In June 2009, Wendell Potter made national headlines with his scorching testimony before the Senate panel on health care reform. This former senior VP of CIGNA explained how health insurers make promises they have no intention of keeping, how they flout regulations designed to protect consumers, and how they skew political debate with multibillion-dollar PR campaigns designed to spread disinformation.
Potter had walked away from a six-figure salary and two decades as an insurance executive because he could no longer abide the routine practices of an industry where the needs of sick and suffering Americans take a backseat to the bottom line. The last straw: when he visited a rural health clinic and saw hundreds of people standing in line in the rain to receive treatment in stalls built for livestock.
In Deadly Spin, Potter takes readers behind the scenes to show how a huge chunk of our absurd healthcare spending actually bankrolls a propaganda campaign and lobbying effort focused on protecting one thing: profits. Whatever the fate of the current health care legislation, it makes no attempt to change that fundamental problem.
Potter shows how relentless PR assaults play an insidious role in our political process anywhere that corporate profits are at stake - from climate change to defense policy. Deadly Spin tells us why - and how - we must fight back.
The Campaign Against Sicko
Most of the two thousand people who crowded into the Grand
Théâtre Lumière at the Cannes Film Festival early on Saturday
morning, May 19, 2007, for the world premiere of Sicko, Michael
Moore's indictment of the U.S. health care system, rose to their feet at
the end of the film and gave Moore and his new documentary an astonishing
fifteen-minute standing ovation.
One young man, however, could not stay to applaud because of an urgent assignment. Largely unnoticed, he slipped out of the theater and made his way to his hotel room, where he placed a call to the organization in Washington, D.C., that not only had covered his trip to the French Riviera and his ticket to the premiere but also paid his salary.
Dialing America's Health Insurance Plans, he was immediately patched into a conference call where dozens of insurance executives, including me, waited anxiously on the line. All knew of the threat to the industry; ...
Potter's closing chapters expand from the detail he shares about one American industry to a much broader issue – the shrinking of traditional journalism and the substitution of spin and opinion for objective information sources. Potter discusses a key element of what librarians often call information literacy. When we can no longer identify the source of critical, factual information – like our news or the data used to create legislation – how can we trust its accuracy? The lessons from Potter's book stretch beyond the one contentious issue of American health care. The phrase "required reading" may be overused, but I think it applies doubly here. This book should be on those lists in schools and colleges that first gave rise to the term; and readers, like me, who are past the stage of formal education should likewise add this title to their self-made list of essentials.
(Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).
Full Review (852 words).
Deadly Spin unravels misinformation surrounding the contentious topic of American health care. Considering that Wendell Potter has shown how difficult it is to uncover the truth about such a widely discussed issue as this, where can the average citizen turn to find unbiased facts? Some suggestions include:
This website features the political fact-checking work of the reporters and editors of the St. Petersburg Times. PolitiFact received a Pulitzer Prize in 2009. This site pays particular attention to the promises and policies of the President.
Launched in 2003, Factcheck is a project of the nonprofit Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, and researches and documents the truth ...
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