Nov 17 2009

On Healthcare, Don’t Follow the Money

WaPo's new rule of journalism?

The Washington Post‘s Shailagh Murray (11/17/09) wrote a profile of Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D.-Ark.) as one of the Democratic senators most likely to break with the rest of the party on healthcare reform. The article seemed to invert the advice Deep Throat once gave to the Post‘s Woodward and Bernstein into a new rule: Don’t follow the money. Headlined “A Centrist in Healthcare Debate, Lincoln Hears It From All Sides,” the piece presented Lincoln’s stance as something of a puzzle: “Hundreds of thousands of Lincoln’s constituents are low-income and lack insurance, the very kind of voters expected to benefit under […]

Nov 13 2009

Trudy Lieberman on healthcare, Laurie Williams & Allan Zabel on cap & trade

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Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin : a source from a senior citizens group quoted in the Washington Post said the group’s main challenge today is simply to try to keep the record straight about what’s actually in the health care reform bill, as opposed to what’s being claimed about it. That would seem to be the basic challenge facing reporters, too, but have they been too caught up with coverage of congressional politicking to do justice to it? We’ll hear from journalist Trudy Lieberman on the health care reform story. Also on the show: Two EPA lawyers have been […]

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 […]