On Saturday, Micheal Moore posted an open letter to CNN, blasting the network: “still no apology, no retraction, no correction of your glaring mistakes.”
Warning CNN that “I ain’t ever going away,” Moore pledged to “start looking into the veracity of other reports you have aired on other topics.”
CNN quickly posted a response, concluding with, “We have laid out the facts, plain and simple.”
Dean Baker, whose earlier blog post factored in to Moore’s fact-checking, found CNN’s response lacking.
In regards to the dispute over the health care cost comparisons between the U.S. and Cub, Baker observes “it suggests that CNN has no one familiar with social science research on their staff.”
And in regards to CNN reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s criticism of Medicare, the focus of my own blog post, Baker states:
While CNN is correct in saying that funding for a portion of Medicare (Part A) is not assured under current law beyond 2019, funding for most government programs is not even assured beyond the current fiscal year. Yet, CNN’s analysts have probably never asserted that the Defense Department or the Justice Department face bankruptcy because their funding for next year is not assured.
It is understandable that a partisan in the debate to privatize Medicare would claim that the program faces bankruptcy. It is difficult to see why an ostensibly neutral news outlet would make this claim, since it conveys no information to viewers.
Conveying information to viewers doesn’t seem to be CNN’s highest priority.
Interestingly, CNN’s Larry King Live dedicated another hour to the health care crisis. The panel featured Jonathan Cohn, whose latest book “Sick” advocates a government guarantee of universal health care.
And Cohn dramatically pressed the chief lobbyist for the health insurance industry to support “guaranteeing health insurance to every American,” and exposed her weaselly response that she only backs “guaranteeing access to all Americans.” (Supporting “access” to health insurance is the nice-sounding way to avoid admitting you don’t support actually providing the insurance to everyone.)
It was a fairly substantive hour. But did anyone watch?
The show aired at 8 PM ET Friday. Cable news draws less viewers on Friday nights than the rest of the work week. Plus, CNN didn’t rerun the segment for West Coast prime-time viewers, as it always does for Larry King shows that air at its usual 9 PM ET slot.
Apparently, CNN didn’t take Ted Koppel’s advice.
Two years ago, in a CNN appearance, Koppel chasistized cable networks for being in “a desperate race to be first with the obvious.” When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer tried to defend CNN, Koppel wouldn’t have it:
BLITZER: I will point out to you, Ted, that CNN does have an excellent documentary series called, “CNN Presents,” that we air on Sunday nights, over the weekend. Last weekend, a fabulous one-hour look inside North Korea.
KOPPEL: Tell me, again, when is that on?
BLITZER: It’s on Sunday nights.
KOPPEL: Sunday nights. I see.
BLITZER: Sunday nights, a lot of people watch television on Sunday nights, you might be surprised.
KOPPEL: Not that many. You know, if CNN was serious about that, it would put it on Monday evenings and Tuesday evenings and Wednesday evenings.
You know, those are the times, compete with the networks. Go up against the networks in primetime with some of those broadcasts. I agree with you. You do some fantastic stuff … but don’t bury it on a Sunday night.
It appears CNN is trying to protect its reputation by having a substantive health care discussion, so it can say it did, but burying it on a Friday night. (Perhaps they will even lament that they really really tried, and it’s not their fault no one watched.)
Moore’s letter ends with a call to “get back to more important things. Like a REAL discussion about our broken health care system. Everything else is a distraction from what really matters.”
There’s nothing stopping “the most trusted name in news” from doing just that, and actually conveying important information to voters so they can make informed decisions about their health care system.
A one-time Friday night panel doesn’t cut it.