Opinion: Sarah Palin’s ‘death panel’ charge voted biggest lie of 2009


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Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin got a lot of mileage out of her allegation last summer that the healthcare reform bill touted by President Obama and moving through a Democratic Congress sanctioned ‘death panels’ that would choke the life out of the nation’s seniors.

In one of her Facebook posts on the issue in August, Palin wrote, ‘The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.’


Now, the nonpartisan, Pulitzer Prize-winning Truth-O-Meter run by the St. Petersburg Times, says that Palin’s assertion won an online contest as the biggest political lie of the year.“Of all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest,” writes the fact-checking site. ‘The claim set political debate afire.’

The “death panels” allegation -- one of the sparks that ignited the tea party movement of angry town hall meetings last summer -- accounted for 61% of about 5,000 votes cast at to determine 2009’s Lie of the Year.

Runners-up included Glenn Beck’s claim that Obama science advisor John Holdren favored forced abortions, Orange County dentist Orly Taitz‘s claim that Obama was born in Kenya, which helped spark the birther movement, and Vice President Joe Biden’s claim that swine flu spread because “when one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft.”

-- Johanna Neuman

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