Thursday, March 5, 2009

Gupta out of the running for Surgeon General - I say good riddance

You can read a bit about it here. Over at Think Progress, there's a reminder of why Gupta is so toxic:
He encountered criticism for “his mugging of Michael Moore over Sicko” and for having a cozy relationship with drug companies.
Of that mugging, Paul Krugman reminded readers in January:
I don’t have a problem with Gupta’s qualifications. But I do remember his mugging of Michael Moore over Sicko. You don’t have to like Moore or his film; but Gupta specifically claimed that Moore “fudged his facts”, when the truth was that on every one of the allegedly fudged facts, Moore was actually right and CNN was wrong.

[snip]

In other words, he accused Moore of lying. That’s a very strong accusation, which had better be backed by solid evidence. Instead, we had CNN misreading a number from Moore; CNN objecting to Moore using a projected health care spending number for 2007 instead of an actual number for 2005 (and the projection was right, by the way); CNN accusing Moore of not showing a number that was in fact right there in the movie. And Gupta did not apologize, except for the misread number.
Back in 2007, Moore summed it up thusly:
"In the report they say that I fudged the facts," he said, "and they didn't find a single fact that I fudged."
In fact, Moore managed to give Gupta and CNN a good hiding that year (see 'SiCKO' Truth Squad Sets CNN Straight, and 'SiCKO' Truth Squad Sets CNN Straight -- Again), culminating in this statement:

Friends,

The mighty CNN, in a lengthy and sad online defense of their woe-begotten 'Sicko' story of last Monday, has admitted that they did indeed fudge at least two of the facts in their coverage of my film and have apologized for it:

1. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN: "To be clear, I got a number wrong in my original report, substituting the number 25, instead of 251." -- My Conversation with Michael Moore, July 11th, 2007; and

2. CNN: "Moore is correct. Paul Keckley left Vanderbilt in late 2006." -- CNN's Response to Michael Moore, July 15th, 2007.

Furthermore, CNN confirmed that all of our statistics in "Sicko" are the correct numbers from the sources we cited. Although CNN still prefers to use older World Health Organization statistics, we will stick to using this year's Bush administration stats and more recent U.N. data. (In "Sicko," we consistently use only U.N. Human Development Statistics unless it's for studies they don't do or have recent numbers for.) CNN did apologize for these two factual errors, but no apology seems to be coming for the rest of their errors. These days, to get the mainstream media to admit they were wrong is rare; to get them to admit it twice, as they have with "Sicko," I guess should be considered a whopping victory. Will they eventually apologize for the rest, or for their reporting on the war? Will the Cubs win the World Series this year?

So the truce has been signed, the peace pipe has been smoked. And the public is left with a much more cautious and wary eye when it comes to CNN. To be fair, this is what happens when you have to grind out "news" 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a staff you have shrunk through layoffs over the years (like all the broadcast networks have done). You end up rushed and having interns do your research. You have robots replace live camera operators. And, if you're CNN, you are constantly dodging the accusation that you are "too liberal." So when you do a piece on someone like me, you have to make sure you add superfluous and standard ad hominems attacking me simply to prove that you are NOT too liberal. I get it.

Until the last month or so, I have not appeared on a single national TV show for nearly 2 and 1/2 years. After the attacks I had to endure three years ago, from a media intent on questioning my patriotism because I dared to speak out against the war when none in the media would, I decided I had had enough and would simply concentrate on making my next film. I had no desire to participate in networks that were complicit in the war because of their refusal the challenge the commander in chief.

I have to admit, though, I do feel kinda bad taking it all out on Wolf Blitzer. It's not like he's the official representative of the mainstream media. I mean, he's from Buffalo, for crying out loud! He said to me at the end of the show last week to please come back on "anytime you want." I will take him up on that offer and appear again with him tomorrow [UPDATE: Michael's appearance on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer has been postponed. More details soon.]. I'm not expecting a dozen roses or make-up sex -- I only want a promise that there will be no more distorted distractions so we can have a decent discussion about the REAL issues like why 18,000 Americans die every year because they don't have a health insurance card. More than 300 of them died this week. As Ehrlichman said to Nixon in "Sicko": "The less care they give 'em, the more money they (the insurance companies) make."

THAT'S the only thing we should be talking about. How profit and greed are killing our fellow Americans. How profit and private insurance have to be removed from our health care system. CNN should join me in asking why our 9/11 rescue workers aren't receiving medical care. Somebody should send a crew to Canada to find out why they live longer than we do, and why no Canadian has ever gone bankrupt because of medical bills. And all of the media should start saying how much it costs to go to a doctor in these other top industrialized countries: Nothing. Zip. It's FREE. Don't patronize Americans by saying, "Well, it's not free -- they pay for it with taxes!" Yes, we know that. Just like we know that we drive down a city street for FREE -- even though we paid for that street with our taxes. The street is FREE, the book at the library is FREE, if your house catches on fire, the fire department will come and put it out for FREE, and if someone snatches your purse, the police officer will chase down the culprit and bring your purse back to you -- AND HE WON'T CHARGE YOU A DIME FROM THAT PURSE!

These are all free services, collectively socialized and paid for with our tax dollars. To argue that health care -- a life and death issue for many -- should not be considered in the same league is ludicrous and archaic. And trust me, once you add up what you pay for out-of-pocket in premiums, deductibles, co-pays, overpriced medicines, and treatments that aren't covered (not to mention all the other things we pay for like college education, day care and other services that many countries provide for at little or no cost), we, as Americans, are paying far more than the Canadians or Brits or French are paying in taxes. We just don't call these things taxes, but that's exactly what they are.

See you all when I'm back on CNN tomorrow -- where the discussion will be not be about whose statistics are right, but rather about the guy without insurance who died while I was writing this letter.

I also noticed that Moore's front page refers to Gupta as a "fact fudger" which seems quite apt. I'm sure that Obama will find some equally toxic, albeit lower-profile, for the position. As for Gupta, any time I happen to see him on the boob toob I ask myself just how much of his "information" is correct.

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