In Response to Obama’s Deal

Below is Kevin Zeese’s, Executive Director of ProsperityAgenda.US, response to Frontline’s Obama’s Deal.

If you would like to send your comment to PBS about Obama’s Deal, please go here.

I really hope you will respond to this email because I was quite disturbed by the bias shown by Frontline in its two reports on health care this year. The common bias shown in both shows was a refusal to discuss the most popular health care reform in the United States among the public, doctors and nurses — single payer, Medicare for All.

In the most recent show, Obama’s Deal, Frontline showed protesters at the Senate Finance Committee meeting but did not explain why we were protesting. As one of the people shown in the video on Frontline I found this disturbing. We were protesting because the Finance Committee (and Obama as well) decided to exclude single payer from the discussion — while saying, as Frontline showed — all options are being considered. In fact, one option, the most popular and cost-effective was excluded. Sadly, it was excluded from Frontline as well.

And, while Frontline showed Dr. Margaret Flowers, it did not show her position, i.e. single payer, even though she discussed it in her interview (unaired portion, of course). And, it described her as an angry liberal — when in fact she is a common sense and well-informed doctor who is very pragmatic, acting based on facts and evidence, who wants to see the US have the best health care in America. But, her position was not mentioned.

The exclusion of single payer was a critical part of the story to explain Obama’s deal with the insurance industry. The exclusion of single payer showed that right from the outset Obama had made a deal with the industry (which was shown ad naseum in Frontline — to much of the insurance industry view), his deal was to preserve the industry, indeed to guarantee tens of millions of new customers and hundreds of billions in new annual revenue to the industry. It would have been an important part of the story to explain that the industry, which makes up 31% of the cost of health care and not even needed, as insurance does not provide health care, just waste, bureaucracy and immense CEO salaries, was protected right from the very beginning by Obama. Instead, this was left out of the history of the health care debate.

In the other health policy show, Sick Around America, T.R. Reid who wrote the story said that the one commonality of all the different European health systems was left out — none have a for profit insurance industry. The for profit health insurance industry is what makes the US unique and explains why we spend twice as much per person on health care. Reid would not even put his name on the show because that critical fact was excluded. Again, the single payer model, which dominates Europe, was never mentioned.

We expect better from PBS and Frontline. Accurate reporting, not biased reporting in favor of the corrupt insurance industry. What is the justification for not telling Americans the whole story, for leaving out the most popular and effective national health plan? Single payer is the only way the U.S. can afford to provide quality health care to all Americans. The law put in place by Obama and the Democrats is not financially sustainable, does not control costs, leaves tens of millions without care and undermines Medicaid by stretching it too thin. It is not a positive step forward, but that was not explained by Frontline. See my review of the law here.

I really look forward to an answer because it is extremely disturbing to see such blatant bias on PBS.

Kevin Zeese
Executive Director


  1. Tommie on April 20, 2010 at 10:47 am

    We must get rid of “for profit” healthcare! Which means out with insurance and gouging pharmaceutical companies!!

  2. Carlos on April 20, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    I would love to see Healthcare for all,I may be naive or too optimistic, however there most another way to be creative and begin a health program that can get started with some goverment push without been run totally by the gov. It seem that corporate has gotten to greedy and gov. to burocratic. There most be a way out of this labyrinth. Maybe there can be a stimulus pachage and a corporate not for profit can be initiated and people can become members and the ball can start rolling. THERE MOST BE A WAY OUT!

  3. Doris V on April 20, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Universal single payer is the only rational choice. People in several states are trying to get a single payer type reform package working in their states. I am a volunteer with the Health Security for all New Mexicans campaign. Hopefully we will still be able to do something at the state level. Our hands maybe tied due to some language in the federal bill. The USA is the only industialized country without single payer health care access. We have a grand mess in this country caused by the health insurance and drug industries and their money-grubbing, screw the consumer ways. When will we learn that without good health care access “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” means little.

  4. Joseph on April 20, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Here is what I wrote the ombudsman today.

    I have been a viewer of Frontline for decades, and was thankful that it provided a more in-depth look at issues. I was particularly offended by the lack of journalistic integrity in the recent airing of “Obama’s Deal”.

    During the debate I wrote my representatives multiple times advocating single-payer. When citizen advocates of single-payer were denied even a “seat at the table” during the hearings, and took the courageous step of civil-disobedience, they were arrested. I wrote a letter to my local newspaper the next day in outrage.

    For Frontline to deliberately omit the basis for that civil disobedience, and to marginalize the participants as merely a “liberal base”, or as an “angry liberal”, was journalistic “spin”. I expected better from Frontline, after all, it is not Fox News.

    I am a small business owner who strongly supports single-payer for both financial and health reasons. It does work, it will reduce medical care costs, and it is morally right because it will remove the profit-motive from health care decisions.

    Frontline should provide airtime for a response from the many very qualified advocates of single-payer in this country.

  5. elsie osinski on April 20, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I believe single party payer as the most effective health care system,I studied the Norwegian system at the Unniversity of Oslo for a summer in graduate school. We traveled the country observing health care and guided by a physician teacher. Why we did not adapt this system I do not understand. considering cost of health care, if the troops were brought home and wars ended we would have the money. I have had 41 years as a teacher, administrator of nursing plus many years at the bedside and also surveyor at the Joint Commision so I understand the needs of healthcare.

  6. Hamish Gowans on April 21, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    My response:
    Furthermore, to swirl single-payer activists who are advocating a much more effective path to universal health care than Obama’s reform with those who support incremental reform while keeping for-profit insurance companies central is a disservice to the public and a propagandistic gloss on the progressive stance. Single-payer Medicare for All is the most popular system in all polling, but to lump those who want single-payer together with Obamacare simply because they are all to the left of the status quo is poor reporting.

  7. Deborah Conley on April 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    We need to look at the root of the problem. Chomsky’s assessment pretty much sums it up: “A year ago, the business world recognized that the insurance companies and big Pharma, in sharp defiance of the public will, had succeeded in destroying the possibility of serious health reform – a very serious matter, not only for the people who suffer from the dysfunctional health system, but even on narrow economic grounds. About half of the deficit that we are instructed to deplore is attributable to unprecedented military expenditures, rising under Obama, and most of the rest to the increasing costs of the virtually unregulated privatized health care system, unique in the industrial world, also unique in its gifts to drug companies – opposed by a mere 85 percent of the population. Last August, Business Week had a cover story celebrating the victory of the health insurance industries. Of course, no victory is enough, so they persisted in the struggle, gaining more, also against the will of the large majority of the public, another interesting story I’ll have to put aside.”

    This,my friends is what we are up against.

  8. Mason Taylor on April 21, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    I wrote the PBS ombudsman protesting the omissions. Frontline should have included the reasons why the doctors were protesting, why they got arrested. I said allocating federal money to guarantee rising profits to hospitals, doctors, Pharma, and insurance would not solve our healthcare problem. I ended asking if Liberty Mutual or other insurance companies had threatened to remove sponsorships at PBS. I asked if PBS or Frontline had been corrupted like politicians Max Baucus, Harry Reid and Obama by the medical industrial comples.