CNN And Michael Moore Trade Angry Accusations Over `Sicko' Accuracy

Monday, July 16th 2007, 9:36 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ ``Sicko'' filmmaker Michael Moore called a truce Monday in his weeklong fight with CNN that flared when the network accused him of fudging facts in his popular documentary about the health-care system.

Moore had promised the network over the weekend that ``I'm about to become your worst nightmare,'' leading CNN to post on its Web site a remarkably lengthy response to his accusations.

He noted in an interview Monday that CNN had admitted to two mistakes in reporting on ``Sicko'' and that he's willing to move on.

``I trust the intelligence of the American people,'' Moore told The Associated Press. ``I don't think there's a whole lot more to do with this other than I and others are going to be a lot more skeptical with what I see on CNN.''

CNN, in its statement, noted that it has given Moore multiple opportunities to discuss his concerns about the report on the air.

``It's ironic that someone who has made a career out of holding powerful interests accountable is so sensitive to having his own work held up to the light by impartial journalists, as we did in our examination of `Sicko,''' CNN said.

Shortly before Moore appeared for an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer last week, the network ran a report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta that had done some fact-checking on Moore's movie. Gupta's report made Moore furious, leading to a contentious segment with Blitzer and a debate with Gupta on ``Larry King Live'' later in the week.

Gupta addressed several statistics in ``Sicko'' before concluding: ``No matter how much Moore fudged the facts _ and he did fudge some facts _ there is one thing everyone can agree on: the (health care) system here should be far better.''

In Gupta's report, CNN had said that Moore had reported that Cuba spends $25 per person for health care. In fact, the movie estimates Cuba's spending at $251 per person. CNN blamed a transcription error for its mistake and apologized for it on and off the air.

The network accuses Moore of ``cherry-picking'' numbers from different academic studies to make his arguments stronger. CNN said it believes in essentially comparing apples with apples. Moore said he tried to use the most recent data available.

Moore was also angry that Gupta interviewed Paul Keckley, who works for the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, as a critic of ``Sicko.'' Moore said Deloitte's chairman is Tommy Thompson, President Bush's former health and human services secretary, and that Keckley had made political contributions to Republican candidates and organizations.

The second mistake came not in Gupta's original report _ where Keckley was correctly identified as representing Deloitte _ but in an on-air debate where Gupta claimed Keckley was working for Vanderbilt University.

``His only affiliation is with Vanderbilt University,'' Gupta said. ``We checked it, Michael. We checked his conflict of interest. We do ask those questions.''

While CNN noted Moore was correct in pointing out Keckley had left Vanderbilt last year, it said Keckley's comments were factual and descriptive. Deloitte says it does not have a political agenda.

In other instances, CNN said Moore appeared to be creating a fight where none really existed. The network said it was comfortable letting viewers judge for themselves.

Moore said he believed it was important for him to let people know his side. ``In the report they say that I fudged the facts,'' he said, ``and they didn't find a single fact that I fudged.''