30
Jul 07

MTV takes on Michael Moore

Do You See + FT + Proven By Science2 comments • 729 views

It’s nice to see MTV putting long-form reviews online. But when it’s as hapless and baffled as Kurt Loder’s review of “Sicko” one begins to wish they hadn’t.

Loder, you may remember, is the éminence grisé of MTV News — the laconic, jaded one who was a little older than everyone else and so tasked with all the big stories — Courtney Love, global warming, stuff like that. Or you may not.

In his review, Loder says that Michael Moore has “cherry-picked facts” in his film and resorted to “manipulating interviews”. Indeed, the headline of Loder’s piece says that Moore’s film is “heavily doctored”. Moore is a “brazen” “con man”, “never more so than in this movie”, we learn.

Strong words. (If printed in England, they would probably earn MTV a law suit.) The gauntlet thrown, the reader naturally assumes Mr. Loder has come armed with a few facts of his own — a corrective to Moore’s distortions.

But Loder can produce just one figure of Moore’s that sounds fishy — that 18,000 Americans will die this year alone for lack of health insurance. “How does he know?” asks Loder.

Most people find these things out by doing research. For instance, Loder could try popping the search terms “18,000”, “deaths”, “US”, and “health care” into Google. It is strange indeed, in today’s Googlefied world, that a curious Kurt Loder would not have at least tried. But maybe it’s simply more fun to wonder about Moore’s facts — to cast doubt on them — than to know if they’re right.

Even if Loder were simply too busy to do his own research — sorry, I mean “Googling” — he can point his browser to Moore’s own site, where the answer is literally one click away:

Lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the United States. Although America leads the world in spending on health care, it is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have coverage.

Insuring America’s Health: Principles and Recommendations, Institute of Medicine, January 2004.

After that bracing fact-check, Loder turns to the anecdotal — which most documentaries, by necessity, rely on. But if he thinks that a documentary video like “Dead Meat” (2005) represents a brown-shoes, sensible counterpoint to Moore’s cast of health care victims, he should look at the source. “Dead Meat” — which doesn’t appear in the Internet Movie Database, so don’t bother looking it up there — was financed by Stuart Browning, a technology millionaire, and produced by former Republican campaign worker Evan Maloney. Maloney and Browning have also made several short videos attacking immigrants’ rights rallies as well as “political correctness” on American college campuses, and run a web site called “Free Market Cure”.

This is not to say that the shocking Canadian health care anecdotes in “Dead Meat” that Loder relates aren’t real — I have no idea if they are or not, and I suspect Loder doesn’t either. But surely these anecdotes, considering who gathered, filmed and edited them, are at least as “cherry-picked” as those that appear in “Sicko”.

When Mr. Loder condemns the Cuban health care system, one begins to “feel his whole argument sliding sideways”. In Cuba, says Loder, some foreigners can pay cash for gold-plated or experimental treatment that Cuban citizens themselves don’t get under Cuba’s universal (and top-flite) health care system. Why, it’s just not right! Indeed, says Loder, some have called this arrangement tantamount to “medical apartheid”! Putting aside the odd sensation that Loder is advocating a ban on privately-funded health care in Cuba, it’s tough to see how Cuba is any worse in this regard than the United States, where millions go uninsured and a checkbook will buy you any treatment you want.

In what he imagines is a final sting to Moore and to Cuba, Loder confides that when Fidel Castro recently became ill, he didn’t choose a Cuban doctor to help him, “he had a specialist flown in — from Spain.” A quick Google check might have saved Mr. Loder some embarrassment: Spain provides free health coverage to all its citizens.

And its government is socialist, to boot.

Comments

  1. 1
    jeff w on 30 Jul 2007 #

    Votre accent aigu est sur le wrong e, dude [/pedant]

  2. 2
    tracerhand on 30 Jul 2007 #

    hi jeff. i have now added an accent to “éminence”! cheers!

    thanks for adding the “more” link, editorz! i just realised i forgot to review the movie so here you go: IT’S GOOD!

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