Corrente

If you have "no place to go," come here!

How will the White House make amends for censoring single payer in its Iowa health care forum "live blog" transcript?

Executive summary: Reuters coverage and a YouTube of the event show that the White House live blogger suppressed a single payer question asked by Dr. Jess Federowicz of PNHP.

[Welcome, Kos readers. Dr. Federowicz is live blogging with us this morning!]

Dr. Jess Federowicz, M.D. is a board-certified psychiatrist and clinician investigator in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa. Dr. Fiedorowicz also won the lottery for a ticket to the White House's Iowa Health Care forum -- after Iowa's (Democratic!) Governor Chet Culver, most shamefully, had tried to sell the tickets to corporate sponsors! Dr. Federowicz participated in the protests outside the hall, and also spoke inside the hall at the forum. As reported by Reuters India*:

Dr. Jess Fiedorowicz, a psychiatrist at the University of Iowa Hospitals who was with the protest group, told the meeting a majority of Americans support a "single payer" or government-run national health insurance program.

"Can we put it on the table for discussion?" Fiedorowicz asked Nancy-Ann De Parle, director of the White House Office on Health Reform.

"Can we study costing? Can we study feasibility of this truly universal, socially just and fiscally responsible alternate to our currently unjust and woefully inefficient system?" Fiedorowicz asked. Many in the crowd applauded.

And yet -- and I know this wil surprise you -- Dr. Fiedorowicz appears nowhere in the White House "live blog" of the event! Is Reuters wrong? Let's go to the tape (or in this case, the YouTube):

Dr. Fiedorowicz's question -- which was civil, not a protest, and just like those of all the other attendees who were not censored -- appears at 54:12. And do keep playing 'til you hear the answer; it's precious.)

And now, let's check (and redact) the transcript of the White House "live blog" -- and you double-check me. Can you find Dr. Fiedorowicz's question? Can you find even the words "single payer"? I can't. The White House "live" [cough] "blog" reads from the bottom up:

1:27: ... [zip] ...

1:23: ... [zilch] ...

1:18: ... [nada] ...

1:10: ... [nothing] ...

1:02: ... [nothing] ...

12:55: ... [nothing] ...

12:41: ... [nothing] ...

12:30: ... [nothing] ...

12:20: ... [nothing] ...

12:10: ... [nothing] ...

11:55: ... [nothing] ...

11:45: ... [nothing] ...

11:40: ... [nothing] ...

11:34: ... [nothing] ...

11:25: ... [nothing] ...

11:15: ... [nothing] ...

11:05: ... [nothing] ...

1:27: ... [nothing] ...

1:23: ... [nothing] ...

1:18: ... [nothing] ...

1:10: ... [nothing] ...

1:02: ... [nothing] ...

12:55: ... [nothing] ...

12:41: ... [nothing] ...

12:30: ... [nothing] ...

12:20: ... [nothing] ...

12:10: ... [nothing] ...

11:55: ... [nothing] ...

11:45: ... [nothing] ...

11:40: ... [nothing] ...

11:34: ... [nothing] ...

11:25: ... [nothing] ...

11:15: ... [nothing] ...

11:05: ... [nothing] ...

1:27: ... [nothing] ...

1:23: ... [nothing] ...

1:18: ... [nothing] ...

1:10: ... [nothing] ...

1:02: ... [nothing] ...

12:55: ... [nothing] ...

And now, 54 minutes in (if I did my arithmetic right) here is the part the White House's so-called "live blogger" censored, as transcribed by PNHP (not Reuters):

Greetings everybody and thanks for hosting this. I’m delighted that we’re talking about these issues.

My name is [removing strikethrough] Jess Fiedorowicz. I’m a physician and faculty member at the University of Iowa. And I’m here representing Physicians for a National Health Program. [applause]

[Iowa State Senator] Jack Hatch had mentioned that he thought that health care was a human right. I agree. But if it is a human right then why are we settling short of not covering every Iowan? This plan does not cover every Iowan.

The majority of Americans, and the majority physicians, support single payer national health insurance. Single payer national health insurance is the only true path to universal care.

Governor Culver, you mentioned “pooling.” How about this for a pool? Everybody In! How is that for a pool?

Nancy-Ann DeParle, I have a question for you.

With the majority of Americans and the majority of physicians supporting single payer national health insurance, can we put it on the table for discussion?

Can we discuss, can we study costing? Can we study the feasibility of this socially just, truly universal and fiscally responsible alternative to our currently unjust and woefully inefficient system? [end of censored portion]

(We'll look at the answer below.)

12:41: ... [nothing] ...

12:30: ... [nothing] ...

However, Obama's pet medical records project gets "live" [cough] "blogged" quite faithfully!

12:20: A chiropractor brings up the issue of electronic medical records. He says the adoption of that technology could save $77 billion annually. Now that $19.5 billion has been put forth in the Recovery Act for Health Information technology, we must think about how to make that transition. He urges that an important question in the health reform effort is how can we use technology to drive best practices and efficiency.

12:10: ... [nothing] ...

11:55: ... [nothing] ...

11:45: ... [nothing] ...

11:40: ... [nothing] ...

11:34: ... [nothing] ...

11:25: ... [nothing] ...

11:15: ... [nothing] ...

11:05: ... [nothing] ...

So, Reuters and YouTube agree: Dr. Jess Fiedorowicz was present at the White House Health Care Forum, spoke in favor of single payer, and directed a question to director of the White House Office of Health Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle. And the so-called White House "live" blogger censored him (or, possibly, worse**).

And did Nancy-Ann DeParle answer the question? What do you think? Let's go to the transcript again:

[GOVERNOR CULVER:] Thank you. [pause] It’s on the table now! [laughter and applause] Which is the purpose of this meeting, to hear from everyone that’s willing to try to help us solve this national crisis, this national challenge.

Well, I guess we're still waiting for an answer from DeParle; anybody got her number? Meanwhile, Culver displays ignorance that would be shocking for the kind of man who'd try to sell tickets to his own mother's funeral: Single payer was already on the table at the White House health reform summit, but only because its advocates forced it to be there. The Iowa forum organizers took it off the table again! Dr. Fiedorowicz put it back on the table! And then the White House "live" [cough] blogger took it right off again! Calling into question, surely, Culver's reassuring bromide that the purpose of the meeting is to "hear from everyone." When the White House silences speakers, how is that hearing from everyone?

* * *

Clearly, White House censorship of a Health Care Reform forum is a disgrace and a travesty. Read the eloquent words with which Obama opened the White House Summit:

In this effort, every voice has to be heard. Every idea must be considered. Every option must be on the table. There should be no sacred cows.

How do those words square with censorship? They don't. There's no way that they can. With that, my recommendation.

To Whom It May Concern In The White House:

Here's what you can do to make amends for censoring the voice of single payer advocate Dr. Jess Fiedorowicz in a supposedly open forum:

1. Correct the record on the White House so-called "live blog" immediately. (And not just by changing the page, but by issuing an actual correction). If we can't trust the White House blogger with the historical record, who do we trust?

2. Immediately institute a policy that any White House "live blog" should faithfully record events to the best of the blogger's ability. Censorship is not permitted. And post a link to a transcript, as a check.

3. Finally, now that single payer's on the table, again, leave it there! I won't debate the policy issues here; how about we leave it that you promise not to make Governor Culver a liar? And if that doesn't work for you, how about you think strategically about opening to the left on this one?

Love,

Lambert

P.S. Single payer advocacy doesn't make any of us rich. How about you throw something DCBlogger's way? The PayPayl button is to the right of this post.

You know, I'm old school. When I read the words "live blog," I think of a blog that, to the best of the blogger's ability, faithfully records events as they happen, for the record, in near real time -- and doesn't censor anything. The White House, apparently, takes a different view.

NOTE * And, oddly, or not, not from Reuters proper, AP, Bloomberg, Pravda on the Potomac, Izvestia on the Hudson, or even McClatchy.

NOTE ** Here's where one might speculate that the so-called "live" blogger did not merely censor Fiedorowicz's remarks, but created their own reality to replace what really happened:

11:45: White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle addressed and thanked the participants next – she especially singled out the clinicians she met in the audience, who are on the front lines of this health care reform effort. She spoke about the first forum on health reform that brought together Democrats, Republicans, insurance executives, providers and everyday Americans at the White House to begin the discussion. These regional forums, she said, are a continuation of that discussion.

Dr. Fiedorowicz, you will recall, is an investigative clinician. And his question was directed to Nancy-Ann DeParle.

NOTE And while we're at it, good for Mona Shaw. She too, oddly, or not, did not appear in the White House "live blog":

Once the forum got underway [that is, after the live blogging had begun], protester Mona Shaw of Iowa City stood to call the event "shameful" because health insurance companies were participating. As she was escorted out of the event hall, Shaw accused insurance companies of ignoring the needs of their customers. "Governor Culver has taken $20,000 from Blue Cross-Blue Shield, of course he's not going to let the insurance industry take any of the flack for this," Shaw shouted toward reporters as she left. "Iowans are dying."

UPDATE Dr. Fiedorowicz hit the jackpot in the sense that he got into the hall -- but he didn't actually "win" the lottery. Rather, he was wait-listed, and his name made it to the top.

UPDATE Over at DU, commenter ProSense burbles:

One of Hillary's famed bloggers? [Ah, the OFB!] Edited to be clear [not!], the recent forum single-payer was addressed. So there is no censorship.

He claims you can't find single-payer anywhere in a transcript they linked to and that there is censorship. Transcript from the recent Q&A:

Only the truest of True Fans would -- in the process of smearing another blogger's integrity -- claim that a transcript from a Town Hall held on March 26 (the "recent Q&A" cited by "ProSense") refutes my showing that there was censorship in a live blog taken on March 23 (the subject of this post). In fact, the only way I can imagine ProSense would think the later transcript is relevant -- assuming, arguendo, that they aren't simply seeking to sow confusion -- is that any topic on which Obama makes a pronouncement is somehow authoritative and of universal scope -- even retroactively. Beyond time and space. Impressive!

0
No votes yet

Comments

Submitted by hipparchia on

you'll just have to call the white house, i guess.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

Back in 2001, when all the brou-haha erupted online about whether Cheney's office was in the White House or in the traditional location, I simply called and got his office on the line. They talked to me and told me that it was there, and who worked out of the office - something no newspaper had covered at the time. If I can get that out of Cheney's office, I bet you can get her phone number.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

too cheesy for words.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Come to think of it, has the phrase "Sham Wow" been taken? It would be an excellent name for this tour.

And, major LOLz on the response to Dr. F's question. Hysterical, in a gallows-humor sort of way.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

more coming attractions: just got off the phone with PNHP (they love the Corrente community by the way) and we will have either a live blog or an interview, details are still being worked out

also I have contacted single payer activists in several states but can't say more until we have additional details. and If a few more Corrente's can spare me some kibble, I can keep my telephone service and contact some more.

Submitted by hipparchia on

looking forward to this.

[and it's nice to be loved]

Submitted by jawbone on

Doesn't "transparency" mean that no one can see it? Sounds about right.
~~~By vastleft on Mon, 03/23/2009 - 2:13pm

Hey, does a single payer advocate have impact on the healthcare debate if his statements are made invisible to the public??

This is stunning. And not unexpected.

I heard Sy Hersh on Fresh Air (yesterday? Monday?), and he was very favorably impressed with Obama's understanding of and actions toward ME, Af-Pak. I was in and out of the car, so must listen again. But he said that no president of the US has ever had such understanding of the Muslim world, those early years in Indonesia.... BO understands that Islamic nations want respect, and Obama speaks to them respectfully as in using full name for Iran.

Hhhmmm.

Submitted by jawbone on

contacted--would be best for credentialed reporter from, say, McClatchy, contact her and ask about these "omissions," no? But, maybe some bloggers could make some real news!

Rebecca Adelman of the Department of Health and Human Services is credited with the live blogging. So, she, if she actually did this, should be credited with the live censoring.

And transparency trashing.

Great post, Lambert!

Jess Fiedorowicz's picture
Submitted by Jess Fiedorowicz on

I'm currently online and would like to thank Lambert for contacting me to set this up. I'm looking forward to talking to everyone about single payer.

Turlock