Masochistic ABC Touts Moore Attack: ‘Media Is Complicit’ in Troop Deaths

Does "Good Morning America" have a masochistic streak? On Wednesday, GMA host Chris Cuomo allowed liberal filmmaker Michael Moore to claim that due to the failure of journalists in challenging President Bush’s claims about pre-war Iraq intelligence, ABC and other networks are "complicit" in the deaths of American soldiers:

Video (2:22): Real (1.73 MB) or Windows (1.46 MB), plus MP3 audio (686 kB)

Michael Moore: "...You might have prevented this war. You, this network, the other networks. Those 3,500 soldiers that are dead today may not have had to die had our news media done its job. And it's hard for me to even kind of sit here, really, in a way, and think about that it's this building, in part, that, because the people didn't do their job– My point is that the media didn't ask the questions."

When Cuomo tried to dispute this assertion, the director chanted, "The media is complicit. This media is complicit." (Perhaps liberal critiques are the only ones that GMA will accept. In May, Diane Sawyer allowed former Vice President Al Gore to lecture her about television journalism’s obsession with frivolity.)

It should be noted that this is day two of GMA’s pre-taped interview with Moore and he will be featured on the Wednesday edition of "Nightline." Would ABC give such publicity to a conservative media critic? It’s not likely.

Co-anchor Robin Roberts teased the May 13 segment by solemnly noting that Moore "asked some pointed questions at us, the media." In an introduction that mentioned the filmmaker’s new movie "Sicko," Cuomo dutifully parroted Moore’s critique over how the same media that failed the country over Iraq is now botching coverage of health care:

Cuomo: "Interestingly, he's concerned the health care debate will go the same way that he sees the war debate as having gone, where he also places blame with the media. And he hopes the battle to change health care will have a different outcome."

Apparently Moore’s attack on ABC was too much, even for someone with such a fine liberal pedigree as Chris Cuomo. (The ABC host is the son of former Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo and the brother of New York’s Democratic Attorney General.) Cuomo bristled at the contention that the media is complicit in the deaths of American soldiers:

Cuomo: "You want to talk about this house. You want to make a grand statement about this house? This house is the house of Bob Woodruff who went to cover the war and almost got killed because he wanted to show the truth of the situation. I don’t think it’s a situation to make a grand statement about what the media does in a situation like that."

Of course, if Cuomo and GMA found Moore’s thesis so objectionable, why did the network have him on three times in two days?

Cuomo didn’t appear too miffed. He still found time to shoehorn two clips of "Sicko" into the segment (three if you include yesterday’s piece) and to close the interview by bantering with Moore about losing weight. To be fair, the ABC anchor did note that "critics say" he minimizes the high taxes that countries with universal health care pay. However, the main focus of his interview centered around discussing media criticism and, essentially, promoting the filmmaker’s movie. Co-host Diane Sawyer helpfully announced, "‘Sicko’ is in theaters on Friday, June 29." She also promised that GMA would spend all next week investigating the health care industry. More than likely, the director will be pleased with what they find out.

It should also be noted that Moore’s contention, that the media went easy on Bush prior the Iraq war, has been thoroughly debunked by the MRC.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on June 13 at 7:40am, follows:

7:30am tease

Robin Roberts: "This morning, he is a flame thrower and he is back at it. We’re talking about Michael Moore with his new documentary ‘Sicko.’ This time he’s taking aim at America’s ailing health care system and that’s not all. You know, he asked some pointed questions at us, the media. He’s going to continue his conversation with Chris Cuomo this morning and you’ll hear it in just a little bit."

7:40

Diane Sawyer: "Michael Moore is never afraid to go on the attack, as everyone knows from his award-winning filmmaking. And we talked with him about his new film, ‘Sicko.’ It is a blistering attack on the health care industry. Chris Cuomo talked yesterday with him and he’s back with more today."

Chris Cuomo: "You know, and as you say, when Michael Moore attacks a problem, he really takes it on. And he likes to place blame as well when he does that. With health care, he blames the industry. He blames the government and he blames the media for not asking tough questions. Interestingly, he's concerned the health care debate will go the same way that he sees the war debate as having gone, where he also places blame with the media. And he hopes the battle to change health care will have a different outcome."

Michael Moore: "My point is, is that, is that had ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, been more aggressive in confronting the government with what they were telling us back in 2003 about Iraq, you might have prevented this war. You, this network, the other networks. Those 3,500 soldiers that are dead today may not have had to die had our news media done its job. And it's hard for me to even kind of sit here, really, in a way, and think about that it's this building, in part, that, because the people didn't do their job– My point is that the media didn't ask the questions."

Cuomo: "No. The media asked the questions. We heard them all the time."

Moore: "No, the media got embedded and went on board for a little thrill ride, to, ‘Let's take over Baghdad in nine days.’"

Cuomo: "Listen, if you've ever been on an embed, you would realize that it's not a thrill ride. Those men and women have put themselves in danger because they want people back home to see what’s going on."

Moore: "Yeah."

Cuomo: "Be careful with how you characterize it, Michael. Believe me."

Moore: "No. I don't have to be careful because–"

Cuomo: "To say the media is complicit in the deaths of soldiers–"

Moore: "Yes. The media is complicit. This media is complicit."

Cuomo: "People who risked their lives to go to the war, to see what was going on and what wasn’t. I mean, how can you say that? You want to talk about this house. You want to make a grand statement about this house? This house is the house of Bob Woodruff who went to cover the war and almost got killed because he wanted to show the truth of the situation. I don’t think it’s a situation to make a grand statement about what the media does in a situation like that."

Moore: "The media didn't ask the questions that should have been asked. And by the way, I meant no disrespect to Bob Woodruff or anybody who has suffered as a result of that."

Cuomo: "I understand."

Moore: "It is– In fact, I saw his special when he came back here a couple months ago. Powerful, powerful stuff."

Cuomo: "Moore is passionate about the war, but also about another issue that matters to so many: Health care. He says the current system isn't working. In ‘Sicko,’ he finds this uninsured patient who lost two fingers and is forced to make an expensive choice, which one he wants reattached."

[Brief clip from ‘Sicko’]

Cuomo: "Moore's solution is a single-payer system that's not profit-based."

Moore: "Every other western industrialized country has single payer health insurance system, except us. And, each of those countries, they live as long or longer than we do."

Cuomo: "‘Sicko’ is filled with examples of free or virtually free care around the world, from cheap prescription drugs to free hospital stays. In Britain, there is even a hospital cashier who gives you money."

[Brief clip from ‘Sicko’]

Unidentified Man: "Those who have reduced means get their travel expenses reimbursed."

Moore: "So, in British hospitals, instead of money going in to the cashiers window, money comes out."

[‘Sicko’ Clip ends]

Cuomo: "It says it all for you, huh?"

Moore: "That's about it right there. I mean, I think when Americans see this movie, It’s like, you know, people in the studio are laughing at that, but they're only laughing because they're like ‘What?’"

Cuomo: "But critics say the countries Moore represents as ideal all have some serious problems like high tax burdens and long wait times for treatment. In Canada, the average wait for non-emergency treatment is 18 weeks. And while health care reform is a focus on the campaign trail, no top tier candidate is considering a single-pair system. Moore says he knows why."

Moore: "These guys are bought and paid for by this industry. And that's why we're not going to have change as long as that system of money, buying our politicians, continues to exist in this country."

Cuomo: "But pending that solution, Moore thinks Americans need to do their own part to avoid the health care system in the first place, including himself. He's come up with a new plan for less Moore."

Moore: "I’m thinking, you know, I’m making a movie about health care. How hypocritical is this? I'm not even taking care of my own health. And so, so–"

Cuomo: "You're why it costs me so much for health care."

Moore: "Well, because you got blessed with a better metabolism system than I got. So, you know, I changed what I was eating, not that radically, just started eating a few more of these things they call–"

Cuomo: "Vegetables?"

Moore: "Vegetables. And the other one is fruits."

Cuomo: "Fruits, yes."

Moore: "You know, guys like me from the Midwest, I mean, we're not ever going to do diets or go to a spinning class, so–"

Cuomo: "He is certainly passionate. Moore says he's already lost weight and he's exercising all the time. This film will certainly give people a lot to talk about."

Sawyer: "Yes, striking. It’s something really important and everybody knows it has to be fixed as you said earlier in our last half hour. We want you to send us your health care stories too. ‘Sicko’ is in theaters on Friday, June 29. All next week, we’re going to take our own comprehensive look at the insurance industry."

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org