Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This Year's Karen Ryan?

Pity these poor British citizens, naive to the ways of American corporate astroturfing! They got duped by Rick Scott’s Conservatives for Patients’ Rights into appearing in an anti-healthcare reform advertisement:
Two British women who have become the unwitting stars of a campaign to derail Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms yesterday said that their views on the NHS had been misrepresented.


Ms Spall, whose mother died of kidney cancer while waiting for treatment, and Ms Brickell, who had cervical cancer diagnosed after being refused a smear test because she was too young, appear in the adverts telling how they were failed by the NHS.

But they informed The Times that they were told they were being interviewed for a documentary examining healthcare reform. Neither was aware that the footage was to be used for right-wing advertisements. Ms Spall said: “It has been a bit of a nightmare. It was a real test of my naivety. I am a very trusting person and for me it has been a big lesson. I feel I was duped.”

Here’s a thought: if you have to lie and misrepresent who you are to get British citizens to trash their National Health Service on camera, perhaps their system really ain’t so bad. But I digress.

Here’s where it gets weird:

CPR was set up by Richard Scott, a multimillionaire who founded the Columbia Hospital Corporation. Ms Spall was approached by a woman, who identified herself as Betsy Kulman, who said that she was making a documentary for the company. In an e-mail Ms Kulman wrote: “Columbia Healthcare in the US is underwriting a web documentary spanning the US, the UK, and Canada on the debate on healthcare reform. This segment will explore the difficult issues around the intersection between private and nationalised medicine.

“Who has been failed by socialised medicine and why? What can be done to change things for the better”

Oh, my.

For one thing, there is no company called “Columbia Healthcare.” That company has been HCA ever since Rick Scott was ousted after his company defrauded taxpayers and gave doctors kickbacks.

You know, the kind of rapacious behavior a for-profit healthcare system just begs for. The irony of this assclown becoming the voice of healthcare reform should be lost on no one.

[Unrelated fun fact: in the early ‘90s, Rick Scott was George W. Bush’s partner in the Texas Rangers. The Republican Party is nothing if not incestuous.]

Here’s another odd thing: A British blogger named Gordon Cooper, whose wife has breast cancer, has been chronicling his family's ordeal on his blog. And in January of this year Betsy Kulman left the following comment on his blog:

Hello Gordon,

My name is Betsy Kulman, and I am a journalist in the US. I'm so sorry about what your wife (and you) are going through with her cancer. I am sure this is a very scary time.

I am working (urgently) on a web documentary on privatized vs socialized medicine, which will include the US, Canada, and the NHS in the UK. What are the pros and the cons of each...as the US moves toward more nationalized care.

It seems you have you been somewhat dissatisfied with some of the care your wife is receiving... and I would like to talk to you further if you think that is due the NHS or just bad record keeping etc... Are you and your wife interested in sharing any information? Ultimately I want to find someone to interview/profile on camera (to shoot in mid-February) for this web story being underwritten by Columbia Healthcare in the US. If you all want to talk about this, my email is betsykulman@yahoo.com. I am on a crazy short deadline so please let me know... I would be very interested in your viewpoint and thank you both so much for even considering helping us at this juncture, considering all you have on your plate. I appreciate it and do hope I will hear from you.

Many thanks, Betsy

January 31, 2009 9:45 PM

Interesting. President Obama had barely taken his oath of office and they were already collecting footage and horror stories from across the pond to trash “nationalized care”?

Who is Betsy Kulman, anyway? She identifies herself as a journalist, and there is indeed an award-winning field producer named Betsy Kulman who has worked for CNN, ABC, Fox and others. I also found a Betsy Kulman--a Vanderbilt University graduate, no less--who is owner of BK Productions, a media firm in Washington, D.C.

Are they the same person? If so, field producer Kulman can kiss her award-winning news career goodbye now that she’s working for a lobbyist and misrepresenting herself to overseas sources. "Karen Ryan, reporting" anyone?

The other question I have is, what is HCA’s financial relationship to Rick Scott’s Conservatives For Patients’ Rights group? In January Ms. Kulman was telling people that her “web documentary” was being underwritten by “Columbia Healthcare.” Conservatives For Patients’ Rights opened its doors in February--and it turns out her "documentary" is in fact no more than advertisements against healthcare reform. So I guess we can surmise that HCA is underwriting the anti-reform activities of Conservatives For Patients Rights, which makes sense since Rick Scott used to be head of the company.

This is good to know. HCA is a for-profit hospital chain. The company paid $1.7 billion to settle the government’s fraud claim, the largest healthcare fraud case in U.S. history.

Vendetta, much?

This is who is fighting healthcare reform, misrepresenting themselves to people in the United Kingom as “journalists” working on a “web documentary,” and trying to stop moves to reform our broken system.

Betsy Kulman the journalist has an impressive resume. But if this is the same person who has been shilling for Conservatives For Patients' Rights, it's going to discredit any future work she may do for the networks.