What do I know about health care? I’m a physics writer. I’m certainly not qualified to evaluate the accuracy of “Sicko,” Michael Moore’s forceful indictment of America’s for-profit health care system. Who knows, perhaps Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s telegenic brain surgeon, had a point on July 11 when he attacked Moore’s new documentary for being sloppy on the facts.
But when I saw Moore’s subsequent CNN interview — carried on live at Moore’s insistence, to avoid being edited — I sat back and relished the moment.
Moore fought back, charging CNN and the rest of the American mainstream media with spectacularly failing to do their job of informing the public. And that’s not just because the media downplay or misrepresent the merits of the single-payer public health care systems all other industrialized countries have, Moore said. To see that we journalists are not doing our job of informing, look no further than the current mess the U.S. created in a country whose name most American journalists can’t even pronounce correctly. (I should know; I am Eyetalian.)
Apart from checking their own facts, people like Gupta could try for once to avoid brainwashing the public with ludicrous absurdities such as comparing waiting times for hip replacement in Canada and the U.S. As Paul Krugman put it in the July 16 New York Times:
It’s true that Americans get hip replacements faster than Canadians. But there’s a funny thing about that example, which is used constantly as an argument for the superiority of private health insurance over a government-run system: the large majority of hip replacements in the United States are paid for by, um, Medicare.
That’s right: the hip-replacement gap is actually a comparison of two government health insurance systems. American Medicare has shorter waits than Canadian Medicare (yes, that’s what they call their system) because it has more lavish funding - end of story. The alleged virtues of private insurance have nothing to do with it.