How Malcolm Gladwell Shilled for the Health Care Lobby ... and Got Away with It
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Gladwell's telling of healthcare history is so out of whack with even the most mainstream accounts, it makes sense to quote at length from Paul Starr's Pulitzer Prize winning history of the American healthcare system, The Social Transformation of American Medicine. Here is how it describes the public relations campaign following Truman's re-election in 1948: "...the AMA thought armageddon had come. It assessed each of its members an additional $25 just to resist health insurance and hired Whitaker and Baxter to mount a public relations campaign that cost $1.5 million in 1949, at that time the most expensive lobbying effort in American history . . . So successful was the campaign in linking health insurance with socialism that even people who supported Truman's plan identified it as "socialized medicine," despite the administration's insistence it was not. Support in public opinion polls, among those who had heard of Truman's plan, dropped from 58 to 36 percent by 1949; three quarters of those who had heard of the plan knew of the AMA's opposition."
This is the history that Malcolm Gladwell left out.
Gladwell's revisionism was as much about defending the interests of the health insurance industry as it was about self-preservation. After all, Malcolm Gladwell has been and still is a crucial part of the corporate propaganda apparatus used to crush democratic reform. By writing corporations out of the history, Gladwell was also writing himself out of history, and covering up his crimes against journalism and the public's trust.
This article is excerpted from The Corruption of Malcolm Gladwell, by Yasha Levine. Copyright 2012.