Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sick of CNN

Last week i wrote on the dust up between Michael Moore Wolf Blitzer on CNN's the Situation Room. Before the actual (July 8th) interview began, CNN aired a 4 minute segment attacking Moore's new film "Sicko." (He was originally supposed to be interviewed on Larry King Live, but was bumped at the last minute so that Larry could mine the depths of Paris Hilton's intellect, for the hour, upon her release from jail.) Using alternate data (as well as a few false facts) CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta made repeated claims that Sicko "fudged" the numbers. Moore took issue.

The first salvo of sorts came from CNN a week earlier in a post on June 30th. The headline read: "Analysis: 'Sicko' numbers mostly accurate; more context needed" a a sort of back handed compliment while retaining their authority as the arbiter of truth.

July 8, Wolf Blitzer eventually interviews Michael Moore, but precedes it with an error riddled hit job (called a "reality check"!), leaving Moore no chance to face his accuser, the venerable Dr. Sanjay Gupta. You can hear Sanjay's verbal quotation marks around the word "facts" refering to Moore's movie as he then implores, "Do they all check out?"

Who needs to see anything more? Obviously CNN has the dirt on Moore's movie. Sanjay continues:

"Keeping them honest, we did some digging. And we started with a biggie. 'The Unites States slipped to #37 in the world's health care systems. " And What was Sanjay's verdict (the switch hitter goes from being a physician to being prosecuting judge and jury.
What say they all? "True" !!!

Despite being correct on this "big" fact, Sanjay goes on to criticize Moore for taking Americans to Cuba to check out their health care system. Cuba ranks 2 spots lower on the health care list. Sanjay breaths life into a straw man and doesn't even have the decency to challenge Moore in person on the "facts."

When Moore makes the point that The US spends much more than Cuba for in some respect better results, Sanjay quibbles with Moore's numbers.

"Moore asserts that the American health care system spends $7,000 per person on health. Cuba spends $25 dollars per person. Not true. But not too far off. The United States spends $6,096 per person, versus $229 per person in Cuba."
Even if Sanjay's numbers had turned out to be more accurate (They didn't), they still would have supported Moore's underlying contention. Dr. Sanjay Gupta's report on CNN was flawed and petty.

July 10, During the first interview with Wolf Blitzer, Michael Moore promised to put all the numbers to the test up on his website. Amongst the lies, the damn lies and the statistics we see that Sanjay was all wet when he said: "But no matter how much Moore fudged the facts, and he did fudge some facts…"

July 10, With both sides smelling blood in the water and tasting ratings gold, Moore went head to head with Dr. Gupta on Larry King Live. The interview bore out th fact that Sanjay used different older stats and misquoted figures from Moore's movie.

July 14, Michael Moore used the victory in this verbal sparring battle as fodder for an open letter to CNN, pressuring them for an apology and to set the record straight and admit their errors (if not outright bias).

July 15, CNN responded with it's own open letter saying it had responded 6 days earlier, owning up to one mistake, claim it had corrected it and apologized. But to use a line from CNN, "But hold on." Sanjay's open letter to Moore does own up to one mistake. But this had already been proven. Nice of Sanjay to finally admit it. But where was the apology? Sanjay's response came off like a continued endictment.

July 17, Moore goads CNN with a second open letter.

Sheep in Wolf's Clothing

July 20, I don't know what Yiddish is for chutzpah, but Wolf Blitzer takes the cake. Blitzer was blindsided by Moore in the first interview. He himself wasn't conversant with the facts (that's why he ran that sloppy piece by Sanjay) and when forced to back up the numbers he could only retort: "I don't if you're familiar with Dr. Sanjay Gupta's record with virtually anyone's record in the business... He's not only a doctor and a neurosurgeon but he's also an excellent, excellent journalist." Now they are spinning his interview as proof that "CNN's Blitzer tackles interviewees ready to put up a fight." This is revisionist history at its most recent.

1 comment:

Cyclogeek said...

Michael Moore deserves credit for encouraging public discourse. It is interesting and disconcerting, how so many in the media actively distance themselves from Moore by prefacing any review of his work with comments on Moore's "biases" and weaknesses. It seems to me that any activist, expert, or anyone worth interviewing has biases -- why else would they care to be involved? I suspect there is lingering fear in the media of being associated with Moore becuase of his prior criticisms of Bush...

Instead of attacking Moore, when will we actually get down to reporting and discussing the topic at hand? We really need to, because our system doesn't work for too many people...