What's rarer than Al Gore flying commercial? An honest media discussion about Cuba's devastating problems, especially the barely functional medical system.
In the week since the October 10 “Hannity & Colmes” (video Pt. 1 & Pt. 2), other than some conservative blogs, the media ignored the disturbing images that revealed the truth about Cuba's much-vaunted health care system.
The hosts interviewed Cuban expat George Utset and showed pictures from his website The Real Cuba as well as the exclusive footage that he obtained from Cuban physician Darsi Ferrer Ramirez.
The images showed dilapidated and crumbling hospitals with patients covered in flies, broken windows, laundry hanging from open windows, filthy bathrooms with holes in the floor and insect-infested rooms (view footage here). Since this disgrace is hidden behind the Castro Curtain, the media don't seem to care.
According to Babalu Blog, the footage was originally intended for a “20/20” segment about the reality of Cuban health care. However, after pressure from the Cuban government, it morphed into a brief interview where host John Stossel confronted Michael Moore about many of the inaccuracies in “Sicko.” To its credit, “20/20” adroitly used Utset's footage to dismantle “Sicko's” claims.
This should have been picked up by other media, but as usual, they ignored a negative story about Cuba or Castro. The same news rooms that frothed over Walter Reed's substandard outpatient housing ignored the kind of appalling, unsanitary conditions that journalists would get into fistfights to report if found in an American-run hospital.
Is the very real threat of Cuba ejecting individual journalists or entire news agencies enough to persuade the media to skip reporting unpleasant facts about that country? Does the media desire to broadcast Fidel Castro's eventual funeral give the government leverage? Or is it more simple, such as compatible ideology or group-think?
The show deserves praise for running the footage, but Utset spent most of his time skillfully redirecting questions about socialized medicine toward the failings of Cuba's primitive health system. That should have been the real story and deserves a segment of its own.
A handful of questions could strip away the fantasies about Cuba and uncover many of the biases in the US' health care discussion. Exposing the habit of overlooking Cuba's problems with socialized medicine reveals biased media which use those same dishonest tactics when reporting America's debate over universal health care.
*photo of Cuban hospital room from The Real Cuba
Lynn is a contributor to NewsBusters and can be reached with tips or complaints at tvisgoodforyou2 AT yahoo DOT com