Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Moore v. Blitzer

By Michael J.W. Stickings

See it here.

The real outrage was not so much Blitzer, who was his usual self, tongue-tied and clueless in the face of Moore's justifiably relentless criticism, but the segment on Sicko by CNN's resident medical expert Sanjay Gupta. In what was essentially a point-by-point evaluation of the accuracy of some of Moore's statistical claims in Sicko -- with no such evaluation of Moore's critics, those who oppose reform and defend the status quo or call for greater Big Pharma- and HMO-friendly initiatives, let alone with any self-evaluation -- Gupta failed to address the most serious flaws of the American system, namely, the enormous costs even to those with insurance and the utter lack of insurance for millions. Does it really matter whether emergency room waiting times are this much longer or that much shorter in the U.S. than elsewhere? Does it really matter how much, in exact figures, the U.S. spends on health care compared to other countries, those with "socialized" health care (i.e., universal coverage)? It does, in a way, but the relative merits of different systems cannot be judged solely on the basis of selected statistics. The real problem with the American system is that it leaves out millions and destroys the lives of many of those who are fortunate enough to find coverage.

But CNN would rather attack Moore than present the truth -- and would rather present attacking Moore as analysis than report on what is really going on in American health care. (And Moore was fully right to point to all the Big Pharma ads on CNN, a clear conflict of interest.) Not that one expects much else even from CNN -- this wasn't Fox, after all, which is far worse -- but this was simply appalling.

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