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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Global TV for Obamacare

Poor Americans.  They are actually getting both sides of the debate while considering whether they should adopt the “Obamacare” national socialized medicare system proposals floating around Washington.

Especially telling, one gathers, are ads by lobby groups opposed to the  change. And if tonight’s “Global National”  TV news broadcast is any indication, one has to wonder if reporters and editors at one of Canada’s most viewed suppertime broadcasts would like to wade into the debate on the President’s side.

Readers may look at the broadcast for themselves. It’s located here –just cue up the July 21 broadcast which is online already.

The teaser for the story before the commercial break refers to Canadian Shona Holmes, who appears in an ad for Obamacare opponent and lobby group Patients United Now. News anchor Kevin Newman, shortly before the 9:42 left in the broadcast mark, cites “a health care scare” and asks about the ad “but what is it she’s NOT telling Americans.” (Hmm, you might think, maybe the lady is lying or something…)

Mr. Newman introduces the story, by reporter Paul Johnson, ending with the observation “…special interests [in the U.S.] are proving effective again in changing the focus from their system to ours…” (Cue ominous music?)

You can’t fault Americans who like, and don’t like, the proposals for looking to Canada for evidence for what they believe. It only makes sense that they would want to look at a country with socialized medicine which has the most similar culture, population and economy to the United States that they could possibly find…such as Canada. It’s smart to look at Canadian examples, studies and statistics in this area. Unless you are working for Global TV on this particular news story. The ad which is the main subject of the story is not refuted in a general way.

Paul Johnson’s story begins by citing Shona Holmes in a 6 second clip from the ad: “If I relied on Canada’s health care system, I’d be dead by now.”  They then show a clip from U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell on Canadian medical wait times. Mr. Johnson then talks to Amy Menefee of Patients United Now (which made the ad) and finds the–shocking!–admission that they are citing accounts from people who are unhappy with the ads instead of “sending a team inflitrating into Canada”.

Due to patient confidentiality regulations, most pro-Obamacare ads will have to cite ancedotal testimonials from people in Canada who are happy with their care. However, I suspect that I will be waiting a month of Sundays for a similar Global TV story warning against the other side of “special interests” doing the same thing.

Where is the Canadian medicare advocate or supporter complaining about the ad, for “the other side” of the question, you might ask?  Nowhere to be seen in this TV story. It’s faster for Global TV to just editorialize. (Certainly journalists do have a point of view, but the trick is to quote experts that you agree with. Just asserting opinions to be fact makes you sound like the bad old days of Radio Moscow.)

Back to Shona Holmes. Reporter Johnson adds: “Shona *did* get her operation, but she got it in Arizona. She did it the *American* way–she borrowed money from friends and got a second mortgage on her house.” 

This is the shocking revelation promised by anchor Kevin Newman? I guess that Holmes was supposed to wait for an operation in Canada and possibly die while on the waiting list, in order to prove her point that Canada’s medicare system is flawed and overburdened.

Doesn’t the fact that she had to go to the U.S. for her needed operation tend to show that the ads made by the opponents of Obamacare might be, uh, correct?

Global TV probably got these extra details from Shona Holmes, or from supporters of Canada’s medicare system.  Given that Global TV is already stating as fact that Shona Holmes is “not telling Americans” the whole truth, wouldn’t the next step be for Global TV to follow up and send reporters and cameras to the hospital and health authorities where Holmes lives and compare when she would have recieved the operation in Canada, using factual information from officials, to when she did get the operation in the United States.

Proof that Holmes would have recieved the operation in a timely manner would refute efforts in the United States to change “the focus from their [medicare] system to ours.” Did Global TV even try to find it? I suspect not, as comments intended to undercut someone’s anecdotes of problems with Canadian medicare are simpler to offer and take less work.

The TV news story offers no proof–citing the specific example of Shona Holmes–that she would have received her needed operation more quickly in Canada than in the U.S. or that she would not have died on the waiting list. If you, as a TV reporter, imply that a speciific example cited in an ad is false, refuting it is something you really need to do.

If you can.

And if you can’t, well, what you find, should (in fairness to Shona Holmes) also be broadcast on the news too. If that were to happen, though, Global TV would not be able to complain if Patients United Now used what Global would find out  in future TV ads against Obamacare. I’d suggest that that would not be a bad thing.

Update: Although Holmes was told by Canadian doctors that she had a presumably fatal "brain tumor", doctors at the Mayo Clinic found that the "tumor" that she had was going to make her blind.

This provides difficulty for the Global TV reporters. If, and I emphasize if, the Mayo Clinic's diagnosis is correct, that implies that the Canadian socialized medicare system was incompetent in finding a presumably fatal brain tumor. And wouldn't it sound ghoulish for Global TV to report something like "She said she was going to die in the ad, but she was *only* going to go blind" ?

Reporting the details might make Global TV viewers think, "Hey, I'd say that the focus should be on the Canadian system with things like that happening. Why do we have to wait for an ad from an American lobby group to hear about cases like these?" 

Posted by Rick Hiebert on July 21, 2009 in Media | Permalink


Hey Rick Hiebert - you obviously aren't a journalist. If you were a journalist you would have fact checked. If you went to the Mayo Clinic's website, you would have seen that their own diagnosis was not a brain tumour but a Rathke's cleft cyst (RCC). Further research would have told you that an RCC is a non-life threatening condition with a mortality rate of 0%. That means that she couldn't have died from her condition.

I'm sorry if the facts don't support your position.

Posted by: KevMo | 2009-07-22 2:03:41 AM

Global, CTV and CBC basically all have leftist corporate agendas.
We witnessed the Obama slobbering last year during the US election for president.

And still it continues.
Here in Woodstock, Ontario, I personally know of a resident who has been waiting for hip replacement for months, and is currently on morphine for pain ,and still she waits.

Hospitals in Canada are "block funded" annually.
Once the budgeted funding is expended patients with knee or hip replacement as an example show up for treatment in the system, well "good luck", -- you wait.

Does rationing ring a bell?
In this the aforementioned instance GLOBAL TV is a slobbering Obama enabler and should stay to hell out of manipulating a story.

Posted by: Joe Molnar | 2009-07-22 7:34:38 AM

If her condition wasn't fatal, why didn't Global TV report that? It would have made their "the ad is evil!" story immensely stronger.

My comments to the effect that Global shouldn't be implying that she is wrong about what she says without reporting in specific terms on her story remain valid.

Were Global lawyers afraid of her lawyers bringing forth medical evidence to the effect that she could have died, as she argues in the ad?

Posted by: Rick Hiebert | 2009-07-22 11:31:44 AM

Rick, I'll be fair and balanced, both you and Global played lose with the facts

Posted by: BobM | 2009-07-30 10:18:24 AM

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