News Articles By Lisa Graves

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And, Now for Something French (Wendell Takes on "The World")

Wendell Potter is featured in this week's Le Monde for his work on behalf of the Center for Media and Democracy. It's in French, of course, and in the article he talks about the influence of the insurance industry lobbyists on elected politicians and candidates. I'd translate it for you, but even as a former tutor in French the verb tenses still elude me. However, for those of you who are fluent in the language of love, here is the feature:

Genentech's Ghostwriting Animates Congressional Speeches on Health Reform

In Sunday's New York Times, Robert Pear reports that biotech industry lobbyists were especially successful in getting their spin mouthed by House Members during the health care reform debate. He notes:

Statements by more than a dozen lawmakers were ghostwritten, in whole or in part, by Washington lobbyists working for Genentech, one of the world's largest biotechnology companies. E-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that the lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans. The lobbyists, employed by Genentech and by two Washington law firms, were remarkably successful in getting the statements printed in the Congressional Record under the names of different members of Congress.

Wendell Headlines Triple Bottom Line Conference

The Center for Media Democracy's Wendell Potter was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Triple Bottom Line Investment (TBLI) conference in Amsterdam this past week. This year's TBLI conference focused on worldwide "health insurance and related human rights issues, the Credit Crunch and its effects on investment ethics values and investment, and the Copenhagen Climate Council and its consequences for investment portfolios," according to their statement about the event.

House Passes Health Reforms--"The Good Joe," Rep. Joseph Cao, Not Cowed

On November 7, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed landmark health care reform legislation after months of negotiations and despite some really outrageous lies by opponents of any efforts to redress corporate malfeasance. Only a single Republican, Congressman Joseph Cao of New Orleans, "the Good Joe," was willing to defy his party's command and vote for the bill, along with 219 Democrats, giving the bill two votes more than it needed to pass. Upon the historic vote, the Good Joe said: "I read the versions of the House health reform bill. I listened to the countless stories of Orleans and Jefferson Parish citizens whose health care costs are exploding – if they are able to obtain health care at all. Louisianans need real options for primary care, for mental health care, and for expanded health care for seniors and children."

Help Us Bust the Banksters; Join Our New Campaign

This week, the Center for Media and Democracy is launching its new campaign on the "Banksters" with a new companion website,, and a new portal in our online encyclopedia called the "Real Economy Project." We are so fortunate that Mary Bottari brought this much needed effort to demystify economic issues and spur people to take action to CMD, with the support of our founder, John Stauber, and our Board.

Blue darts on red targetI see this project as the beginning of a new phase in CMD's life of weighing in on crucial issues in the media and before Congress and trying to make a real difference in outcomes. In many ways, this new effort is a return to our roots and builds on CMD's long-standing mission to "inform and assist grassroots citizen activism that . . . promotes economic justice." At the same time, this effort really takes the gloves off in aiming at both the spin and the underlying policies that have undermined the promise of the American dream.

Fewer Bank Lobbyists but More Money, Influence

Politico is reporting that the financial services industry has lost about 600 registered lobbyists this year with the economic meltdown. But, the amount of money being spent on financial services lobbying is actually up from last year. So in general, the remaining bank lobbyists are actually making more money now, despite the crashed economy!

In 2008, before the bank failures, less money was being spent lobbying Congress but, astonishingly, this year after taxpayer funds were used to bailout the banks they are spending more money lobbying the federal government. Here is a clip from Politico's report:

Tough Talk from Wendell

Listen to the great journalist Greg Palast interview the Center for Media and Democracy's Wendell Potter about the way local insurance monopolies thwart reform. In the interview, Wendell considers whether Senator Olympia Snowe's support for reforms without a public option is naive or disingenuous. This past week, Wendell was on C-Span, MSNBC, the BBC, and MSNBC again, among other news shows. Below is the audio from his full interview on BBC:

"Love IS Worth Fighting For" -- Lt. Dan Choi

"Love is worth fighting for." That's how Lt. Dan Choi ended his remarks this weekend about his journey from West Point to Iraq to discharge under the continuing Pentagon policy of "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT). It really made me think about this deeply flawed policy I have opposed privately over the years. Because, as Lt. Choi distilled it so well, love is worth fighting for.

He is one of only eight people in his graduating class at West Point who majored in Arabic, and so his story also brought home to me the gap between the rhetoric about the "global war on terror" (GWOT) and the reality, in a particular way. Since I left the government over four years ago, I have been speaking out about misplaced priorities involving terrorism, civil liberties, and human rights.