Last week, the pharmaceutical lobby launched a second round of TV ads in its campaign to block the House bill empowering Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices.
The ad begins:
Newspapers across America are speaking out against changes to Medicare
Wow. Sounds like a grassroots revolt. Guess those polls showing 85% of the country wanting Medicare to be able to negotiate are off the mark.
So how many newspapers “across America” are “speaking out against changes”?
In addition to the three national newspapers the first Big Pharma ad leans on (two with conservative-leaning editorial boards, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post), the new ad cites three local papers from “across America” — The Indianapolis Star, The Charleston (WV) Daily Mail and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
But one of those, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, actually supports allowing Medicare to negotiate.
On Nov. 27, 2006, its opinion page headline read (via Nexis):
OUR OPINION: Today’s topic: MEDICARE: Kick drugmakers out of bank vault; Ban on price negotiation works against patients
It then graciously granted an “Equal Time” opinion piece, so readers could get an opposing view. That’s where the Big Pharma ad took its quotes.
But Big Pharma flat lies when it says the paper itself spoke out against changes. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution did the opposite.
So in backing up the claim that “newspapers across America” don’t want Medicare to negotiate for lower prices, Big Pharma found two, and made up the third.
Some grassroots revolt.
Looks like the pharmaceutical companies’ political ads are as credible as their ads for pharamceuticals.