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McCamy Taylor

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Member since: Tue Nov 9, 2004, 06:05 PM
Number of posts: 14,464

About Me

Here is my fiction website: http://home.earthlink.net/~mccamytaylor/ My political cartoon site: http://www.grandtheftelectionohio.com/

Journal Archives

How BCBS Became Judge, Jury and Executioner for "Enemy" Doctors in Texas

Introduction:

Just in case you have ever wondered why insurance companies and their representatives seem so cocky when dealing with individual physicians, maybe it is because they have so much power. All that money allows them to do things that you might think were impossible---like stifle the doctors who are supposed to be advocates for their patients by usurping control of the regulatory bodies that police doctors.

This is a real story. In happened in Texas between 2003 and 2007. The next time you hear a physician whistle-blower describe insurance abuses, remind yourself that he or she does so at great personal risk. Where there is money involved, there are likely to be a lot of unscrupulous people who will stop at nothing to protect that money---especially if the money is coveted by Blue Cross Blue Shield, the mega-behemoth of insurers which has been guilty, among other things, of lying about losses so that it can raise premiums and dump sick patients and defrauding Medicare (and yes, the links are easy to provide if you really want them. The NYT covers big stories like those). BCBS, whose MikeHightower was one of Bush's Pioneers. BCBS which counted among its board members Uncle Bucky Bush. BCBS which was the only non-bankster in the list of top donors to Bush in 2004. Bush---who bragged about the Texas Patient Protection Act (which he vetoed) in a 2000 debate with Gore then had Ashcroft get it struck down in federal court for his good buddies in the insurance industry. Bush, who set back the cause of universal health care for eight years.

Dirty Dealings in Texas (On The Texas State Medical Board)

http://www.txmedicallicensinglaw.com/2007/09/articles/texas-medical-board/member-of-texas-medical-board-resigns-amid-flood-of-criticism/

Remember Dr. Keith Miller? A Ricky Perry appointee. He served on the Texas Medical Board. The board that is supposed to keep the public safe by making sure that doctors practice good quality medicine. Turns out that Miller had a conflict of interest. He worked for BCBS, at a time when health insurers were attempting to control costs by rationing care. When an insurance company wanted to punish a doctor that it did not like, it would make an anonymous complaint. And then, no matter what the evidence, Dr. Miller would make sure that the doctor suffered.

However, critics of Dr. Miller’s tenure have further accused him of improperly using his position on the TMB to transform the Enforcement Committee into a virtual arm of the insurance industry. Board Rules allow anonymous complaints to be made to the TMB which can then serve as the basis of a disciplinary action. Aggrieved physicians have alleged that insurance providers who are dissatisfied with the level of care provided to a covered patient have used such anonymous complaints as a way to punish doctors and maintain low cost levels. Such physicians point out that it is not actually the standard of care which motivates these anonymous complaints but rather a doctor’s decision to supply care whose cost exceeds insurance company guidelines and therefore hurt profits. These maligned anonymous complaints originate from the insurance providers and not the actual patients. In fact the patients whose care is supposedly at issue are frequently surprised when notified of the pending disciplinary action and often testify in favor of their doctor.

Miller’s opponents specifically point to his position on the Texas Medical Advisory Committee of Blue Cross Blue Shield as evidence of his close ties with insurance providers. For instance, Dr. Steven Holtze president of the Project for Freedom of Access to Natural Solutions has alleged that Dr. Miller has used his position to sanction practitioners of environmental medicine, an area of practice disfavored by some insurance providers. This included disciplinary proceedings against Dr. William Rea, the founder of the Environmental Health Center in Dallas.

The Texas Medical Board initiated their investigation into Dr. Rea following an anonymous complaint which was later found to have been made by the insurance provider for five of his patients. Even though eighteen expert witnesses and all five patients testified in favor of Dr. Rea, the TMB, relying on a single anonymous expert witness, still ruled against the doctor. At the proceeding, Dr. Miller is alleged to have explicitly disregarded all of Dr. Rea’s rebuttal evidence and assured him that he was going to get his license no matter what.


http://theeprovocateur.blogspot.com/2008/05/blue-cross-blue-shield-vs-private.html

One of the doctors that got in BCBS's way was Dr. Shirley Pigott. She decided to help other Texas doctors organize to fight insurance abuses. BCBS did not like that. So, they used their doctors inside the Texas Academy of Family Physicians and the Texas State Medical Board to stop her. And, they sent a ringer--a patient to file a frivolous complaint so that their man, Dr. Miller on the Board could railroad her.

Too bad for them, she fought back.

http://www.personalconsult.com/articles/texasmedboardhenchman.html

Dr. Shirley Pigott was indefatigable in her investigations of Miller. Dr. Pigott uncovered Miller's relationship with Hughes, his work as an expert witness for plaintiff attorneys against physicians and his conflict of interest as a member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Medical Advisory Committee which looks for ways to cut costs by limiting physicians' evaluations and treatment of patients. Dr. Pigott deserves our deepest gratitude.


This story had a happy ending...sort of. In 2007, doctors sued the entire Texas State Medical Board. Turns out another doctor on the Board had her husband "turn in" her competitors so she could drive them out of business.

http://www.aapsonline.org/press/122107.php

Dr. Miller tried to sue the whistleblowers. That did not get him very far.

http://www.jpands.org/vol17no1/huntoon.pdf

However, while everyone was properly horrified at doctors for working for BCBS to stab other doctors in the back in order to make sure that doctors were too afraid to fight back against insurance company abuses--which included denials of necessary services and care---I can not find anyplace where BCBS suffered at all for what they did. They continued to be the official insurer for the Texas Employee Retirement System until just a couple of years ago, when they screamed bloody murder because someone else got the contract. I guess they figured their good buddy Rick Perry had them covered.

Moral, never ever underestimate the lengths an insurance company will go to make a buck. There is absolutely nothing too low, too devious, too illegal. Just because they have the word "insurance" in their name, they are no more virtuous than Big Oil or the Banking Industry. The bottom line is still money.
Posted by McCamy Taylor | Sat Jul 19, 2014, 03:25 PM (0 replies)

Let's Have a Toast for the Tea Party "Tin Ear"

You gotta love the Tea Party. First they are against...

Care!

Then they were against....

Marriage!

Now they are against....

Children!

What will they be against next?

Motherhood?

Baseball?

Apple Pie?

The Tea Party, your anti-care/marriage/children party. Thank Karl Rove and the Koch brothers they chose to ally themselves with the GOP, because with public relations guys like that, there is only one way they are going...



Toast.

Posted by McCamy Taylor | Sat Jul 19, 2014, 02:32 PM (3 replies)

Would the Violence in Gaza Stop if More Brave Young Americans Did This?

This video touched me...the result of this brave young man's actions shocked me.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=680935605323935

Would police really wrestle a young American to the ground and wrap his face in a cloth, gagging him, because he dared to speak out for the people of Gaza? Yeah, I guess they would. Police are police the world over. But, would the Israeli legislator, who called upon her country to exterminate old women and children (little snakes) because terrorists hide among---would that same woman demand that her country bomb areas where American citizens were standing in solidarity with the people of Gaza? American citizens who happened to be Jewish? Or, would words of compassion coming from members of the faith which Israelis value so dearly reach their ears in a way that the same words coming from ancient "enemies"---Christians and Muslims---never can?

Israel does not represent Judaism, any more than the Conquistadors represented Catholicism. Both were/are political groups that have a religion which they use but which they do not always represent, political groups having interests which are not always best served by spiritual values.

When self proclaimed "Buddhists" in Myanmar burn mosques and attack Muslims, we know that they do not represent true Buddhism.
http://www.worldbulletin.net/world/139870/buddhists-attack-mosque-muslim-shops-in-myanmar

It does not matter if they wear robes. Buddhists, like me are not fooled. We do not make excuses for the violence. We do not express support for the awful dualism. We do not hesitate to call this what it is----genocidal violence carried out by one group against another group, hardly different from what happened in Rwanda except no one is carrying a machete.

It is summer. Maybe it is time for some young Americans to take a vacation to the Middle East. Maybe it is time for them to demonstrate their faith in action, nonviolently, the way that MLK JR and Gandhi demonstrated their faith. If someone wants to start a group, I'm willing to donate. Maybe if the U.S. stopped sending so many weapons and started sending more minds, we would be doing our closest ally in the middle east more good.



Posted by McCamy Taylor | Sat Jul 19, 2014, 02:21 PM (5 replies)

How Do We Know that BCBS is not Deliberately Trying to Torpedo the ACA?

I'm gonna make this short and sweet. You can look at the article I wrote at Kos if you want the links. Up until the passage of the ACA, BCBS partnered with ALEC to defeat it. And now, everywhere you look---especially in California---people are complaining about "bait and switch" being committed upon them by BCBS reps. Every time I hear one of these stories about someone who was told "Your doctors are in the network" only the doctors are not in the network, it is always a BCBS plan.

What if it is not just plain old incompetence? BCBS is no fly by night just started up company. It is enormous. It has been around forever. What if BCBS failed to scuttle the ACA in Congress so they decided to do it by selling the wrong plans to the wrong people on purpose, convinced that no one in the administration would want to lift a finger or say a word for fear of making the ACA look bad--and the ACA ends up looking bad because so many people get nothing for their money?

Anthem is being sued in California. Maybe the feds ought to take the whole Blue Empire to court. There have to be other health insurers out there who would love to have the business that BCBS apparently doesn't want badly enough to try to keep customers satisfied---or even this side of furious.


Here what I wrote with links.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/07/17/1314804/-Got-the-ACA-Anthem-Blue-Fraud-Blues
Posted by McCamy Taylor | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 11:04 PM (6 replies)

War is the Deadliest Disease

During a public health class, the lecturer spoke of a conference in which the speaker said that thanks to advances in disease prevention, most of the world's communicable diseases would be wiped out in a decade. I thought about this for a second. It sounded good---but implausible. It only took me a moment to figure out why. I was a lot older than the other 20 something students. I had been around a long time. I raised my hand.

"Only if we eliminate war," I said. "War destroys all public health infrastructure."

There is no disease so deadly as war. Even Ebola strikes by accident. Ebola does not deliberately target the women of the opposition, raping them in order to impregnate them, in order to dispirit them. Ebola does not turn children into soldiers, imprinting their young minds with images so ghastly that they will never be sane, no matter how much psychotherapy they have. You can outwit Ebola. Ebola can not steal dozens of young women and hide them away, threatening to sell them into slavery. Ebola can not sell blood diamonds in exchange for bigger, better weapons with which to kill more effectively.

Coronary artery disease strikes middle aged men and elderly women. It does not take out children, because the middle aged men happen to be standing among the children. The same for stroke. Vascular disease does not mean to terrify you into submission. It just is. If you eat a balanced diet and don't smoke and exercise, there is a good chance that you can avoid vascular disease. Some people have no chance of avoiding war. If you live in a country where a fascist dictator has decided that your race or ethnic group or religious group will make a convenient scapegoat, you will die. If you are standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, playing ball with your brothers and sisters, you won't die of a heart attack or a stroke, but you could die from a bomb. You could even die from a bomb that someone planted twenty years ago beneath the ground in a war that ended before you were born---because wars never really end.

When you have an asthma attack, your asthma will not leap from your chest and accidentally kill someone passing by--but a bullet aimed for your head can. Your tuberculosis may infect your neighbor, but it won't leap up into the sky and shoot down a plane that just happens to be passing overhead. War turns health care workers into CIA spies--and therefore children catch polio. War destroys water treatment plants, causing cholera. War destroys crops, causing famine. War is the first and last horseman of the apocalypse.

Eventually, when the wars "over there" get bad enough, someone "over there" brings it "over here". Civilians die. We rally around the flag. We send out the troops. Our troops die by the thousands. Their civilians die by the millions. Our troops come home. Some have PTSD. Some kill themselves. Some just live as if they were dead. Once you have seen death up close, it is hard to forget it.

War is an excuse for every atrocity. No civil liberty is safe in time of war. War devours the nation's resources. The most basic human necessities must come second to the needs of the war machine.

War puts everyone at risk. No one is safe. Trying to solve the world's disputes by war is like trying to harvest crops with fire----

Posted by McCamy Taylor | Thu Jul 17, 2014, 08:09 PM (1 replies)

Life Without CPAP: A Cautionary Tale About Public Healthcare Resource Rationing

Life Without CPAP is about a public hospital and clinic system that decided that sleep studies to detect sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and treatments for OSA such as CPAP were ineffective and too expensive. The money spent diagnosing and treating sleep disorders could be better spent elsewhere. And so, the administrators adopted a system wide policy. No county patient would get a sleep study. No one would get CPAP. Period. If anyone was in danger of dying from untreated OSA, they would be offered a tracheostomy—a surgical procedure in which a hole is cut in the throat and a tube in inserted in the airway. A permanent fix. And about as appropriate for most OSA as decapitation would be for migraine headaches.

The decision was a quiet one. There was no sign over the door of the hospital advising patients that if they had a sleep disorder, they should probably seek treatment elsewhere. The people being seen assumed that their health care providers would diagnose and treat their medical problems to the best of their ability. Since public awareness of sleep disorders is low, very few of them would have noticed if a sleep disorder was missed or not treated. They were grateful to be getting “free” health care that they otherwise could not afford.

This book is about the five years I spent working as a family physician with an interest in sleep disorders for a public health system that declared that sleep disorders did not exist—and if they did, we would not treat them. Sort of like Alice through the looking glass.

While the administrators’ intentions were good----allocate limited resources where they could be used most effectively---the results were not what they hoped. For sleep is an essential function of all higher animals, including humans. If you disrupt sleep, you disrupt the system of checks and balances that keep our bodies functioning in times of low stress. Sleep disorders tell the body, in effect, “You are living in a time of war. Mobilize all your defenses now. Live like there is no tomorrow.”

Do that long enough, and there may well be no tomorrow. Blood pressure goes up. Blood sugar goes up. The appetite goes up---have to put on pounds in preparation for that coming famine. Stress goes through the roof. So does paranoia. Can’t trust anyone. Pain levels rise, the body’s way of keeping you alert even when you don’t need to be alert. The libido falls. Don’t want to sire any children, not with all this danger looming. The elevated blood pressure and sugar take their toll on the arteries. Here comes that first heart attack at 3 am in the morning. That first stroke----

Now, add in unlimited medical resources to treat the results of that chronic sleep deprivation and what do you get? A lot of money spent chasing consequences when it might be cheaper and more effective to treat the underlying disease. But once folks in power make up their minds, it can very hard to persuade them to change their minds. If you know that sleep disorders are inconsequential and that the available treatments are ineffective, you will not see sleep disorders. You will see an epidemic of coronary artery disease and uncontrolled diabetes. You will allocate your resources towards the cardiology department. You will hire more clinical pharmacologists to get your patients’ blood sugars under control----

Never realizing that all that money is being thrown down an enormous sinkhole. For, if you fix the coronary arteries without fixing the underlying sleep apnea, the heart will quickly become diseased again. If you control the sugars without controlling the OSA, the patient will continue to put on weight. If you allow sleep deprived men and women to drive on the streets of your community, they put everyone at risk, and Everyone will be brought to your emergency room in an ambulance to be treated for their life threatening injuries.

What’s that you ask? What difference does it make to you, in your community, if people with sleep apnea in some other part of the country are not getting the treatment they need? Right now, at this very moment, around 8% of Americans over 40 all across the country have OSA and do not know it. But they sense that something is wrong. As more and more of them get insurance, they will seek out doctors, trying to figure out why their minds are no longer sharp, why their bodies seem to be falling apart, why they ache all over. They will visit doctors complaining of memory loss---and their new doctors will get expensive neurologic work ups. They will describe joint and muscle pains---and they will be checked for arthritic conditions and get MRIs of their spines, knees and shoulders. They will describe their panic attacks---and spends years in therapy, taking two, then three, then four medications, some of which will cause their weight to rocket up, making their underlying sleep disorder all that much worse. They will talk about the palpitations that wake them from sleep and get extensive cardiology evaluations. These tests will cost tens of thousands of dollars. They will see specialists and subspecialists. And, in 4 times out of 5, none of the doctors will guess what is really wrong with the patient, unless he happens to be hospitalized and unless a nurse happens to walk by in the middle of the night when he is snoring and she or he notices that the patient has frequent pauses in breathing and the nurse alerts the doctor and the doctor knows what the snoring and apneic spells mean.

Because, with the exception of pulmonologists (lung specialists), Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialists and a handful of Sleep Medicine Specialists, American doctors are extremely bad at diagnosing sleep disorders. So bad, that they miss 8 cases out 10. Meaning that unless something is done to bring physicians up to speed, they will waste a lot of valuable time and medical resources before their patients with OSA receive a correct diagnosis.

How much time and how much money?

Back in 1999, Kapur et al. calculated the excessive cost associated with undiagnosed OSA as $2700 versus $1,384 per year. In other words, in the year before doctors determined that someone was, in fact, suffering from sleep apnea, they did tests and treatment totaling twice what they would have done on the average person. Where did the money go? To work up chest pain. To treat uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure. To look for brain tumors and multiple sclerosis.

“Although the data are limited, the effect of sleep disorders, chronic sleep loss, and sleepiness on accident rates, performance deficits, and health care utilization on the American economy is significant. The high estimated costs to society of leaving the most prevalent sleep disorders untreated are far more than the costs that would be incurred by delivering adequate treatment.”

From Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19958/

There is an epidemic of undiagnosed and untreated sleep disorders. It has a huge economic impact on our country. It affects road safety, work place safety. It leads to early disability and retirement, putting a strain on the Social Security fund and Medicare.

If we get universal healthcare without improving our primary care physicians’ ability to recognize and treat sleep disorders like sleep apnea, we risk wasting enormous sums of money the way that the health clinic I am about to describe wasted health care resources treating the effects of sleep apnea instead of addressing the underlying problem.

From the Introduction to Life Without CPAP, available free for five days at Amazon for Kindle (and other electronic readers) by McCamy Taylor. http://www.amazon.com/Life-Without-CPAP-Healthcare-Eliminated-ebook/dp/B00LS9K5GG/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1405537020&sr=1-4&keywords=mccamy+taylor If you would like to read Life Without CPAP but do not have an electronic reader send me a message and I can send you a word document.
Posted by McCamy Taylor | Wed Jul 16, 2014, 02:58 PM (23 replies)

Have You Ever Been "Forced Out" or the Victim of Retaliation for Criticizing or Blowing a Whistle?

Just curious. I suspect that a lot of people who post online at a forum like DU are also outspoken in their lives, on their jobs, at their childrens' schools, in their neighborhoods, at the organizations where they volunteer. How many of you were forced out for doing what you thought was the right thing---speaking up when a wrong was being committed, giving advice that went against the grain, making a complaint? How many of you were retaliated against? What happens when the group or organization doing the retaliation is one whose mission you believe in? Do you suffer pangs of conscience? Did you keep the retaliation secret, because you did not want to hurt the reputation of the group?

This is NOT about Edward Snowden, so let's not make it about him. If some of you will share your stories, I may open up and share mine.
Posted by McCamy Taylor | Mon Jul 14, 2014, 01:20 PM (26 replies)

Poor/Unemployed/Homeless Appreciation Thread

This is about all the things that folks do for other people. Things like staying home to take care of an aging parent, even though it means giving up on one income in a two income family at a time when having two incomes is the only way most middle class families can rise out of poverty. Like serving two or three tours of duty in a war for oil in a desert country and then coming home to find that no one wants to hire you, because everyone thinks that the war was a big embarrassment that they would rather forget (and they have heard too many horror stories about PTSD). Like letting homeless friends sleep on your sofa and eat at your table, even though you aren't doing so well yourself, but you've done the homeless thing and you know how it feels to be in desperate need of food and a bath. Like giving your neighbor who is too old or infirm to drive a ride to her doctor's appointment and not asking for gas money, because you know her Social Security check is even lower than your minimum wage check. Like working days and then coming home nights to care for a dying partner who outweighs you by a hundred pounds----sometimes you feel as if your back will break when you try to help him to the bathroom, but it never occurs to you to leave, even though if you did, the state would assume him care and you would be much better off financially and physically. Like quitting work and home schooling your special needs child because your school district has cracks so wide she would fall into the sewer and be swept into the ocean if you didn't.

There are lots of reasons that some folks in this country are poor. The one that people tend to forget is that when you take care of a child, an elderly parent, an extended family or needy neighbors and friends, that pushes you into poverty, too. In this country, children, the elderly, the disabled and their caregivers are the poor.







Posted by McCamy Taylor | Sat Jul 12, 2014, 12:14 PM (10 replies)

The John and Elizabeth Edwards Appreciation Thread or Why John Solomon and the MSM Can Burn in Hell

Yes, I am going here. The same press that called Gore a Liar and called Kerry a Waffler attacked Edwards before he was even out of the gate. They had their man, John Solomon on the case, reporting on Edwards house, his hair, his hairdresser. Solomon all but called him gay. I think Ann Coulter really did call him gay. At the same time, the national press--the same people who declared Gore a Liar and Kerry a Waffler---declared that Obama and Hillary were locked in a Two Man Race as early as Jan 2007. And they shunned Edwards. After the initial flurry of slime pieces, no matter what he did, he could not get any coverage. It was a total media lock out. Had Edwards walked on water, we would have heard about the cut of Hillary's pantsuit or Obama's new tie.

The press told Democrats: "You have two candidates. You can choose from Obama or Hillary."

When Edwards came in second in Iowa, we were told that Obama came in first and Hillary came in second. Edwards second place finish meant that he was out of the race. We were told this on Countdown of all places. But by then it was old news. Because the corporate bosses had been following the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Citicorp/J.P.Morgan/BlueCross/Pfizer/BigOil script all along.

Which president would have held war crimes tribunals? Which president would have made banksters do the perp walk? Which president would have gotten on television and pleaded with the nation to deliver single payer health care----for the memory of his departed wife. Yes, the GOP knew that Elizabeth would die. They remembered what LBJ was able to accomplish by asking Americans to do it for JFK. Think about the sheer impossibility of passing Medicare and the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s. But LBJ and Humphrey did it---with the help of a nation in mourning. The Bushies and the GOP were absolutely terrified of what the widower president Edwards would have been able to accomplish for the memory of his wife---

And so they character assassinated Edwards, deprived the couple of all hope, more than likely contributed to him seeking solace in the arms of another woman when it became clear that there was no way that they could win against the odds that were stacked against them and there would be no third chance for Elizabeth...



When Hillary Clinton is president, I want her to make single payer a priority. And I want them to name it the Elizabeth Edwards Act. To prove that the MSM does not always get its way.
Posted by McCamy Taylor | Wed Jul 9, 2014, 07:05 PM (60 replies)

One from the Vaults: "How Redstone Sold Dan Rather for 20 Pieces of Silver"

I am absolutely overjoyed that they are finally making a film about one of the most shameful moments of Mainstream Medium Whoredom---the Viacom conspiracy to get Bush re-selected so that Viacom could thwart media ownership rules. The price for Viacom? It's star reporter, Dan Rather. Here is what I wrote in 2007. Man, I was beginning to think that this day would never come! Go, Rather! Go, Mapes! Here's to Truth! Oh, and btw, after the Bush Was AWOL Story, 60 Minutes Planned to start investigating rumors of 2000 style voter suppression activity in swing states. That would have been very, very bad for W. and company. Good thing for them that someone pulled the plug on Mapes/Rather and Co.

To those who may be tempted to say "Get over it" not on your life.

Ok, here is what I wrote in 2007.:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x3539083

As everyone knows by now, Dan Rather, who has the highest recognizability and highest favorability rating of any anchor in the US and who was dropped like a hot potato by CBS after the authenticity of a single document in a single program was called into question, has filed a $70million law suit against his former employer.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/09/20...

In the suit, filed a day earlier in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, Rather claimed CBS and Viacom Inc. used him as a "scapegoat" and intentionally botched the aftermath of a discredited story about President Bush's military service to curry favor with the White House. He was removed from his "CBS Evening News" post in March 2005.


As another DU member has posted, Viacom's chief, Sumner Redstone made no bones about which presidential candidate he favored in the 2004 election:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110005669

The chairman of the entertainment giant Viacom said the reason was simple: Republican values are what U.S. companies need. Speaking to some of America's and Asia's top executives gathered for Forbes magazine's annual Global CEO Conference, Mr. Redstone declared: "I look at the election from what's good for Viacom. I vote for what's good for Viacom. I vote, today, Viacom.

"I don't want to denigrate Kerry," he went on, "but from a Viacom standpoint, the election of a Republican administration is a better deal. Because the Republican administration has stood for many things we believe in, deregulation and so on. The Democrats are not bad people. . . . But from a Viacom standpoint, we believe the election of a Republican administration is better for our company."



What an understatement. The truth was, Viacom/CBS desperately needed a second Bush term if it was to hold together its media empire and watch it grow, and it feared a John Kerry presidency. Here's a summary of what was going on behind the scenes at CBS from CommonDreams.org:

http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0403-25.htm

In the spring of 2003, Michael Powell tried to hand over the airwaves and newspapers to fewer and fewer tycoons by further loosening restrictions on how many media outlets a single company could own. Powell tried to scrap 30-year-old rules that limited the reach of any television network to no more than 35 percent of the national population, and limits on cross-ownership that, for example, prevented newspapers from buying television or radio stations in the same city. The new rules would have allowed a broadcast network to buy up stations that together reached 45 percent of the national population.

The attack on the existing media-ownership rules came from predictable corners: Both Viacom, which owns CBS, and Rupert Murdoch's conservative FOX News Channel were already in violation, and would be forced to sell off stations to come into compliance with the 35-percent limit. The rule change would enable Murdoch to control the airwaves of entire cities. That would be fine with Bush and the Powells, since Murdoch is one of their biggest boosters.

<snip>

It looked like Powell, backed by the Bush White House and with Republican control of Congress, would have no trouble ramming through these historic rule changes. The broadcast industry left nothing to chance: Between 1998 and 2004, broadcasters spent a boggling $249 million lobbying the federal government, including spending $27 million on federal candidates and lawmakers.

This would normally be called bribery. At the FCC, it's just business as usual.

You would think that FCC deregulation, affecting millions of Americans, would get major play in the media. But the national networks knew that if people found out about how one media mogul could own nearly everything you watch, hear and read in a city, there would be revolt. The solution for them was simple: They just didn't cover the issue for a year. The only thing the networks did was to join together — and you thought they were competitors? — in a brief filed with the FCC to call for media deregulation.

And then, something remarkable happened: Media activists — an unlikely coalition of liberals and conservatives — mounted a national campaign to defeat Powell and stop the corporate sell-off. The FCC received 2 million letters and e-mails, most of them opposing the sell-off. The Prometheus Radio Project, a grass-roots media activism group, sued to stop the sale of our airwaves, and won in federal court last June. These are hopeful signals that the days of backroom deals by media titans are numbered.



Now, that federal court ruling was a big problem for media giants like Viacom/CBS. After all its hard work and all its money (which had been essentially flushed down the toilet) it was back where it started in 2000---out of compliance with federal media ownership rules with no room to grow. (For those who like legal documents, here is one with lots of facts http://www.mediaaccess.org/filings/vcmcap.pdf ) Unless the case was overturned by the Supreme Court, it was stuck. And Viacom/CBS had another problem. W. was not doing as well as it had hoped, and John Kerry was not the friend of media giants that George W. Bush had been.

http://www.mediachannel.org/views/dissector/affalert212...

Media consolidation, an issue that galvanized millions of Americans in 2003 is nowhere to be found on the election map of 2004. That was until Sunday, when Senator John Kerry ventured forth on CSPAN to confirm that, had he been around to vote on last year's proposal to loosen rules against media ownership, he would have voted against it.

"I wasn't there for the vote, but I was 100 percent in favor of overturning his rule," Kerry told CSPAN executive vice president Susan Swain during an interview taped earlier in the week. The "his" Kerry was referring to is Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell. And the "rule" in question was the FCC's ill-fated effort to allow media companies to buy up more local media outlets by raising an ownership cap from a 35 to a 45 percent reach of the national audience.



This timeline from Bill Moyers shows what was happening in 2003 and early 2004 about the media merger issue:

http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/mediatimeline.html

The Republican Congress was persuaded to raise the media ownership cap just enough to put NewsCorp and Viacom in compliance with the law, but they had no room to grow. (And since Viacom had been described as owning 41% of the nation's television channels in the court documents from 2001, I wonder if some one was fudging the math.) No problem, said the Bush administration. Just as soon as we win this re-election campaign, we are taking the appeal to the Supreme Court, which will raise the federal media ownership cap back up, so you guys in the entertainment business can start expanding again.

So, if you were Sumner Redstone and it was 2004 and you were faced with a choice of George W. Bush who was promising to write you a blank check for unlimited media acquisitions and mergers or John Kerry, who was really uncomfortable with the whole idea of too much media power concentrated into one set of hands, which candidate would you prefer? And if, as I suspect, you were actually out of compliance with the law (television holdings don't just shrink from greater than 41% down to 39% overnight), you might be a little nervous, too, that the current administration might decide to start enforcing the law.

The irony of it all is that the Bush administration never intended to keep its promise to launch a court appeal of the lower court ruling that threw out the FCC federal media owership rule changes. It was Michael Powell, who had done the administration's dirty work for years, who suddenly had a fit a conscience---or maybe he got pissed off at how they treated his dad, and he decided to get even in the best way he knew how, by turning the mainstream media against the Bush administration, by revealing them to be liars and cheats.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A42134-20...

The Bush administration yesterday abandoned plans to ask the Supreme Court to allow a set of controversial rules to take effect that would have loosened restrictions on how large media conglomerates could grow.

The decision disappointed big media companies that had lobbied heavily in support of the rules and thrilled those who had fought to keep tighter rein on how much control one company should have over television, newspapers and radio stations in individual markets.

<snip>

The rules would have allowed television networks such as CBS and Fox to buy a few more television stations nationally and let one company own the biggest newspaper and highest-rated television station in most cities.



Note the date on the Washington Post article. Jan. 28, 2005. When I read that, the curious behavior of the news networks over the exit polls made sense. I also knew that the Bush administration was in for a bumpy second term with the news media, because hell hath no fury.... The administration had waited until after W. was safely sworn in for his second term to admit to their flunkies in the corporate media that they had no intention of keeping their promises, probably because they knew that they would fail. When several of the networks got together to launch their own appeal, they failed. The result was coverage of DSMs, Cindy Sheehan and Katrina.

However, this revelation came too late for Dan Rather and his producer Mary Mapes, who had already been sold for 20 pieces of silver by their boss, Sumner Redstone, who preferred to dismantle the jewel in CBS's crown, 60 Minutes in order to curry favor with the White House in order to make money through mergers, rather than do it the old fashioned way, by producing quality programming.
Posted by McCamy Taylor | Wed Jul 9, 2014, 04:00 PM (14 replies)
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