March 5, 2010
Critics called the President's bi-partisan summit on health care "political theater," a "charade" and an opportunity for partisan grand-standing. The same could be said for the media coverage of the summit with the usual suspects lining up in favor or opposed to the proposals and the dialogue. But one group's innovative live coverage of the summit is being called "a game changer" by media watchers.
The Sunlight Foundation
, an organization dedicated to increasing government transparency, live-blogged the entire discussion. But their commentary wasn't based on opinions and conjectures like the normal television punditry. As Mediaite
noted, Sunlight, "gave readers and viewers an endless supply of information from donor data for members of Congress to information on health care expenditures by using live-streaming video, live-blogging, Twitter-feeds, and seven hours of endless data."
Deconstructing the Summit
A word cloud (pictured above) started off the event, visually graphing the language the President was using to make his case a speech where "people" greatly outweighed the "Senate".
During the seven-hour event the experts rounded up by Sunlight backed up their statements with immediate links to the analysis and figures, allowing the online viewers to fact-check and delve into the issues as their interests led. The foundation leveraged the data from other watchdog sources like OpenSecrets.org's campaign finance information to create an effect akin to VH1's Pop-Up Video. Health industry campaign contributions appeared under every speaker's (including the President's) name. Easy-to-understand graphs
also illustrated who on each member's staff had taken the revolving door from politics to the health care lobby.
You can revisit Sunlight's live blogging experience online
and the group has also published a very helpful primer
of how they achieved their success with information for other groups to build on.
Throughout the reform process the Kaiser Family Foundation has kept up a side-by-side comparison
of every plan under consideration. Currently their feature is up-to-date on the House, Senate and Presidential plans. Not only can you see what's in and what's out in each bill, but you can plug in your own financial particulars and see just how much purchasing a plan through the proposed government exchange would cost
See Also: Kaiser Health News: Daily Health Policy Report for policy and media analysis.
The Health Lobby
The Sunlight Foundation utilized data from OpenSecrets.org campaign finance database during their live blogging of the summit. The numbers are large in just 2009 the industry spent $425,115,711 on lobbying. You can check all the data right down to how much is going to your Congressional representatives with the Eye on Congress tool. Of course money isn't everything there's also influence. OpenSecrets.org also tracks in its Revolving Door database which former federal employees into the world of lobbying.
See Also: The Sunlight Foundation's list of potential vote health care vote switchers.
Dr. Margaret Flowers on Medicare for all
Pediatrician Margaret Flowers speaks about protesting for change and her recent arrest in an effort to get a Medicare-for-all plan back on the table. (February 5, 2010)
With almost 20 years inside the health insurance industry, Wendell Potter saw for-profit insurers hijack our health care system and put profits before patients. Now, he speaks with Bill Moyers about how those companies are standing in the way of health care reform. (July 10, 2009)
Marcia Angell and Trudy Lieberman
Bill Moyers sits down with Trudy Lieberman, director of the health and medical reporting program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and Marcia Angell, senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School and former editor in chief of the NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE. (July 24, 2009)
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich sits down with Bill Moyers to talk about the influence of lobbyists on policy, the economy, and the ongoing debate over health care. (June 12, 2009)
FRONTLINE: "Sick Around the World"
FRONTLINE travels to five other wealthy capitalist democracies Great Britain, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, and Switzerland to find out how they provide health care to all of their citizens for a fraction of the cost of the U.S. system.
Moyers on Health Care
Explore highlights on the debate over health care reform and get tools to track industry lobbying and campaign dollars