Thursday, July 12, 2007

CNN vs Sicko

In search of the truth?

>CNN vs. SiCKO
>Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) Action Alert
>Filmmaker Michael Moore appeared on CNN's Situation
>Room on July 9 to talk about his new film Sicko--but
>ended up having an animated discussion with host Wolf
>Blitzer about a CNN "fact check" of the film that made
>several embarrassing errors.
>The piece--dubbed a "Reality Check" by senior medical
>correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta--claimed that Moore
>"fudged the facts" when critiquing the U.S. health care
>system (click here to watch the clip
>Gupta starts by acknowledging that the U.S.
>healthcare system placed 37th in the World Health
>Organization's rankings. The fact that Moore contrasts
>this with the Cuban system led Gupta to "catch" him:
>"But hold on. That WHO list puts Cuba's healthcare
>system even lower than the United States, coming in at
>number 39."
>The fact that the U.S.'s healthcare system does about
>as well as a Third World island that's been under
>economic sanctions for the past five decades isn't much
>of a catch to begin with. But Cuba's WHO ranking
>actually appears in Moore's film. (As Moore's website
>pointed out, when CNN aired the relevant clip from his
>film, a CNN logo covered up Cuba on the list.)
>Gupta's next fact check:
>"Moore asserts that the American healthcare system
>spends $7,000 per person on health, whereas Cuba spends
>$25 per person. Not true, but not too far off. The
>United States spends $6,096 a year per person versus
>$229 a year in Cuba."
>Actually, Moore was much closer than Gupta: according
>to the Department of Health & Human Services, U.S. per
>capita healthcare spending was projected to reach
>$7,092 in 2006, and $7,498 for this year.
>On a July 10 debate with Moore on CNN's Larry King
>Live, Gupta tried to claim that these projected numbers
>were somehow invalid, as if the continuously rising
>costs of healthcare should not be taken into account
>when discussing healthcare expenditures. Ironically,
>during the same discussion, Gupta cited Medicare's
>looming insolvency as a reason not to support expanding
>the program--a financial crunch that of course is also
>based on projections of steadily rising healthcare
>What's more--Gupta's "reality check" got the film's
>claims wrong: Moore said Cuba spent $251 per person,
>not $25.
>Gupta went on to claim that Sicko portrays "medical
>utopia elsewhere," when in fact studies show the U.S.
>system is better in some respects:
>"The film is filled with content Canadians and Brits
>sitting in waiting rooms, confident care will come. In
>Canada, you can be waiting for a long time. A survey of
>six industrialized nations found that only Canada was
>worse than the United States when it came to waiting
>for a doctor's appointment for a medical problem."
>This is a grossly misleading characterization of the
>Commonwealth Fund's survey; instead of stressing that
>the study found that the United States did better than
>one country with universal care in terms of waiting
>time, Gupta could more relevantly have focused on the
>fact that four out of five of the universal healthcare
>countries studied (including Britain) outperformed the
>U.S. on the very measure that he singled out to show
>that you don't find "medical utopia elsewhere."
>It's worth noting that the study that Gupta cited
>placed the U.S. as the worst overall of all the
>healthcare system studied, placing it last or next to
>last in all but one of eight criteria, while spending
>almost twice as much per capita as the next most
>expensive system. Gupta's example was a clear case of
>cherry-picking-- selecting only the data that fits your
>argument-- something he accused Moore of doing.
>When Moore confronted CNN's Blitzer about the
>inaccuracies in their "reality check" segment, he
>responded: "Well, if we get that confirmed, obviously,
>we'll correct the record." And CNN did correct one
>thing--Gupta acknowledged his error about Cuba's per
>capita spending ($25 versus $251). On CNN's Newsroom
>(7/10/07), Gupta seemed taken aback by the whole thing,
>saying, "Yesterday there was a lot said by Michael,
>quite frankly, lots of numbers thrown around, and it
>can get admittedly somewhat confusing."
>He did not apologize for criticizing Moore for using
>current healthcare figures rather than outdated ones,
>or for implying that Moore concealed Cuba's healthcare
>ranking, or for misleading viewers about the findings
>of the survey on waiting times. "We're comfortable with
>what we presented," Gupta said, aside from
>misrepresenting what Moore reported about Cuban
>healthcare costs by a factor of 10, which Gupta
>attributed to "an error of transcribing the number down
>"As a journalist and a doctor the facts are extremely
>important to me," Gupta claimed. That priority is not
>at all evident from his report on Sicko, which instead
>suggested that his chief goal was discrediting Moore's
>film. In pursuit of that mission he ended up making
>more serious factual errors than any he actually found
>in Moore's film. Gupta's failure to retract the other
>falsehoods, beyond his "transcribing" error, suggests
>that facts are actually of little importance to him
>compared to maintaining the pretense that he is an
>expert and that activist/journalists like Moore are not
>to be trusted.
>The tendency for mainstream journalists to resist
>criticism is not surprising. Gupta's CNN colleague Kyra
>Phillips perhaps said it best when she referred to the
>second part of Moore's interview with Blitzer: "You can
>tune in to the Situation Room at 4:00 Eastern for a
>little more unedited Moore interview, if you can
>stomach it."
>The implication couldn't be clearer: If we make false
>claims about your work, it's downright rude of you to
>say something about it.
>ACTION: Contact CNN's Situation Room and demand that
>they correct the other mistakes in Gupta's "fact check"
>on Michael Moore's film.
>Situation Room
>Comment page:
>CNN President Jonathan Klein Phone: (212) 275-7800
>For more background, go to:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I watched the Moore Vs. Gupta cagefight. and I think Moore was just short of ridiculous. They were basically quibbling over numbers, Moore liked his numbers, Gupta preferred his numbers, so blah blah blah. Gupta admitted and apologized for the one really glaring mistake.

It is very annoying that CNN and other outlets feel they have to do "gotcha" journalism on Moore in order to appease their more conservative viewers. There is no doubt that this is going on in the Gupta piece.

However, Moore's become an easy target for this stuff, despite his generally good and important work, because he responds to it so foolishly. Instead of focusing on the film's message, which Gupta really was more or less in agreement with, he took the very minor and quibbling criticism as a personal attack and responded with a venom that was completely uncalled for.

And therefore he missed a great opportunity to promote the film and turned it instead into a bitter quarrel between personalities. Foolish.

The right wing portrays Moore as an unbalanced, angry guy. That's exactly how he came across here. It was very dissapointing to watch.