“Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Loederman sold his medal for $765,000 to pay medical bills”

“Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Loederman sold his medal for $765,000 to pay medical bills”

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Vox and much of the media spun the death of Nobel Price recipient Leon Lederman with this unusual meme:

But in 2015, the physicist, who passed away Wednesday, sold his Nobel Prize medal for $765,000 to pay his mounting medical bills.

Source: Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Loederman sold his medal for $765,000 to pay medical bills – Vox

The Vox story says nothing about his career or his discoveries that led to being awarded a Nobel prize. And the implication that he had $765,000 in “mounting medical bills” is false. Vox also misspelled his name!

At the time he sold his medal, he did not yet have medical bills. He and his wife chose to raise funds to pay for future, potential long term care bills. As his wife said “the medal itself has never meant that much to the couple”.

Depending on the care required, and it likely evolved from “less care” to “intensive care” over the next 3 1/2 years, costs of long term care in Idaho range (in 2018) from $21,000 to nearly $90,000 per year (or up to $100,000 in Oregon in 2018). The medal was sold in May of 2015; he died 3 1/2 years later.

Ellen says the real reason they decided to sell the medal is that 92-year-old Leon’s health is deteriorating and they may need the money for his care.

….

Ellen Lederman says winning the Nobel was a great honor but the medal itself has never meant that much to the couple. When visitors ask about it, she says they take the medal out of the cabinet and let their guests play with it.

Ellen Lederman says the couple hadn’t planned on selling the medal. And when the Los Angeles-based auction company Nate D. Sanders Auctions reached out to them, she thought it was a scam. But she says the company checked out and the Ledermans decided to give it a try.

Source: Boise State Public Radio

Vox used the occasion of his death, not to celebrate his life, but to write a misleading story about health care policy. The story becomes a propaganda advocacy item that never says why Lederman won a Nobel Prize. Compare the strange Vox report to the detailed report made bythe NY Times.

The way to respond to accusations of fictional news reporting is to double down on accuracy, objectivity and remaining calm. Unfortunately, the news industry continues to harm itself through self destructive behavior typical of middle school drama. This behavior is bewildering.

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