Apr
10
2009

A Victory for Media Activism

Single-payer healthcare has proven to work well in other countries. It has been proposed in a bill with considerable congressional support, itpolls well with the public, and it's supported by a majority of physicians.

So why is it so rarely mentioned in corporate media?

In the wake of a Frontline documentary that failed to examine single-payer national healthcare system as a possible alternative to the U.S. healthcare system, even PBS's own ombud is asking the question.

Citing FAIRâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s recent study, "Media Blackout on Single-Payer Health Insurance," which documented that single-payer advocates were all but shut out of the media discussion about healthcare reform, ombud Michael Getler stated:

I find myself in agreement with those who wrote initially and who felt it was a missed opportunity by Frontline to shed some light on where this specific idea–clearly telegraphed in the previous program about how other countries do it, enjoying some level of popular and professional support and formalized in a bill before Congress–stood in today's political environment.

The ombud's report marked a victory for media activists who wrote in to complain about the program in the wake of a critical article by Corporate Crime Reporter's Russell Mokhiber (founder of the website Single Payer Action)and a FAIR Action Alert.

FAIR had criticized the film for misrepresenting the findings of Frontline's earlier documentary, Sick Around the World, which had emphasized that other countries ban insurance companies from making a profit on basic care, and had discussed single-payer alternatives, including Taiwan's healthcare system.

The only alternative to the current U.S. healthcare system that was examined in any depth in Sick Around America was Massachusetts' system of mandating that people buy insurance from for-profit health insurance companies. The documentary implied that all developed countries that provide universal healthcare have similar systems.

Today, FAIRâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s radio program Counterspin airs an interview with T.R. Reid–aFrontline reporter for Sick Around the World who quit the production of Sick Around America because it contradicted the earlier Frontline documentary.