Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike In The News

November 18th, 2010 4:03 AM

Wendell Potter on the Anti-SiCKO Smear Campaign on Countdown with Keith Olbermann -- 11/17/10

OLBERMANN: Last night, we told you about the anti-government health care congressman-elect who demanded his government health care the very day he starts his new job. Today, the anesthesiologist from Maryland attempted to remove the foot from his mouth and botched the procedure.

Also, in our fourth story, more details on the health care industry's covert attempt to submarine the health care reform they promised to facilitate -- and explosive revelations from health insurance company whistleblower Wendell Potter who says his own company, CIGNA, was so scared of what Michael Moore's 2007 documentary "SiCKO" would do to its bottom line that they sought a, quote, "campaign to push Michael Moore off a cliff."

Michael Moore has responded, Wendell Potter is our guest next.

First, to doctor-elect, congressman, whatever, Andy Harris. Yesterday, "Politico" reported the account on an anonymous staffer who was in the room with Harris for his freshman orientation. He had campaigned on repealing health care reform. He was allegedly steamed when he found out he had to wait a month for his government subsidized health care to kick in.

Today, in an interview with FOX, Dr. Harris disagreed with the portrayal of his tone, but not the content of the report, quoting, "It was a simple question any employee should ask. Oh, and by the way, how do I get my health insurance to be seamless?"

The new lawmaker, who has previously said there is no constitutionally mandated role of the federal government in health care, then suggested, quote, "The best solution would be for the federal government to say, yes, we do provide coverage and it's from day one." For him. Not for you.

Today, "Bloomberg News" revealing the extent to which insurance companies went to kill the reform that we did get, citing tax records and people familiar with the donation. "Bloomberg" reports that on August 2009, America's Health Insurance Plans, AHIP, the advocacy group that represents companies like United Health, and Aetna, and Humana, funneled $86.2 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which in turn spent that money on advertising, polling, and a grassroots campaign to defeat health care reform.

Publicly, AHIP was onboard with health care reform. Recall AHIP CEO Karen Ignani's pledge to the president in March of last year.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

KAREN IGNANI, AHIP CEO: We want to work with you. We want to work with the members of Congress on a bipartisan basis here. You have our commitment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: And then there was the commitment by the health care giant Cigna to professionally and personally discredit Michael Moore. Former Cigna spokesman-turned-whistleblower Wendell Potter writing in his new book, "Deadly Spin," that Moore's 2007 documentary "SiCKO" would inspire politicians to push for universal health care.

From the book, "If Moore's movie attracted big audiences and generated a lot of buzz, it might embolden one or more Democratic candidates to join Representative Dennis Kucinich in endorsing the expansion of Medicare to cover everybody. The increasingly profitable insurance industry would find itself in a war for survival."

Potter telling Democracy Now and Amy Goodman, that his company contacted or contracted, rather, a PR firm to, quote, "defame Michael Moore," to discredit him. To figuratively, quote, "push Michael off a cliff."

(START VIDEO CLIP)

AMY GOODMAN: But they were doing an investigation into him personally.

POTTER: Well, absolutely. We knew as much about him probably as he knows about himself.

GOODMAN: About his wife, about his kids.

POTTER: Oh, yes. You know, it's important to know everything that you might be able to use in some kind of a campaign against someone to discredit them professionally and often personally.

GOODMAN: And do you use that?

POTTER: You use it if necessary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Joining me now, as promised, former communications director at Cigna, now senior fellow on health care at the Center for Media and Democracy, and author now of the new book, "Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans," Wendell Potter.

Good evening, sir.

POTTER: Hi, Keith. How are you?

OLBERMANN: Did you -- did you use the ample research on Michael Moore?

POTTER: Yes, of course. But not -- we didn't have to push him off a cliff.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

POTTER: That didn't -- that wasn't necessary. And it wasn't just Cigna. It was the entire industry. And, once again, AHIP played a key role in funding the strategy, the plan to discredit the movie.

OLBERMANN: I should point out you and Mr. Moore have agreed to appear on this program together jointly for the first time next Monday.

POTTER: That's right. That's right.

OLBERMANN: But tonight, Mr. Moore has responded at "Huffington Post" and disagrees with your contention that the smear campaign was successful. He says his movie did, in fact, bring health care reform to the forefront of many minds, particularly in Washington. But he did say, "Their smear campaign was effective and did create the dent they were hoping for -- single-payer and the public option never made it on to real discussion on the floor of Congress."

What do you think of Mr. Moore's assessment of that campaign?

POTTER: Well, it was -- he had a good movie. And I think people who saw it with an open mind knew that he was -- he made a good movie and it told the truth. But he's exactly right. The movie did not have as much of an impact as it might have been had it not been for the smear campaign and the efforts to discredit both Moore and the content of the movie.

OLBERMANN: And did you -- did I read this correctly, that you got stuff from these talking points? From this smear campaign into mainstream representations of Moore at New York Times, perhaps?

POTTER: Oh, absolutely. It was funnel through AHIP into a front group called Healthcare America Now, which was received by mainstream reporters, including The New York Times, as a legitimate organization when it was nothing but a front group set up by APCO Worldwide, a big PR firm that works for both the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. It was not anything approaching what it was reporting to be as a grassroots organization. It was a sham group.

OLBERMANN: You mentioned AHIP. We'll talk more about Mr. Moore when you're both here on Monday, but the "Bloomberg" report that AHIP spent $86 million to stunt or stop health care reform, you know, in this nightmare fantasy, chairing up with -- teaming up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- what did they get for their $86 million?

POTTER: They got a Republican Congress, for one thing. And they got a bill that is kind of like the cake. And now they're wanting to eat that cake, too.

The insurance industry played the Obama administration like Stradivarius. And they did the same things with the members of the Tea Party. The Tea Party folks may think that Congress might repeal this legislation, but there ain't that chance because what the insurers like about this is the requirement that we all have to buy their products, and there's no public option to funnel any of that money away from them. They'll be getting new revenue that will be converted into profits for their shareholders.

OLBERMANN: Four House Democrats signed a letter today asking that Republicans like this congressman-elect, Dr. Harris of Maryland, who do not believe that government has a role in health care and are largely in Congress because that's what they ran on, that they should now put their mouths where their money is and opt-out of their government subsidized congressional benefits.

Does the kind of proud hypocrisy of Dr. Harris and others like him surprise you at all?

POTTER: Oh, not at all. What we saw during the campaign was demagoguery at its worst and fearmongering at its worst. And what you see from what Harris said was just the way they really are, what they really feel, and what they really believe.

OLBERMANN: Wendell Potter, the former Cigna executive, the new book is "Deadly Sin," it is an extraordinary document -- great thanks, sir.

POTTER: Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: And we'll see you and Michael Moore on Monday night.

POTTER: See you Monday. Thank you.

Tags:

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

My father, Francis (Frank) Moore, passed away this morning a few months shy if his 93rd birthday. He was a great dad I am blessed to have had him in my life. I...

Apr 20th
2:58 AM
Read More

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... www.theonion.com President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles