Rolling Stone Finds A Smoking Gun: Betsy McCaughey Lied About Healthcare Reform For Tobacco Lobby

You remember Betsy McCaughey, don't you? She's the right wing hack who propagated a purposely misleading article in The New Republic that was used to torpedo the Clinton health plan, and more recently the author of the "death panels" lie.

Well, Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson has a hell of a scoop in their Oct. 1 issue in an article called "The Lie Machine: The Plot to Kill Health Care Reform":

McCaughey's lies were later debunked in a 1995 post-mortem in The Atlantic, and The New Republic recanted the piece in 2006. But what has not been reported until now is that McCaughey's writing was influenced by Phillip Morris, the world's largest tobacco company, as part of a secret campaign to scuttle Clinton's health care reform. (The measure would have been funded by a huge increase in tobacco taxes.) In an internal company memo from March 1994, the tobacco giant detailed its strategy to derail Hillarycare through an alliance with conservative think tanks, front groups and media outlets. Integral to the company's strategy, the memo observed, was an effort to "work on the development of favorable pieces" with "friendly contacts in the media." The memo, prepared by a Phillip Morris executive, mentions only one author by name:

"Worked off-the-record with Manhattan [Editor's note: At the time, McCaughey was a fellow at the Manhattan Institute] and writer Betsy McCaughey as part of the input to the three-part expose in The New Republic on what the Clinton plan means to you. The first part detailed specifics of the plan."

McCaughey did not respond to Rolling Stone's request for an interview.


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