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Post Calls Left-Wing Organization a Consumer Group

     The term consumer group conjures up the image of some George Bailey-esque fighting for the little guy. At The Washington Post, that has become the code for a left-wing, anti-industry group. The latest example of this appeared in a more-than-1,800 word piece attacking the medical insurance industry.

     Reporter Dean Starkman wrote about a study by the Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumers Rights, a consumer group, that claimed medical insurance losses were far less than claimed by the industry. However, Starkman also pointed out that the foundation is funded in part by tort lawyers who sue doctors and hospitals in malpractice cases, as well as corporations in product liability cases.

     The Post made 17 other references to consumer groups in December, according to Lexis-Nexis, including a dozen named organizations. Of those 12 named groups, eight were left-wing and advocated a wide range of big government positions such as higher taxes, mandated living wage rules and increased regulation. The groups include: Public Citizen, Public Interest Research Group, the Consumer Federation of American and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

     The latest mention was consistent with the way that group was portrayed. Buried near the end of the piece, was the openly political nature of the two authors of the study. The first, Harvey Rosenfield, was described as a 53-year-old lawyer, consumer activist and protg of Ralph Nader. Rosenfield was the author of Proposition 103, a sweeping series of insurance regulations that passed over bitter industry opposition in 1988. The other was Jay Angoff, a former Missouri insurance director and industry critic who wrote a study negative on the industry last summer that itself has drawn heavy criticism from trade groups.

     While the Post story included that background, it didnt add that the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights claims to be a non-profit, non-partisan group, but prides itself on fighting Big Business and is, in no way, a neutral consumer group. The groups Web site is filled with anti-industry headlines like Stop Insurance Industry Rip-Offs and The Phony Insurance Crisis. It claimed: The insurance industry is trying to deceive you.