that he believes moving forward with Green Mountain Care will save Vermont $1 trillion over the next ten years – or, in other words, 180 years worth of health care costs at current levels.  He seems to be unphased by the irony of his role as a fact checker.  Too bad for him, Newsweek does not  appear to be intimidated:

On Monday, Larson sent Newsweek a lengthy rebuttal, highlighting eight sections of the article he labeled as everything from “purely speculative and backed up by no evidence” to “simply not true.”

But Newsweek doubled down on “Doubling Down.”

“We completely stand by the story and are utterly confident about our sources,” editor-in-chief Jim Impoco said in an email. “If there are any errors of fact we will gladly correct them. We too thought it was a wonderfully incendiary story.”

Of course, if the facts are not on you side, there is always the well worn tactic of slandering the messenger:

As for why Newsweek picked up on the story, Larson noted that the data hub issue has long been an obsession of Shumlin’s 2012 Republican gubernatorial opponent, Randy Brock, and of Brock’s de facto campaign manager, Darcie Johnston, who runs Vermonters for Health Care Freedom.

“I think that Darcie Johnston and Randy Brock have been consistent about raising this connection about the federal data hub, and that is a very important component of the entire speculation of the Newsweek article,” Larson said.