If you haven’t seen "Sicko", Michael Moore’s courageous and pioneering documentary on American health care or lack thereof, please get out there and support it while it’s in the theaters.
CNN’s "Situation Room" ran a hatchet job by media medical expert and, it appears, healthcare industry lobbyist, Sanjay Gupta. The invaluable media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has an alert on Gupta misinformed spin.
I was so disgusted that I called CNN and sent an email, included below.
This is the only way to get institutions–whether media, corporate or governmental–to mend their ways. You have to give them an earful and let them know you’re watching.
From: Svend White
Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s misinformed aspersions on Michael
Moore’s well researched and compelling documentary on
America’s shamefully discriminatory health care turned
my stomach. As a parent of limited means struggling to
pay medical bills for his infant daughter–bills left
over, it should be noted, despite my having paid
through the nose for health insurance–I am shocked
that CNN would engage in such underhanded tactics.
Gupta’s "fact checking" grossly misrepresented the
issues and evidence. CNN needs to get the facts
straight before it takes shots at people who are
trying to do something about this diseased system.
Gupta makes a big deal out of the fact that Cuba is
listed even lower than the USA on the World Health
Organization’s international health care rankings,
implying Moore to be hoodwinking his audience–though
the list containing Cuba appears in the film–but
neglects to point out the essential and obvious
context: Cuba is a third-world country, not to mention
one that has been under a crushing economic embargo
for decades. For the most powerful and wealthy nation
in the world to be *only* 2 rungs above Cuba (#39 vs.
the US’ #37) is an absolute scandal of which Gupta
seems blissfully unaware.
Gupta also takes Moore to task but reveals himself to
be in need of tutoring from his target. First, in a
curious move for a fact checker, Gupta misrepresents
*both* Moore’s film and the evidence the film cites.
He chides Moore for claiming that Cuba pays $25 per
capita, when the film actually said $251 and then
faults Moore for estimating the US expenses at $6,000
per capita, claiming that the correct figure is
$6,096. Wrong again. According to US Department of
Health statistics, we spent $7,092 last year and are
expected to spend $7,498 this one. And then he
seriously misrepresented an international study,
crowing that the USA beat Canada in wait times, but
overlooking the fact that we had longer times than
everybody else under review (Australia, Germany, New
Zealand, and the UK). Moore did his homework. Why
As Gupta has noted, these issues are complex, so
perhaps this was an honest mistake. Moore’s website
and media watchdog group FAIR have provided evidence
to rebut his charges. Now the onus is on him as a
"fact checker", expert and independent critic to set
the record straight for the sake of the public relying
on CNN for their news. If he does not do so, it will
be difficult not to take him for yet another industry
shill, one of the diseased health care industry’s many
hired guns in the media.
Finally, I must say that I’m disturbed that CNN felt
the need to attack Moore’s much needed contribution to
the national discussion. Serious discussions about the
shameful state of health care in America and the role
of the industry in creating these problems are
chronically rare in the mainstream media. Thanks to
Moore’s documentary, we’re experiencing a brief moment
of debate on a matter that is a burning issue for
millions of Americans. Given how rare such debate
occurs, I would hope for CNN to display some
objectivity and neutrality, providing a platform for
long overdue debate, rather than rushing to censor
Moore like Fox News.
Perhaps people working for CNN are blessed with
reliable and reasonably priced health insurance. If
so, I’m happy for them. But many Americans are stuck
paying exorbitant fees for minimal services and
sometimes must choose between getting needed medical
care or putting food on the table.
Please don’t add to our problems by misrepresenting
the facts with hatchet jobs of this sort. Kindly leave
the industry lobbying to the industry lobbyists. I’m
sure they’ll have the media singing their tune again
soon enough, anyway. Grant the millions of us living
without health insurance this one moment of dignity.