Is Another Salon Smear In the Works on Conservatives for Patients' Rights? has forged a reputation as a willing mudslinger for Democratic White House publicists. In the Clinton era, it famously ripped Clinton adversaries Dan Burton and Henry Hyde as adulterers. They also ran sex columnist Dan Savage's 2000 article about how he got sick and licked all of then-presidential candidate Gary Bauer's door knobs to infect him. Another attack is about to unfold against the group Conservatives for Patients’ Rights (CPR).

CPR’s public relations firm Creative Response Concepts had been dealing with a freelancer named Tristram Korten, who’s working for Salon to expose CPR chief Rick Scott and his latest health venture Solantic, which runs a chain of walk-in urgent care health centers in Florida, most recently in Super Wal-Mart locations. (CRC is also MRC’s publicist.)

Talk about telegraphing where your story will go: here are some of the questions Korten sent about a lawsuit recycling charges in a lawsuit settled out of court that suggest a personal line of attack:


From 2002 lawsuit against Solantic by Dr. David Yarian alleging unlawful termination:

Did Scott approve all hires during Solantic's start-up in May/June 2001?

Did Scott ask Yarian "what does she look like" when Yarian was telling him about a nurse he wanted to hire to help him set up the clinical design of the Solantic Clinics in 2001?

Did Scott tell Yarian "Fat people can't work at our centers," when Yarian told him the individual was overweight?

Did Scott send email directives to that effect and make it know throughout the company?

After 9/11 did Scott direct Yarian not to hire anyone of Middle Eastern origins because they might scare off customers?

When Yarian wanted to hire a Hispanic male nurse who had a slight accent, did Scott inform Yarian that he couldn't hire that individual and that all employees had to be "mainstream Americans."

Korten also asked:

Did Creative Response Concepts produce the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" media campaign?

CRC did represent the Swift Boat veterans, which liberals find highly scandalous, and then suggest that liberals will be "swift-boated" on health care as they aim to put people before profit. They’re not happy that CPR has been airing ads suggesting that the haters of "profit" put government in charge, and then the ideal of people-first gets trampled as people find their requests for care are denied.

Scott replied to Salon that he’s not surprised their preparing an attack on him as liberals struggle to pass a massive health bill:

This current story, focusing on the unsubstantiated claims of one disgruntled former employee who left the company after only four months, is but the latest example of Salon’s despicable tactics. The company I founded, Solantic, has continued to prove over the past eight years that it is possible to lower health care costs through the free market and still deliver quality care to patients. The company has a vibrant and diverse workforce that is representative of the communities in which they are located, and our employees are dedicated to delivering quick, responsive and high-quality care to all of our patients.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis