60 Minutes on pharma influencing Congress – but why so late?

If you didn’t see 60 Minutes last Sunday (April 1), go to their website and read the story and watch the video link for the segment called “Under the Influence.â€? It’s the story of the incredible manipulation of Congress by the drug industry that took place to get the Medicare Part D legislation passed.


The unorthodox roll call on one of the most expensive bills ever placed before the House of Representatives began in the middle of the night, long after most people in Washington had switched off C-SPAN and gone to sleep.

The only witnesses were congressional staffers, hundreds of lobbyists, and U.S. Representatives like Dan Burton, R-Ind., and Walter Jones, R-N.C.

“The pharmaceutical lobbyists wrote the bill,” says Jones. “The bill was over 1,000 pages. And it got to the members of the House that morning, and we voted for it at about 3 a.m. in the morning.”

Why did the vote finally take place at 3 a.m.?

“Well, I think a lot of the shenanigans that were going on that night, they didn’t want on national television in primetime,” according to Burton.

“I’ve been in politics for 22 years,” says Jones, “and it was the ugliest night I have ever seen in 22 years.”

Despite what a terrific piece this was, one wonders why it took 60 Minutes several years to catch up to this story. Some viewers wrote to CBS about how late this report came. Examples:

“Great story, AWESOME Story!!! Too bad CBS & 60 minutes waited over 3 YEARS after President Bush Jr. signed the bill into law to report on this. Perhaps if we the American people had heard this story back in early 2004, we would have made different choices when the 2004 presidential election came around.â€?

“CBS, where the hell were you in reporting this when it happened. Everyone else who was paying attention knew we were being screwed by this legislation, that it was just a give away to the drug companies. but like all (mainstream media), you were totally going to let it pass. Shame on you for taking so long wake up.â€?

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