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November 23rd, 2010 6:12 AM

Michael Moore Meets Wendell Potter on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Part 2 - 11/22/10

OLBERMANN: We'll resume where we were now in the first conversation between the former CIGNA executive, Wendell Potter, now an insurance industry whistleblower, and Michael Moore, the film director of "Sicko."

Michael, you were saying before the commercial interrupted, you tried to follow up with a question to Wendell.

MOORE: Well, I was just -- I'm sorry. And I just -- this is the first time we have had a chance to talk. And I just want to say, first of all, you're the Daniel Ellsberg of corporate America.

I mean, what that man did during Vietnam helped to end that war. And it would be my wildest dream that what your courageous action has done here to -- and not just about my movie and me. People should read this book.

I mean it is -- the whole book lays it right out there about how the health insurance companies had bamboozled this country and lied, just outright lied about things. And it-- to have you say in the book that what I said in the film that everything in there is true and that this is -- that is what it's like in Canada. That people do have it better. They do live three years longer.

It just -- I just was just amazed as I turned every page of this book. And I was just, you know, thinking that this big fear of theirs, that there might be a populist uprising against the insurance companies because I believe that if people listen to what you have said and what you're righting that eventually that will happen because people will see them for the organized crime syndicate that they are.

That's what they're set -- they're set up not to help you with your health. They are set up to make a profit. And the only way they make a big profit is to deny as much health care as possible to the people trying to get help. That's the bottom line.

It's a sick, rotten system. And for you to come forward like this is just -- it's just really -- I'm just -- I just can't say enough for what you have done.

POTTER: Well, thank you, Michael. But you know I've been doing this for not even 18 months and you and many other people have been advocating for, you know, good health care reform for much longer than I have. So I'm glad to finally be on what I think is the right side this time and to do what I can to try to pull the curtains back so people can see exactly what these companies do to win and to manipulate public opinion, to influence public policy which is at the core front of what I've been writing about.

OLBERMANN: Let me jump in, Wendell. APCO, that PR film, issues a statement today that seems to contrasts some of the previous remarks you made about this personal APCO research on Mr. Moore.

Let me quote them. "APCO did not conduct research on Michael Moore's family. We did not attempt to suppress turnout for his movie."

Explain what you know about the personal research that was done on Michael Moore and his family.

POTTER: Yes, I think whoever wrote that, I think, she was just protesting too much. The industry did an enormous amount of research on what we thought was going to be in the movie and on Michael Moore as a movie maker.

I myself did. I have seen every one of Michael Moore's movies, read all three of his books, I've seen all 24 episodes of "The Awful Truth." I know where you went to school. I know when you dropped out of college. I know who you are married to. And so I know a lot about you.

Everybody in the industry knows a lot about you. We needed to know as much as we could, not that we necessarily were going to be using that if we didn't have to. One of the things that I was afraid about doing what I'm doing was that I would be attacked not by the industry directly by but its allies which shows to try to attack my character and my reputation. So that what goes on in a lot of the campaigns like this.

MOORE: When this -- when you were doing this research and this spying on myself and my family, what -- I mean, to what ends, really? Because, you know, obviously, they don't want to -- they don't really want to have the debate on the issue, whether or not a for-profit health insurance system is what's really best for Americans.

POTTER: Right.

MOORE: They want to do it -- it seemed like their main goal was, if people get in to see that film, we're doomed. So we've got to make sure as few people see that film as possible. And the way to do that is to smear Michael Moore, call him anti--American, say that he is not telling the truth.

And as you said the other day, you said that you -- that you guys were ready for plan B. If that failed, if the movie was getting too much traction, that it might be necessary to push me off a cliff --

POTTER: Right.

MOORE: -- were the words. What exactly did that mean?

POTTER: Well, I was in that meeting and those words indeed were said. And it was not literal, obviously. But I think it meant that we would do what we had to do to create ads and op-eds that we would get conservative pundits to place in newspapers with the whole objective of, as they call it, reframing the debate, to try to move the attention from them to you as a filmmaker.

MOORE: I know we're running out of time but I just -- I notice a lot of the comments that Bush made about me in his recent book, it's like the exact language that's in the health industry insurance plan about me, about what names to call me.

POTTER: Right.

MOORE: How to refer to me. Do you -- I mean, and I notice on this -- on your group, you had Bush administration officials as part of -- were on the board of the fake organization, Health Care America. I mean what --

POTTER: Right.

MOORE: What's the connection there?

POTTER: Yes. We had a lot of Republicans and a lot of conservatives on the board. And people who were pollsters for the Republicans and -- were becoming pollsters for the industry and for Health Care America. It was all connected.

OLBERMANN: Gentlemen, I'm out of time but it's been time extraordinarily well-spent.

Wendell Potter, former CIGNA executive, and Michael Moore, of course. Thank you, gentlemen, appreciate it.

POTTER: Thank you. Thank you.

MOORE: Thank you. Thank you, Wendell.

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