4:43 PM Eastern - Thursday, April 30, 2009

SEIU Calls on CNN and FOX News to Pull Ads

Yesterday, SEIU sent letters to FOX News and CNN requesting they pull a grossly misleading ad by Rick Scott's "Conservatives for Patients Rights." The ads, which contain false statements and misleading quotes from doctors, were produced by the same PR firm that created the now-widely discredited "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ads against Sen. John Kerry in 2004.

Below are the reasons we are asking for this ad to be taken down:

  • Rick Scott, the narrator featured in the advertisement, misleads viewers about the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research, a newly-created entity by the economic recovery package signed into law by President Obama in February. Mr. Scott makes a specific claim: "not only could a government board deny your choice in doctors, but it can control life and death for some patients." This statement is demonstrably false. In reality, the powers of this so-called "government board" are clearly defined and cannot do what Mr. Scott claims. The statutory authority of the Council specifically excludes the power "to mandate coverage, reimbursement, or other policies for any public or private payer." It is worth noting that even under President Bush, the National Institute of Health already had an annual budget of $355 million to conduct precisely this type of research. Plainly, this has not led to the sort of catastrophic consequences in America that Mr. Scott warns against.

  • The advertisement further deceives viewers by blatantly misrepresenting the positions of two physicians. While the advertisement paints both as opponents of any role for government in health care reform, in reality, just the opposite is true. Both physicians are in fact supporters of universal health care. What they are opposed to is the U.S. 'two-tiered' system that already rations health care based on the ability to pay. In fact, Mr. Scott misrepresented Dr. Day's comments, and Dr. Day openly mocked the ineffectiveness of the U.S. health care system. What Dr. Day is opposed to is Canada's outdated funding model, not Canada's healthcare system. Dr. Day actually advocates reform of the funding structure to preserve Canada's healthcare system, not dismantle it.


CNN has provided a disappointing response to our request. According to their lawyer, they are giving CPR five business days to respond. During this time, they will continue running CPR's ad. The 60-second ad runs until May 7th, which means that if CPR fails to defend the gross misstatements and distortions in their ad, they only stand to lose one day of airtime.

CNN claims this is "standard" policy for advertising disputes. If that's the case, no wonder CPR chose to run their misleading advertisement on their network.

Download our entire letter to CNN and FOX News.

Join the chorus of viewers calling for CNN and FOX News to adhere to their own truth-in-advertising policies and remove this ad: http://action.seiu.org/page/s/TellFoxNews

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