In a world filled with hype, everyone has a sales pitch

January 1, 2011

A new book, "Deadly Spin," goes after corporate PR, contending that it is ruining healthcare and deceiving Americans.

Let me save you a few dollars. I have an advance copy of the book "Deadly Spin," written by former insurance public-relations man Wendell Potter. I'll share the gist of the book so you don't have to buy it.

Offering the insider's perspective on industry activities-as well as his own sticky judgment calls-seems to be a cathartic soul cleansing for him.

The plan later reversed its decision in the face of scathing publicity, offering to cover the transplant with its own funds, independent of the ERISA-plan sponsor. Unfortunately, the teen passed away before the procedure, and the uneasy Potter eventually quit his six-figure PR job.

While it would be easy to become defensive and say that Potter is bashing insurers to get attention, I'll concede that he makes some valid points. These points have more to do with media than with healthcare, however.

He says PR propaganda, in general, is cheap and easy to spread around, while balanced analyses are much more difficult to produce and disseminate. With the progress of digital media, hype is at our fingertips, and credible sources are fewer and farther between.

I'll give him that.

However, there isn't a single industry that doesn't push out messages to show itself in a good light. Everyone has a sales pitch.

And I can't help but notice that Potter is out on the road as we speak, hawking his book with a grand drumbeat of PR charisma. He's also been on television recently, patting filmmaker Michael Moore on the back and apologizing to him for trying to discredit Sicko when it was released in 2007.

Is Potter out to sell books? Is Moore out to sell movies? Or are either of them trying to help Americans receive better healthcare? You decide.