PBS to Air Soros-linked Film Calling for Socialized Dental Care

PBS will air “Dollars and Dentists,” a Soros-connected documentary advocating for socialized dental coverage, claiming that there is a lack of affordable dental care that is endangering the lives of millions of children. A press release and promo for the “Frontline” special, which debuts on Junes 26, reveals that in addition to the convenient election year timing, the documentary is hyperbolic, and made in conjunction with a group that gets funding from the the left-wing billionaire.

The narrator for the documentary is an outspoken proponent of lefty propaganda and the whole things is backed by organizations funded, in part, by George Soros. The arguments of “Dollars and Dentists” also closely parallel a CBS program that aired almost four years earlier to the day, during the last presidential election cycle.

Former CNN anchor, now correspondent, Miles O’Brien will narrate the PBS documentary. O’Brien is not new to this type of left-wing political hype. Back in October 2007 on CNN, O’Brien came out in defense of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” dismissing the ruling by a British judge that the movie contained nine inaccuracies. He also accused global warming critics of being “bought and paid for” by the fuel industry, and called Christine O’Donnell a “Tea Party nutbag” on twitter, before pulling that tweet when it caused some backlash.

The “Frontline” special was made in conjunction with the Center for Public Integrity, using the results of a Pew Research Center poll. Like-minded organizations tend to scratch each other’s backs. In this case the Pew Research Center, and CPI are both funded by Soros. Pew got $500,000 in Soros money in 2009 alone. The Center for Public Integrity got $2,416,000 in Soros funds from 2000-2003.

The conclusion of the Pew study cited in the PBS documentary, “as Medicaid rolls grow, states must do much more to improve children’s access to care, particularly by strengthening preventive care efforts and broadening the pool of providers.” In other words, the study advocates for state mandated dental coverage for the underprivileged.

The new documentary has much in common with a CBS story which aired in June of 2008. Both stories used many of the same examples (including stories of people pulling out their own teeth with pliers) and pushed the common media solution for health problems: government-run universal health insurance.

The promo for the PBS documentary begins with the tragic story of a young boy, Deamonte Driver, who died from complications related to dental problems. The death of this boy was undeniably a tragedy, made worse by the fact that it was completely avoidable. However, there is more to this story than the tale of how greedy dentists refused care to a child in need. The boy’s mother had lost her Medicaid coverage and had been preoccupied trying to find a dentist for her other son. When the boy finally did receive medical care, nobody noticed that there was a more serious problem with him until it was too late, according to a Washington Post piece from February, 2007.

While the story is tragic, it ignored issues of personal responsibility. Where was the child’s family? Why didn’t social services (another part of government) intervene? Even the left-of-center Washington Post editorial board admitted this was in part a personal responsibility issue in an editorial on March 7, 2007. Yet CBS and the upcoming PBS documentary pin the blame on a failure of society to provide care that might have saved Driver’s life. But Driver’s tragedy was not ignored, instead the boy’s untimely death brought about a movement of non-profit dental organizations for those not fortunate enough to have dental coverage.

A press release for the documentary admitted that Medicaid doesn’t work well. Yet, the documentary argues the answer to poorly run government programs is more government programs. “Most dentists won’t see [Medicaid] patients, because there’s no profit margin in Medicaid patients.” Dentistry is a business: that PBS has right. Without a profit margin, the dentists would be working for free.

The 2008 CBS story did not mention private solutions or the government regulations that can prevent people from getting the dental care they need. It is doubtful that the June 26 PBS program will either.

According to the Cato Institute’s Michael F. Cannon, the answer to situations like Driver’s is not universal coverage. As a Maryland resident, Driver had “reduce[d] access to the very type of early intervention that [he] needed” because of “consumer protection” laws that prevent dental hygienists from working with patients without the supervision of a dentist, said Cannon.

Former CBS anchor Russ Mitchell introduced the CBS report with the debunked statistic of “estimated 47 million Americans who have no medical insurance.” As the Business & Media Institute and others have pointed out, that figure included nearly 10 million non-citizens and roughly 17 million who might be choosing to be uninsured, making substantially more than the median household income at that time: $46,326.

This CBS documentary was run almost four years earlier to the day, at the same point in last election cycle. Since health care was a major issue in the 2008 election cycle, and is now back in the news as the Supreme Court nears its decision about Obamacare, it is unlikely to be mere coincidence. The CBS program even admitted that this topic was a hot button issue back in June of 2008.

CBS’s programming also failed to include any criticism of dental care in countries like Great Britain that have universal coverage. But a May 7, 2006, New York Times story focused on “deficiencies in Britain’s state-financed dental service.” According to the article, it is “stretched beyond its limit, no longer serves everyone and no longer even pretends to try.” The result: some British people had removed their own teeth with pliers. CBS didn’t make that connection.

According to the Times, the country has too few “public dentists” because they are “discouraged by what they say is the assembly-line nature of the job and by a new contract that pays them to perform a set number of ‘units of dental activity’ per year.” So dentists are choosing private practice over Britain’s National Health Service. 

Mike Ciandella
Mike Ciandella
Mike Ciandella is a staff writer for the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute.