A Verbal Slip on Countdown

by Wendell Potter on November 19th, 2010

What a difference a word can make — nothing short of the difference between good and evil.

During my interview on Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC Wednesday night, I explained the sinister work of an industry-funded front group to discredit Michael Moore as a filmmaker and citizen and especially of his 2007 movie Sicko. The PR firm hired by health insurers to do the evil deed set up and operated the front group, which it named “Health Care America,” to conduct a fear-mongering campaign designed to scare people away from the movie’s core message: that every developed country in the world except the United States has been able to achieve universal coverage for their citizens largely because they don’t allow big insurance companies to call the shots like they do here. I wrote about this in my book, Deadly Spin, in the chapter entitled “The Campaign Against Sicko.”

I inadvertently called the front group “Health Care America Now” in response to a question from Keith Olbermann. That misstatement has led to some confusion, so I want to set the record straight. Health Care for America Now is one of the good guys, in my view. It is a real grassroots organization comprising a broad range of groups throughout the country advocating for “quality, affordable health care.” Health Care America was what is commonly known as a fake grassroots or “Astroturf” organization. It was set up and operated by a big PR firm and funded by Big Insurance and Big Pharma.

For more information about Health Care for America Now (also known by its acronym, HCAN), visit its Web site at healthcareforamericanow.org. For more information about Health Care America, click this link, which will take you to the Sourcewatch.org page that describes the organization. The Web site for Health Care America no longer is active. It was dismantled shortly after its work to discredit Michael Moore and Sicko was done.

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