Filmmaker Michael Moore received an apology from a former health insurance industry executive for his role in attempting to smear the documentarian and his documentary on the for-profit health care industry, Sicko.
“I’m sorry for the part I played in attacking the movie,” said Wendell Potter, a former vice president of corporate communications at CIGNA, who appeared on MSNBC’s Countdown Monday night, along with Moore.
“I knew when I saw the movie the first time that you really got a lot of it right, and I was really not happy at all to be apart of the effort to discredit the movie, but I was still working for the industry then, so my apologies,” he added.
Moore immediately accepted the apology and told Potter that he thinks of him as a “real hero.”
“You’ve done something very brave and courageous, giving up a very good job knowing that you would not earn that income again and probably be vilified by this industry, and coming forward,” Moore said.
Moore said that his exchange with Potter was the first time in his 20-year career that a top executive had ever admitted his role in smearing him and his films.
As the spokesperson for CIGNA, Potter aided the media campaign against Sicko, along with the healthcare industry front group Health Care America, which he said on his blog was once a drug industry front. He later reprised his role to defeat President Barack Obama’s health care reform plan.
The front group was never exposed by any journalists and was quoted extensively, Potter has said.
Potter, now a fellow at the Center for Media and Democracy, a corporate watchdog group, told Moore that at the time he was spying on Moore at the film’s official U.S. premiere, he was considering changing occupations. Potter has said that he concealed his identity while attending the screening with his son, who happened to be a fan of Moore’s work.
“[My son] saw me be very effected by that movie. It’s hard to watch that movie and not almost tear up many times during the movie. I was thinking of leaving my job. I didn’t know how I could do it, but I felt I should do something other than what I was doing,” the health care industry whistleblower said.
In related news, the World Health Organization yesterday launched a global drive for universal health care, noting that over 100 million people enter poverty each year due to illness or extremely high medical bills.
This video was originally broadcast by MSNBC on Monday, Nov. 22, 2010.
With AFP and earlier reporting by Eric W. Dolan.