Rachel Maddow highlights some excellent reporting on several Astroturf groups opposed to health care reform, and no surprise here but who is helping t
November 19, 2009

Rachel Maddow highlights some excellent reporting on several Astroturf groups opposed to health care reform, and no surprise here but who is helping to promote them? Fox "News" of course.

From Think Progress--Exclusive: Attacks On Health Reform Orchestrated By Yet Another Shadowy Corporate Front Group — ‘CMPI’

The AP--THE INFLUENCE GAME: Front group fights health bill

And from Mother Jones--The Tea Party's Favorite Doctors

MADDOW: At this very moment, tonight, there is a high-stakes battle under way in the nation`s capital. It is an arm-twisting, vote-wrangling, down-to-the-wire, choose your cliche efforts to get health care reform past. Senate Democrats are trying to hold off Republicans while keeping their own conservatives in line. That`s the battle on health reform that`s happening on the surface.

Just below the surface is a battle for public opinion that is being shaped by a lot of different interest groups, but by some groups in particular that are trying to shape the debate while disguising their own role in doing so. As health reform proceeds and these folks get more desperate and more sloppy, some great investigative journalism done recently by "The Associated Press," by the Center for American Progress and by "Mother Jones" magazine has uncovered some of the inadvertent hilarity in who`s behind the opposition to health reform.

If you happen to be an avid viewer of the FOX News Channel, you`re probably not watching me. But let`s say you are. You have probably seen a lot of analysis on health reform on FOX News by a FOX News medical contributor named Dr. Marc Siegel.


DR. MARC SIEGEL, FOX NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Millions of people are going to lose their current health insurance in favor of this government insurance. The government can regulate the amount of care that`s delivered. That`s also known as rationing care, by the way.


MADDOW: Rationing care. Millions losing their insurance. FOX`s Doctor "The government`s trying to kill you" Marc Siegel was reportedly a senior fellow at the time he made those comments at something called the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, CMPI.

The Center for the American Progress today documents how CMPI has been a big player in the anti-health reform movement over the past few months. They sponsored anti-Obama tea party protests. They have organized a "U.S. Policymakers" series that hosts anti-health reform interviews with a not- so-broad range of Republican lawmakers, including Michele Bachmann, Joe "You lie" Wilson, Jim DeMint, David Vitter. They produced a number of anti-health reform online ads and video and even anti-health reform video games.

So, shocker, right? FOX News` medical contributor was a member of a staunch anti-health reform organizing group, this CMPI.

But it might also be useful to know that CMPI has also been funded in part by the pharmaceutical industry. According to Politico.com, CMPI`s biggest contributors in 2006 with the drug maker Pfizer and PhRMA, the drug industry`s trade group.

Who runs CMPI, the Center for Medicine and the Public Interest, this group? Well, its president is a man named Peter Pitts. In addition to heading up this ostensibly nonpartisan medical think tank, Center for American Progress notes that Mr. Pitts is also the director for Global Health Care at the giant P.R. form, Porter Novelli.

Porter Novelli, of course, has a bit of a history when it comes to shilling for the health care industry, having helped that industry kill the Patients Bill of Rights way back in 1994. They said at the time that it was part of a, quote, "big government agenda." Why does that sound so familiar?

CMPI, of course, would not tell the Center for American Progress who is funding them, but it is true that they sprung from a famous pro-tobacco ostensibly grassroots corporate front group that was funded by Philip Morris. So, we leave it to you to make your best educated guess as to who is funding their current anti-health reform agenda.

Meanwhile, "The Associated Press" this weekend shine another big, bright spotlight on yet another group. This one called Americans for Quality and Affordable Healthcare. It sounds great, right? I mean, who doesn`t want quality and affordable health care? If you think you`d like to be a member of this group, good luck joining.

At the group`s Web site, you`ll see lots of very happy, sunny pictures of doctors and healthy kids and test tubes. You`ll find plenty of talking points about why we cannot afford a government-run health care system and how essentially it is that every American be forced to buy health insurance.

What you won`t find is any phone number or address of who runs Americans for quality and affordable health care. It`s just a generic "contact us" form on a Web site registered to a hide the Web sites owner`s proxy site.

It turns out, Americans for Quality and Affordable Healthcare, despite the charming clip art, is not really run by doctors and nurses. "The Associated Press" connects Americans for Quality and Affordable Healthcare to a North Carolina law firm that`s called Moore & Van Allen. They a big beltway P.R. and government affairs practice.

The law firm acknowledges running the site on behalf of its health care clients, but they won`t specify who those health care clients are. A spokesman for the law firm is telling "A.P.," quote, "They want to stay in the background and off the front page." No kidding!

So, Moore & Van Allen won`t say who funds Americans for Quality and Affordable Healthcare. But with talking points like, no public option, that everybody must buy private health insurance, it`s not that hard to imagine who might be behind this one.

There`s also one other group. They`re called the Association for American Physicians and Surgeons. You might want to sit down for this one, OK? It`s a fair warning.

While some anti-health reform front groups appear to have some financial corporate incentives to try to kill health reform, the motivation of this last group appears to be more ideological. The Association for American Physicians and Surgeons has been busy in recent months. Back in September, they organized a rally on Capitol Hill, ahead of the big Glenn Beck/9-12 march.

Their annual meeting last month featured, among others, Republican anti-health reform congressmen like Tom Price and Paul Broun. Members of the group have also appeared on -- you guess it -- FOX News to slam health reform.


DR. DAVID MCKALIP, ASSOCIATION FOR AMERICAN PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS: Americans can stop this. They need to call Congress and they can go to places like DoctorsForPatientFreedom.com. They can go to FreedomWorks.org. If hundreds of thousands of people call their senators in their own district, this government takeover of medicine will stop.


MADDOW: That was Florida doctor, David McKalip, a member of the Association for American Physicians and Surgeons, who you might remember is also being the guy who mass-emailed this image of President Obama around, the one with Obama as a witch doctor with a bone through his nose, who`s also somehow secretly a communist.

That sort of subtlety turns out to be par for the course for this rather benign-sounding organization. I mean, again, they`re called the Association for American Physicians and Surgeons. It sounds really mainstream, right?

Well, great reporting by "Mother Jones" magazine today revealed some of the causes that this group propounds. The group`s statement of principles, for example, declares that it is evil and immoral for physicians to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. Its Web site features claims that electronic medical records are a form of data control, like that deployed the East German secret police. An article on the group`s Web site speculates that Barack Obama may have won the presidency by hypnotizing voters, especially cohorts known to be susceptible to neuro- linguistic programming. That is -- according to the writer -- young people, educated people and --wait for it -- possibly Jews. Yes.

Here`s the actual article. I`m not kidding. I swear, it`s real. "Oratory or Hypnotic Induction?"

Remember that scandal where Lou Dobbs got caught peddling that insane conspiracy theory that illegal immigrants had caused leprosy epidemic in the U.S.? That was these guys, too. That was in their journal.

This is the group that`s providing the medical experts for the "Glenn Beck" specials against health reform on FOX News. This is the group that`s providing the doctors in white coats at the anti-health reform tea party protests.

This is the character of some of the highest profile current opposition to health reform in the country -- which might explain why we`re closer than ever to getting health reform in this country.

All of these groups have every right to do what they`re doing. We also have every right to tell you who funds them and what wacky conspiracy theories they propound. And, no, we have not be been neurologically or -- excuse me -- neuro-linguistically programmed to do so. At least, I don`t think we have.

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