Published on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 by CommonDreams.org
PBS Lashes Back over Single Payer Dustup
Last week, I wrote an article - "Something is Rotten at PBS"  - about a slanted PBS Frontline documentary - "Sick Around
Frontline hired former
Reid did the reporting.
He turned over his interviews to the Frontline producers.
And they came back with a documentary Reid couldn't agree with.
Frontline tried to get Reid to narrate the film anyway - whether he agreed with it or not.
Reid and Frontline parted ways.
After "Something is Rotten at PBS" ran last week, I got a ton of e-mail.
So did Frontline.
"Something is Rotten at PBS" struck a nerve.
This week, Frontline lashed back.
Frontline issued a statement yesterday attacking "Something is Rotten at PBS" - saying that the article "falsely characterizes both the reporting in ‘Sick Around
Frontline defends "Sick Around
Frontline says that "Sick Around America," in fact, "made no assertions about the path health care reform should take, but simply reported on the current state of health insurance in the country, focusing primarily on how inadequacies in the current private health insurance system, both for-profit and non-profit companies, were negatively impacting many Americans."
T.R. Reid, on the other hand, was an advocate with a point of view, Frontline said.
"The dispute with Mr. Reid centered on a decision to include a section on the recent attempts by
"Reid repeatedly told Frontline that including Massachusetts in the program at all, was to advocate for that kind of reform as opposed to Reid's preference of a ‘Medicare for all,' one payer system for the entire country."
"Frontline's position was that simply reporting on the state's plan was not advocacy and, in fact, our reporting would focus not only on the benefits, but also on the problems with the
Frontline noted that "on March 17, just three weeks after he asked to be removed from the film, a Denver magazine reported that T.R. Reid said he was interested in being appointed to a vacant seat in the Colorado House of Representatives, citing that his concerns about health care reform in the U.S. were ‘enough to push him from the reporting side over to the policy-making side. And he thinks
"Frontline's editorial guidelines explicitly state that ‘when working on any politically controversial programs the producer [or correspondent] should engage in no personal political activities...and should not lobby for or against any specific piece of legislation.'"
"In the end, Frontline believes the dispute centered on a conflict between Frontline's journalistic commitment to fair and nuanced reporting and its aversion to policy advocacy and Mr. Reid's commitment to advocacy for specific health care policy reforms, for positions he apparently advocates in his forthcoming book."
Reid is biased.
And Frontline is an objective, neutral observer.
I couldn't reach Reid to respond to Frontline's attack on him.
But last week, he told me he didn't think single payer could pass in
Instead, he favored giving Americans an option to buy into a public plan that would compete with private, regulated non-profit health insurance companies.
Reid has a point of view.
So do I.
I believe the health insurance corporations - whether for-profit or non-profit - are engaged in what should be considered criminal activity - selling basic health insurance to the American people to gain profit, outrageous salaries, power and privilege.
And these private insurance companies are deserving of the death penalty.
Other countries like
So, I have a point of view as to how to remedy the situation. (In fact, I, and a group of friends last month launched singlepayeraction.org - to secure single payer health care in the
Our motto - no compromise with the health insurance industry.
Either we die first.
Or the health insurance corporations die first.
Fight to the finish.
(By the way, according to a
Reid has a point of view.
I have a point of view.
But the Frontline producers don't have a point of view?
Is that why they included no advocate for single payer in their documentary?
Is that why they included no advocate for a point of view supported, according to recent polls, by the majority of Americans, the majority of doctors, the majority of health economists and the majority of small business people?
Is that why they included no mention of single payer in their documentary?
(Frontline says I made a factual error by assuming that Karen Ignagni, head of
I salute T.R. Reid for telling Frontline and PBS to go stuff it.
As for his advocacy for a public plan to compete with the private insurance companies - I disagree with him.
A single payer doc in
The health insurance industry is like a vicious dog, Dr. Ross said.
Those who would create a public plan to compete with the health insurance are just kicking the dog in the face.
The dog is going to counterattack and rip your face off.
Better to put the dog out of his misery.
Yes, singlepayeraction.org has a point of view.
Death to the health insurance corporations.
Health and life to Americans.
Donations can be sent to the
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs