Thursday, July 12, 2007

Media make you sicko

Michael Moore is a documented liar who uses "omission, exaggeration and cinematic sleight of hand" to make his political points. But that doesn't seem to matter to the media who cover his movies. Now journalists are using "Sicko," which opens June 29, to make a giddy, unabashed case for socialized health care in America - and even urging Moore to run for office.

He shows "compassion" and "generosity," he's a great "campaigner" and an "adroit politician," reporters have declared. He's "taking on America's deeply flawed health care system," said Terry Moran on ABC's "Nightline" June 13. And ". the point his movie ultimately makes: fixing health care is a moral, even a religious obligation." Moran led Moore into a dialogue about "Sicko" as a statement of "faith."

"Father Michael Moore - hard to imagine, maybe, or maybe not," Moran said, after learning Moore once ventured to seminary. "Well, try this one: Senator Michael Moore."

The media have been in awe of Moore's film and Moore's charisma, and enthusiastic about the idea of socialized medicine. Overall, coverage has glossed over Moore's distortions in favor of keeping the snowballing policy discussion going. A May 2007 CNN poll indicated 64 percent of respondents "think the government should provide a national health insurance program for all Americans, even if this would require higher taxes." Compare that with November 2006, when Gallup asked whether people would maintain the current U.S. insurance system or would replace it with a government-run system. Only 39 percent said they would welcome the government-run system. Media health hype has certainly increased this spring, using "Sicko" as a jumping-off point.

"Americans may be inching toward the idea that a truly universal system may be the only way to guarantee that we can all afford some coverage," wrote Howard Fineman in the June 18 Newsweek. Some journalists couldn't hold back the gushing praise for Moore and the film:

* "The film emerges as a fascinating exploration and powerful indictment of a pressing national problem," wrote Claudia Puig in the June 22 USA Today. Puig praised Moore's "biggest, best and most impassioned work," claiming it was not "too politically charged."

* "There's something different about this Michael Moore movie," said ABC's Terry Moran on the June 13 "Nightline." "For all the laughs, it's very serious and laced with qualities not usually associated with his films: pity, compassion, generosity, sorrow."

Moore is hardly making his case for socialized medicine alone. In addition to coverage of him and "Sicko," the media have taken the ideas in his movie and run with them. In just the two weeks before the opening of Moore's movie, ABC, CBS and NBC have done numerous health care stories including: the "national disgrace" of children who don't have health insurance; children of illegal immigrants who don't get health insurance; baby boomers caring for aging and sick parents; how the Dutch are taller than Americans because of better health care; a homeless patient who got kicked out of a hospital; and failures of the military's mental health system.

ABC used one extreme, tragic example in the wave of stories advocating a health overhaul. The network did two segments on a Los Angeles emergency room where a woman in urgent need of treatment was ignored by ER personnel and died. "It is stories like this that have led us to take on health care as a major focus for us here on `GMA,'" said reporter Chris Cuomo on the "Good Morning America" June 13. But those stories weren't a coincidence - they were tied in with ABC's coverage of "Sicko."

Cuomo: "It's an election year; this [health care] is a big issue facing everyone. We want you to go to the Web site at, tell us stories about what has gone wrong, about what has gone right, because obviously this is a situation that we need to change. Robin?"

Robin Roberts: "Yeah. And right, and your talk with Michael Moore. More of your conversation in our next hour."

Cuomo: "He is certainly taking on the issue."

Roberts: "Yes, he is."

When they weren't using examples of bad hospitals to advocate socialism, reporters were acknowledging critics of "Sicko" existed - without including their criticisms. On the June 22 "CBS Evening News," reporter Jeff Greenfield said "Sicko" "champions more or less uncritically a government-run health care system," describing the film as "affecting stories of personal suffering at the hands of indifferent corporations" and a celebration of Canada, France and Britain. "The film does not include critics of those systems," Greenfield said. Neither did Greenfield.

Greenfield featured health analyst Paul Ginsburg of the Center for Studying Health System Change, who was supposed to explain why no presidential candidate has thus far announced a Michael-Moore-style health care policy. The reason? "Americans are just different," Greenfield said. "We're much less willing to have government make decisions for people than is the case in Canada and Europe," Ginsburg said. "It's a cultural difference."

Greenfield could have interviewed a health expert who had facts to compare the countries' health programs - in economics, availability and quality. Michael Tanner, director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute, has written about some of those differences. For example, the National Health Service (NHS) in Britain - which Moore showed in a glowing portrait in his film - has about 850,000 people waiting for admission to its hospitals, Tanner wrote. "Every year, shortages force the NHS to cancel as many as 50,000 operations," Tanner said. "Roughly 40 percent of cancer patients never get to see an oncology specialist."

Though Moore used life expectancy as a main measure of U.S. care compared to Canada, France, Britain and Cuba, Tanner explained that wasn't a measurement experts would choose. "Most experts agree that life expectancies are a poor measure of health care," Tanner said, because so many outside factors affect them - including violent crime, poverty, obesity, tobacco and drug use. "When you compare the outcome for specific diseases such as cancer or heart disease, the United States clearly outperforms the rest of the world," Tanner said.

Throughout "Sicko," Moore referred to health care in Canada, France, Britain and Cuba as "free." That notion has been only nominally challenged in the majority of media coverage. Chris Cuomo questioned Moore on the June 12 "Good Morning America" about the "huge tax burdens" of the countries with "free" health care in his movie. But when Cuomo asked, "Do you think you pay too little attention to that in your film?" Moore said "No," and Cuomo left the topic.

Just as ABC's Cuomo paid lip service to the taxes that fund socialized medicine, Moore's film dismissed it with a ludicrous example. In "Sicko," Moore visited what he called an "average middle-class family" in France to prove that taxes weren't a burden to them. The couple, who had two children shown on the video, said their combined income was $8,000 per month. That's almost $100,000 per year - not exactly "average middle class." But Moore expected viewers to be satisfied with this well-off couple's smiles and nice house, accepting that "free" health care wasn't really costing anyone anything.

USA Today's Richard Wolf provided some refreshing honesty in his June 22 piece, reporting the drastic difference in countries' tax rates: "In France and Britain, the tax burden is 42% and 27% respectively, as opposed to 12% in the USA, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development."

Wolf also noted Moore's exclusion of insurance industry and U.S. health care representatives from his film and said "`Sicko' uses omission, exaggeration and cinematic sleight of hand to make its points." Cuban dictator Fidel Castro himself had to admit his surgery was "botched" by Cuban doctors last year, as The New York Times reported May 27. Moore left that detail out of his film, which depicted Cuba as one of the supposedly utopian health care sites.

In a rare display of enlightening context, NBC's Matt Lauer addressed Cuba's "free" health care system with other information about the country on the June 5 "Today" show. Far from Moore's free-prescription paradise, he told viewers "the typical Cuban family uses the black market for even basic goods." People aren't exactly free there - "most Cubans are not free to use the Internet." "Dissent in any form is not tolerated by the Cuban government, which limits outside influence," Lauer explained.

Yet, in a June 13 "Nightline" interview on ABC, Moore had the audacity to say Cubans enjoy "artistic freedom." "I hung out with artists who, who are critical of Castro, and very freely speak their minds," Moore said. ABC's Terry Moran added that "human rights groups, like Amnesty International, say Cuba continues to repress nearly all forms of dissent." Clearly, Moore had spoken from ignorance or outright lies - but the media at large didn't hold him accountable for such statements.

More here

Your bureaucrats will protect you

Australia: The police had to raid a government health department to get it to act!

A MAN accused of spreading HIV allegedly infected two women with the deadly virus after officials twice closed his case file, believing he was not a public health risk. And the Department of Human Services issued an order compelling Solomon Mwale to have safe sex only after police executed a search warrant on its offices.

A woman allegedly infected with HIV by Mr Mwale told Geelong Magistrates Court yesterday that she fell in love with the 38-year-old after a meeting in a video store developed into a passionate, three-year affair. "I trusted him and I believed inhim," the alleged victim - who said she had no idea of the man's HIV status - told the court. "I will take my love for him to the grave." Mr Mwale was committed to stand trial on three counts of engaging in reckless conduct that placed a woman in danger of serious injury between February and November 2004. He pleaded not guilty.

The case follows that of Michael Neal, committed to stand trial earlier this year on charges of intentionally spreading HIV. Evidence of departmental inaction in that case triggered the sacking of the state's chief health officer, Robert Hall.

Evidence heard at the Geelong court yesterday showed public health officials failed to act to curb Mr Mwale's alleged unsafe sex practices, despite repeatedly receiving evidence the accused man was ignoring DHS warnings. DHS nurse Elizabeth Hatch told the court that Mr Mwale first came to the attention of the department's Partner Notification Office - which monitors individuals suspected of recklessly spreading HIV - in December 2003. Mr Mwale was counselled on his obligations not to infect others and his file was closed because he was not considered a health risk. "No further action needed - case closed," said the file notes.

But in January 2005, a doctor notified the department after a newly diagnosed patient told the GP she had been infected with HIV by Mr Mwale. Ms Hatch told the court she interviewed Mr Mwale after the notification, when he admitted to having sex once with a woman outside of his marriage, but insisted he wore a condom. "We thought we really didn't have much evidence to say it was a public health risk if he had used a condom," she said. Ms Hatch said she contacted the doctor who had notified the department to check Mr Mwale's version of events against the time in which the patient had been diagnosed with HIV.

The doctor did not call back, she said, so the file was closed on March 10, 2005, with a note: "We have had no further contact from physician re time frames. No extra information so we will now close this case again." Under cross-examination by Mr Mwale's barrister, David Sexton, Ms Hatch agreed that she would have kept the case file open if she had any concerns that Mr Mwale was continuing to practice unsafe sex. When Mr Sexton asked why she did not continue to investigate the 2005 allegation against Mr Mwale after the GP did not call back, Ms Hatch said she believed the doctor concerned would monitor the accused man. "It was because I knew the doctor and I knew the clinic, and if they had been concerned or worried, they were very good at making sure things were followed up correctly," she said.

The court heard that nine months after closing Mr Mwale's file for the second time, the DHS became aware he had infected a woman other than the alleged victim in yesterday's case. At that point, a letter of warning to Mr Mwale was signed by then chief health officer Robert Hall, but orders restricting his behaviour were not issued until after police seized material during their investigations into the case. Mr Mwale was ordered to appear at the Victorian County Court on August 7.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


1 comment:

Jeffrey Dach MD said...

What is the real solution, if Michael Moore’s government sponsored universal health care is not the answer?

The crux of the "SICKO" documentary is the disconnect between our expectations and the reality of health care. We are expecting compassionate care from another human being, and instead we get a faceless corporation. The person behind the desk or window is an agent of a health care corporation, which is not a human being, whose primary goal is to increase corporate profit.

This is America, and corporate profit is good, the profit motive forming the basis America’s greatness. The basic problem is that a corporation is not a human being. Therein lies the fallacy of replacing a corporation with a government agency, neither of which is a human being, when what we really want is a human being to deliver compassionate health care, and assist in serious health care decisions.

Ultimately we must at some point ration health care to avoid national bancruptcy. We can't provide everything for everybody. Moore's film, SICKO replaces the corporate health company with the government agency as the agent of this care rationing.

My major point here, is that the larger issue which is ignored by the SICKO film, is the control of medical information, which then determines expenditure and rationing patterns. The control of medical information controls the money. This is explained fully at:

Review of "SICKO", by Jeffrey Dach MD

Jeffrey Dach MD