2007's "Stinkiest Media Performances"

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Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon have posted their 2007 P.U.-litzer Prizes for “the year’s stinkiest media performances.”

Two health-news-related pieces made the list. Here’s what the judges said:

“AMERICANS DON’T WANT UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE” AWARD — Jeff Greenfield of CBS, et al.

Reflecting what became mainstream media’s conventional wisdom in the wake of Michael Moore’s “SiCKO” documentary, CBS correspondent Greenfield explained that the U.S. lacks a universal healthcare system not because of the powerful insurance lobby — but because “Americans are just different.” He quoted an academic who said Americans, unlike Canadians and Europeans, don’t want government involvement in healthcare: “It’s a cultural difference.”

Actually, CBS’s own poll of Americans had found 64 percent supporting the view that the federal government should “guarantee health insurance for all” — with 60 percent approving of higher taxes to pay for it. A CNN poll found 64 percent American support for the idea that “government should provide a national health insurance program for all Americans, even if this would require higher taxes.”

“IT’S TRUE BECAUSE WE SAID IT” AWARD — CNN’s Lou Dobbs

To prove his claim that illegal immigrants were bringing “once eradicated diseases” into our country, Dobbs featured a CNN reporter in 2005 who claimed that the United States had seen only 900 cases of leprosy for 40 years — but that “there have been 7,000 in the past three years.” This year, in May, Dobbs was challenged on the shocking statistic by Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes, who cited a federal report saying there were 7,000 leprosy cases over the last 30 years. Dobbs’ response: “If we reported it, it’s a fact.”

Stahl: “How can you guarantee that to me?”

Dobbs: “Because I’m the managing editor, and that’s the way we do business. We don’t make up numbers, Lesley. Do we?”

You do, Lou. The Centers for Disease Control report that new leprosy cases in the United States have been on the decline for close to 20 years (with 166 cases in 2005).

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