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Getting Out of the Situation

In This Corner, Wolf Blitzer. In that corner, Michael Moore.
Round l
by Danny Schechter
Wolf Blitzer is not my favorite TV journalist. Do you remember when he was interviewed by Jon Stewart? He was asked why the media, including him- promoted the war.

"Was it government censorship or mental retardation," was the question. Blitzer, in one of the more honest moments on television opted for the latter explanation. He was right, and I can say that as one time CNN employee.

It is often retarded, and so predictable. Back on Comedy Central, Blitzer also admitted TV journalists were not critical enough, an admission he did not repeat when Moore demanded an apology for CNN's promotion of the war.This is of course an issue that I and Mediachannl have been raising for years.

Finally, last night, three years after his last CNN performance, Blitzer finally had Michael Moore back on allegdly to discuss his film Sicko. Michael does not suffer for a lack of publicity but what happened was so, hmm, CNN ish. First, before he had a chance to say one word, the audience was instructed on the alleged flaws in the "facts" in his film in a set-up piece. Never mind that a real factchecker would tear much of CNN's reporting apart on a daily basis

The exercise was superficial, sloppy and skewed, using scenes from Sicko as B roll for a critique by CNN's Dr Sanjay Guota, a good heath communicator but hardly an expert on health care policy. [here's a link to the day-after head to head between Moore and Gupta on Larry King - lex] He had ten minutes to go after Moore's argument which he poked at but did not really refute. I saw a similar attack on Fox arguing about health care expenses in other countries with higher taxes. No mention of the points Moore raised about 47 million uninsured Americans or for that matter about the tax giveaways to the rich by this Administration. When asked about Socialized Medicine later, he said matter of factly that that is waht we have with Medicare etc.

The whole exercise pissed Moore off and he was on fire going after Blitzer for this report and a similar trash job on Fahreneit 911 years ago. There will be more of the confrontation on tomorrow night.

There was no knockout but I would score this round for Moore. He promised that he will refute Gupta's report on his website as if CNN really cared about the issue, and Blitzer, in a vain attempt to reestablish credibility, said they would report any corrections although Gupta will be on live tonight to respond to Moore who will have been taped.

Another unequal exchange. Clearly Wolf wantd Moore on the defensive, but instead the tables were turned on him and his network. Moore gave no quarter!

Fortunately, there is an emerging movement for health care reform underway inspired by SICKO.


By the way, I googled some audience survey which asked back in 2004: "Which network and anchor do you trust most for the election?"

Comedy Central (Jon Stewart) got 69%, Blitzer l percent.

As for the war as raised by Moore, there were reports yesterday that with Republican support eroding, the White House may have to announce some troop pullbacks and at least concede a failure to reestablish order. A report of some kind is due out today saying NO goals have been meet.

The Iraqi government, meanwhile is going on the air to war that if the US pulls out, their goose is cooked. No Surprise there. What was surprising and appreciated was that CBS finally reported on civilian casualties in Iraq. They gave the 650,000 Figure. And also had on an expert who said the US has to assume major responsibility. This type of journalism has only taken 4 years to materialize on TV. This is another nail in the coffin of US policy. But for "balance" in the we are not all that bad department,

There was a report by the military's best friend, CBS's Lara Logan on an Iraq veteran who adopted a handicapped orphan. It reminded me Operation Babylift, an attempt to softsoap the Vietnam War back in '75 by building sympathy for, and "rescuing" sympathetic war orphans. I did a piece on what a disaster that turned out to be for ABC's 20/20 decades ago. That same propaganda template is, sadly, alive and well.


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