The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Rendall,,Tel: 212-633-6700 x13

PBS Ombud Sides with Frontline Critics


PBS ombud Michael Getler is siding with critics of a Frontline
documentary that failed to examine single-payer national health
insurance as a possible alternative to the U.S. healthcare system.

Citing FAIR's study "Media Blackout on Single-Payer Healthcare," which documented that single-payer advocates were all but shut out of the media discussion about healthcare reform, Getler stated:

I find myself in agreement with those who wrote initially and who felt it was a missed opportunity by Frontline
to shed some light on where this specific idea - clearly telegraphed in
the previous program about how other countries do it, enjoying some
level of popular and professional support and formalized in a bill
before Congress - stood in today's political environment.

The only alternative to the current U.S. healthcare system that was examined in any depth in Sick Around America was Massachusetts' system of mandating that people buy insurance from for-profit health insurance companies. FAIR had criticized the film for misrepresenting the findings of Frontline's earlier documentary, Sick Around the World
(4/15/08), which had emphasized that all other countries ban insurance
companies from making a profit on basic care, and had discussed single
payer alternatives including Taiwan's healthcare system.

Today, FAIR's radio program CounterSpin airs an interview with T. R. Reid--a Frontline reporter for Sick Around the World who quit the production of Sick Around America because it contradicted the earlier Frontline documentary.(Audio file available at:

FAIR, the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986. We work to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the press and by scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints.