Nov
01
2009

The Money Taboo in Health Reform Coverage

Industry donations to powerful players often go unmentioned

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Free Grunge Textures

As powerful lawmakers debate healthcare legislation of enormous potential impact, corporate media have largely failed to explore the problem of health and insurance industries attempting to influence many of these legislators with a flood of campaign contributions. Despite Deep Throat’s urging journalists to “follow the money,” there’s a longstanding media taboo against discussing the role of campaign contributions in healthcare initiatives (Extra!, 1-2/04). This reluctance is particularly striking this year, when health industry spending on lobbying efforts and political contributions is unprecedented. In what the Washington Post (7/6/09) referred to as “a record-breaking influence campaign by the healthcare industry,” $1.4 […]

Oct
30
2009

David Swanson on healthcare debate, Bruce Dixon on the 'public option'

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Making sense of the health care debate. In the past week we've supposedly seen the comeback of public and political support for the public option, in some form or another. We're also told that Democratic majority leader Harry Reid must gather 60 votes to pass any bill. Is any of that true or is media coverage of political possibilities off base? Author and activist David Swanson will join us to try and untangle these story lines. Also, Progressives and others interested in truly universal healthcare, as in healthcare that would cover everyone, have been […]

Oct
13
2009

NYT: 'FAIR Had a Point'

Paper's public editor agrees with activists

In response to FAIR's September 22 action alert, New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt agreed (10/11/09) that the paper's September 20 article about Medicare for all excluded supporters of a single-payer healthcare system. FAIR pointed out that the article, written by Katharine Seelye, laid out many arguments against single-payer--it would mean a big tax increase, it would hurt doctors, and so on--without including balancing responses from supporters. Hoyt agreed: The Times has focused its coverage on proposals that editors and reporters judge to be politically feasible, which means that tort reform, popular with conservatives, and single-payer health coverage, popular […]

Oct
01
2009

Ex-Flak Sees Industry Script in Town Hall Attacks

Interview with Wendell Potter

Wendell Potter--Photo Credit: Center for Media and Democracy

Where has the investigative reporting been on the organizing behind attacks on healthcare reform at the “town halls” members of Congress have been holding? Wendell Potter sees private health insurance industry as involved in the situation—and he should know. Until last year, Potter was head of corporate communications at CIGNA, one of the nation’s largest for-profit health insurance companies. Before that, he headed communications at Humana, another huge for-profit health insurer. Potter started as a reporter for the Memphis Press-Scimitar and worked for the Scripps-Howard bureau in Washington before going into PR. In doing PR for Humana and CIGNA, he […]

Oct
01
2009

Healthcare Reform Minus the Public Option--or the Public

Waving the white flag and kicking the left

It was probably a given that the corporate press would mangle the debate over this year’s healthcare reform legislation, considering their poor showing in the healthcare debate of the early ’90s (Extra!, 7-8/93). The only questions were when and how. One answer came immediately, as the media shut off discussion of a popular single-payer plan before it even started (Extra!, 6/09). But in the debate the media did allow, the answer came in late summer, when “town hall” protests and the media’s fetish for bipartisanship pushed the discourse well to the right. In some ways the media’s malpractice was typical. […]

Sep
23
2009

Helping to Fill the Gap in the Healthcare Debate

Dear FAIR Supporter, FAIR loves being able to bring you recent successes we've had in standing up to the corporate media. On July 28, FAIR led an inspiring activist action where we delivered our petition signed by more than 13,000 physicians, activists and concerned citizens to ABC News headquarters in New York, demanding that the TV network open up the debate on healthcare reform to include advocates for single-payer proposals. Single-payer, or Medicare for all, is supported by 59 percent of the public and an equal percentage of physicians, but corporate media have almost entirely silenced such supporters. But our […]

Sep
22
2009

NYT Slams Single-Payer

Fails to include advocates among 'diverse' experts

The New York Times devoted some rare space on September 20 to discussing single-payer (or Medicare-for-all) health reform. The result? A one-sided account of why such a system couldn't work. With a headline like "Medicare for All? 'Crazy,' 'Socialized' and Unlikely," readers probably had a sense of what the Times had in mind with the piece, which was the latest in a series titled "Prescriptions: Making Sense of the Healthcare Debate." Reporter Katharine Seelye wrote: "Extending Medicare to all has seemed like a good idea to many--except to those who call it 'socialized medicine.' Or crazy." The Times seemed to […]

Sep
04
2009

Jordan Flaherty on Katrina anniversary, Sarah Anderson on executive pay

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Corporate media promised to pay more attention to poverty and race after the Gulf Coast's Katrina disasters in 2005, and for a short time they did a little more reporting. But where was the followup on this year’s August anniversary, when papers like the Washington Post and L.A. Times, and networks like ABC and Fox offered essentially no coverage at all. We'll talk to journalist Jordan Flaherty, reporting the story since 2005, about the stories from the continuing Katrina crisis that the corporate media don't seem to care much about. Also on the show--a […]