If you missed any of this, be sure to watch both videos in this post. It's definitely some of the most spontaneous and revealing television I've seen in a very long time. Keith Olbermann brought together Michael Moore and Wendell Potter in a segment about how the health insurance industry mobilized to smear both Moore and "Sicko" ahead of its release, fearing it would get traction and start a "grass roots uprising" for single payer health insurance.
It's not that it's a surprise. We all know this is the standard tactic. But what comes through on these videos is how truly angry and passionate Moore is about this effort to discredit work that he viewed as essential to the debate. If memory serves me, they did succeed at marginalizing it, at least to the extent that it was not as relevant to the general debate as death panels were to become.
Partial transcript follows...
OLBERMANN: Let me jump in, Wendell. APCO, that PR film seems to contradict some of the remarks you made. APCO did not conduct research on Michael Moore's family. We did not suppress turnout for his movie. Explain what you know about the personal research that was done on Michael Moore and his family.
POTTER: I think whoever wrote that, I think, she was just protesting too much. The industry did an enormous amount of research on what we thought was going to be in the movie and on Michael Moore as a movie maker. I, myself did. I have seen every one of his movies, read all three of his books, seen all 24 episodes of "The Awful Truth." I know where you went to school. I know when you dropped out of college. I know who you are married to. I know a lot about you. Everybody in the industry knows a lot about you. We needed to know as much as we could, not that we necessarily were going to be using that if we didn't have to. One of the things that I was afraid about doing what I'm doing was that I would be attacked not by the industry directly by but its allies to try to attack my character and reputation. So that's what's goes on in a lot of the campaigns like this.
MOORE: When you were doing this research and this spying on myself and my family, what, I mean, to what ends, really? Obviously, they don't really want to have the debate on the issue, whether or not a for-profit health insurance system is what's really best for Americans?
MOORE: It seemed like their main goal was if people get in to see that film, we are doomed. We have got to make sure as few people see that film as possible. The way to do that is to smear Michael Moore, call him Anti -- American, say Anti-American and say he is not telling the truth. You said the other day that you guys were ready for Plan "B" if that failed, If the movie was getting too much traction, that it might be necessary to push me off a cliff, right?
>> what exactly did that mean?
POTTER: I was in that meeting and those words, indeed, were said. It was not literal, obviously. It meant we would do what we had to do to create ads and op-eds that we would get conservative pundits to place in newspapers with the whole objective of, as they call it, reframing the debate, to try to move the attention from them to you as a filmmaker.