David Edwards and Josh Catone
July 10, 2007
Before a live interview with documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, CNN aired a segment entitled "Sicko Reality Check" in which Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the network's chief medical correspondent, aimed to keep Moore "honest" and fact check his new film, Sicko.
The 4-minute piece concluded that Moore "did fudge the facts," and implied that Sicko was misleading in portraying health care systems in other countries, such as France, the UK, and Canada, as better than the one in the US.
When given a chance to speak, Moore immediately put host Wolf Blitzer on the defensive.
"That report was so biased, I can't imagine what pharmaceutical company's ads are coming up right after our break here," said Moore. "Why don't you tell the truth to the American people? I wish that CNN and the other mainstream media would just for once tell the truth about what's going on in this country."
Moore argued that CNN has such a lousy track record of reporting the truth about the war in Iraq and asking tough questions, that Americans should be skeptical of their reporting on health care.
"You're the ones who are fudging the facts," said Moore. "You've fudged the facts to the American people now for I don't know how long about this issue, about the war, and I'm just curious, when are you going to just stand there and apologize to the American people for not bringing the truth to them that isn't sponsored by some major corporation?"
Blizter grew defensive and backed up his fellow CNN employee, saying that he would stand behind correspondent Sanjay Gupta's record on medical issues. Moore, in response, vowed to post a rebuttal to his website, MichaelMoore.com, showing that Gupta's facts weren't accurate.
"I'm going to put the real facts up there on my website," said Moore, "so that people can see what he just said was absolutely wrong."
Turning to the war in Iraq, Moore accused Gupta, who spent time embedded with US troops in Iraq, and the mainstream media at large of refusing "to ask our leaders the hard questions, and demand the honest answers." Moore laid the blame for the continued US involvement in the war in Iraq at the feet of the media, arguing that they failed to do their jobs and question the Bush war policy.
Blitzer refused to argue with Moore about Iraq, and instead steered the conversation back to the topic of health care. Moore was asked which of the US presidential candidates he thought would best fix America's health care system.
Moore did not name a specific candidate, but said that the Democratic candidates as a whole need to be more specific about how they plan to achieve their goal of universal health care.
"Our own government admits that because of the 47 million who aren't insured, we now have about 18,000 people a year that die in this country, simply because they don't have health insurance. That's six 9/11s every single year," concluded Moore. We need "universal health care that's free for everyone who lives in this country, it'll cost us less than what we're spending now lining the pockets of these private health insurance companies, or these pharmaceutical companies."
After the interview, Blitzer found sympathy from fellow CNN hosts Lou Dobbs and Jack Cafferty.
"After watching that Michael Moore interview," said Cafferty, "I've decided whatever CNN's paying it ain't enough."
The following video is from CNN's The Situation Room, broadcast on July 9.