When one of our best investigative newspapers has slipped to such depths that it's publisher invites health insurance execs hellbent on killing any hint of public options to hobnob with, and thus lobby, top-level White House officials at a private soiree in her own home (but only if they fork over $25,000), and when nobody else seems to notice or care, we can give up any remaining quaint notion of a watchdog press.
We're on our own, folks, and if not for the precious few like Bill Moyers and Rachel Maddow, we would be dead in the water. They are the mainstream media remnants of a once-proud profession and we need to treat them like the treasures they really are.
They study the issues, they bring on guests who can discuss them intelligently, they ask the right questions, they give their guests time to answer thoughtfully, they continue the conversation with smart follow-ups, and best of all, they don't give up their precious air time to raucous, spitting catfights between notoriously biased opponents.
Last week, Bill Moyers brought to our attention two important stories. (See above for the first one)
On "Bill Moyers Journal" on PBS Friday night, Bill talked with Wendell Potter, a former Cigna exec turned whistleblower. In Potter's own startling words (startling not because we didn't know, but because a former insider, someone who, less than two years before, was a practicing purveyor of these professed sleazy tactics, said them):
“The industry has always tried to make Americans think that government-run systems are the worst thing that could possibly happen to them, that if you even consider that you're heading down the slippery slope towards socialism... I think that people who are strong advocates of our health care system remaining as it is, very much a free market health care system, fail to realize that we're really talking about human beings here, and it doesn't work as well as they would like it to... They are trying to make you worry and fear a government bureaucrat being between you and your doctor. What you have now is a corporate bureaucrat between you and your doctor... The public plan would do a lot to keep [health insurance companies] honest, because it would have to offer a standard benefit plan. It would have to operate more efficiently, as does the Medicare program. It would be structured, I’m certain, on a level playing field so that it wouldn’t [have an] unfair advantage [over] the private insurance companies. Because it could be administered more efficiently, the private insurers would have to operate more efficiently.”
The interview is a half-hour long. Later into it he outlines the insurance industry's efforts to discredit Michael Moore's documentary, "Sicko", when they saw the truth in it and were afraid the American people might believe it, too. This to me was a stunning admission, the entire interview an astonishing piece of journalism--again, not entirely surprising, but I saw a door opening, enough for us to wedge our foot in. Wan rays of sunshine about to turn dazzling, if only we can keep the momentum going.
I beg everyone who reads this and clicks onto the link to send it on to everyone you know. Send it to your congressmen, your governors, your legislatures, the White House. Get an email chain going--put the link up on yard signs or billboards. Put it on bumper stickers. Stencil it on tee-shirts or tattoo it onto your forehead. Whatever it takes.
This is a television event too important to let die. Please. Keep it alive. Keep it going. It's up to us now.
(Cross-posted on Talking Points Memo here)