NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL AN EXPERT

In its "The Experts" feature, the now NewsCorp-owned Wall Street Journal collects the best and brightest minds in the public sphere to provide insight on the most important issues of the day. Which means that it featured, naturally, an anti-Obamacare rant from Suzanne Somers. You may know Suzanne Somers as that woman who was briefly famous like thirty years ago for making her tits bounce around behind John Ritter on Three's Company. Oh, and she has spent the last decade hawking an increasingly bullshit-laced string of "Holistic" alternatives to the evils of medicine. Did you know that mistletoe extract is more effective against cancer than chemotherapy? You didn't – because it isn't truebut Suzanne does.

I bring attention to Somers' column not because it is in any way useful, novel, or interesting – take the 60 seconds necessary to read it if you so choose – but because it manages the rather staggering feat of necessitating three corrections from the editor. Three, in a column that does not quite hit 600 words. She used two quotes and both of them are fake, a fact that five seconds of googling would have revealed. That the Journal made three corrections just hours after going to press with the story suggests that they had no intention of trying to slip one past their readers – it suggests that they simply didn't fact check it. The piece is so staggeringly wrong on so many levels (Retirees? They're on Medicare. Does Suzanne know that Medicare is a separate program?) that it's possible no one even read it let alone checked it.

"The Experts" indeed. You would think that a column from Suzanne Somers, Washed Up Actress and well-known Alternative Medicine Quack, would cry out for greater attention than usual from the fact checkers. Yet this scarcely seems to have been read. Why she is an "Expert" is an equally valid question, with Jonathan Chait suggesting that, "whatever she lacks in traditional analytic skills, she more than makes up for with a strong love of freedom. If your newspaper is going to publish a weekly column by Karl Rove, you have already crossed whatever conceptual boundary might stop you from publishing Suzanne Somers." Someone call the burn unit.

Look, I understand that modern journalism is an absolute disaster and there is no pretense of shame anymore, only the quest for hits, viewers, and advertising. What baffles me is that the WSJ could have run a hack anti-Obamacare column from any one of ten thousand writers, and this is the one they chose? They might as well start trolling the mommyblogger forums for some anti-vaccination experts if this is what they're going to print. The ideological hatchet job is something we expect; at least have the goddamn decency to find a writer who can produce something roughly similar actual journalism and who can be bothered to google the quotes they plucked from Uncle Larry's forwarded email before publishing them in the second-highest circulating newspaper in the Greatest Country in the World.

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37 Responses to “NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL AN EXPERT”

  1. Daphne Says:

    That hit series was closer to 40 years ago. I remember it in real time.

  2. Arslan Says:

    "An earlier version of this post contained a quotation attributed to Lenin (“Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the socialist state”) that has been widely disputed."

    LOL I just saw the same quote attributed to Stalin. Lenin actually has a very famous REAL quote: "Socialism is Soviet power plus electrification." Doubt he would have decided that "socialized medicine" is basically the same.

  3. Elle Says:

    I'm mildly disturbed by Somers' revelation that Canada doesn't have separate medical schools and vet schools. Poor commie Canada.

  4. middle seaman Says:

    Why so much noise around Somers is unclear. Leave garbage to die. Who cares?

    Expert is the only word in the English that ought to be spelled with ? (question mark). Almost all the experts? pontificating on Obamacare. gov were talking nonsense.

  5. Arslan Says:

    Just you wait; the next "expert" will be Patrick Duffy.

    ^ONLY 90'S KIDS WILL REMEMBER THAT!! LOL!!! OMG I HOPE CHUCK NORRIS WILL SAVE OUR CATS FROM THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!!!

  6. RosiesDad Says:

    "All of my husband's cousins are doctors."

    I wonder how many "all of them" there really are. And if they are real doctors or just play doctors on TV.

    She is an idiot. And the WSJ certainly burnished its image by publishing her.

    Meh.

  7. c u n d gulag Says:

    Well, in all fairness to her, it's not like ANY of the WSJ's Op-ed writers have a fucking clue about what the fuck they opine about.

    It's all fear, all anger, all hatred, all sky-is-green and the grass-is-blue, now run-of-the mill Conservative paranoia.
    On the 2nd most expensive piece of newspaper real estate in the world.

    And Paul Gigot makes Fred Hiatt look like Joseph Pulitzer.

  8. Benny Lava Says:

    Maybe this is how the WSJ and conservatives shift on Obamacare? I mean if it is successful they will look like idiots for opposing this. And they know this. So this is the pivot. After all, Neitzsche said "The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments."

  9. Anonymouse Says:

    The other night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart showed a clip of rightwing talking heads from the WSJ making fun of The New York Times (not the Post, which is a joke, but the Times).

  10. JohnR Says:

    Benny Lava, I think you're overthinking this, although I could be wrong. This fits exactly into the pattern which the WSJ*, and indeed Murdoch papers in general, followed consistently. In a world where third-rate minor actors and actresses appear in the media savagely attacking reason and Obamacare, why not Suzanne Summers? I suspect the real answer to that question is less "It's a sign of a coming policy shift" and more "It's getting hard to find any name recognizable to the target audience who hasn't already been discredited and mocked".

  11. dybevick Says:

    Look for a Victoria Jackson video on the same subject next week.

  12. Xynzee Says:

    Does this mean Loni Anderson or Victoria Principle will reemerge soon??

    Is this the WSJ's answer to that other fine Murdoch paper's "Page 3 Girl"?

    And people wondered why there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth when Rupe bought the WSJ. It would appear that nothing is sacred and this proves it.

  13. Anubis Bard Says:

    You're not paying attention to the long game here. At one point, conservatives were willing to use government to accomplish policies. When they'd achieved as much as they could, and were facing the possibility that progressives could start rolling things back, they focused on both discrediting the very idea of government and systematically making government less and less effective. They have every intention of turning representative democracy to rubble before they are escorted from the scene. Let the poors and the tree huggers see what they can do with that.

    It occurs to me that they are now doing the same thing to the public discourse. They've accomplished what they can with the mass media – and now that people start to wrinkle their brows and notice that conservative "ideology" is mostly nonsense and self-serving hypocrisy, the conservatives are going to leave the institutions of public discourse in utter discredited ruin before anyone can up and change the conversation. Having the thigh mistress laughed off the editorial page of the WSJ accomplishes nothing except to ensure that people won't be getting or believing in facts or reasoned argument any time soon – and that suits the grifters just fine.

  14. Xynzee Says:

    This one from "Churchill"(??) takes the cake for quotes: "Control your citizens’ health care and you control your citizens“.

    Though not being a great scholar on Churchill myself, I would have thought that ideologically he would have been opposed to the ACA if he were alive today. But I'm happy to be corrected.

    I also noticed that it appears that all of her husband's relos are so grasping and money hungry that they couldn't see a family member in an "emergency". BTW, where does she live? Somewhere in the tundra of the Northwest Territories that only has an itinerate doc? Besides, why didn't she contact Dr. Susie who could treat her condition with hippo sweat. Or isn't Dr. Susie giving it away for free to family as well?

  15. John Doheny Says:

    It's not just the quotes that are fabricated, but the entire column.

    "My 75-year-old Canadian girlfriend was denied treatment because she was too old. She died recently, having been given palliative care. That’s all the system would allow."

    As we like to say on internet discussion boards, "cite please, or STFU." I can pretty much guarantee this never happened because (a) if it did, it would have been a front-page, hair-on-fire scandal in the Canadian press because, you see, unlike in America, where the death of 45,000 uninsured citizens a year goes largely unremarked upon, Canadians get really bent out of shape when there's a glitch in the system. They're proud of their health care system. and feel it's one of the things that makes them morally superior to Americans. They can actually be rather insuffable about this.

    (b) It flies in the face of my own, lived experience. My 77 year old father died in a Canadian hospital in 2005. He received excellent (not just "palliative") care to the very end, at no cost whatsoever. Really, fuck you, Susanne Sommers.

    "All of my husband’s cousins are doctors. Several have moved to the U.S. because after their years of intensive schooling"

    They probably ran into my last Canadian GP, Jonathan Kline (unlike Sommers "cousins," my doc has an actual name) who abandoned his Seattle practise to move back to Canada in the late 80s. Seems he was fed up with endless paperwork and bureaucracy, and spending 40 hours of his 80 hour weeks arguing with insurance companies over whether the treatments he prescribed were "medically necessary."

    "My sister-in-law had to wait two months to get a General Practitioner."

    Suspicious wording here. Does "get" mean "find," as in "I was searching for a GP who met my needs"? Admittedly wait times from province to province vary, particularly for specialists, but when I left Canada in 2003 I could usually get an appointment with my GP within a day or two, sometimes the same day. Specialists did take longer, but they take longer here too. Provided you have "good insurance" and can afford them.

    "A Canadian animal can have timely MRIs, surgeries and any number of tests it needs to receive quality health care."

    Indeed they can. Back when I had "good" insurance through United Health Care, I did a comparison with a Canadian friend with the pet insurance she had for her dog. "Coverage" was roughly comparable, with similar co-pays, deductables, and caps on treatment. Her own (Canadian) health coverage had none of these things, and in fact covered all doctor visits and hospital procedures at no extra cost, for a $54 monthly premium.

    I could go on, but what's the point. Her "logic" is nonexistant, and the degree of "misinformation" about the Canadian health care system well over the line into slander. And that bit about the "two week" wait to see a specialist? I realize she's a rich celebrity who doesn't have to wait in line for anything, but the last time I made an appointment with a specialist here in New Orleans (with my "good" insurance) the wait was three MONTHS.

    I've taken some heat on this board for my criticism of the ACA, and I stand by that. It is beyond pathetic that after all this time, the best we can do apparantly is some regulatory tweaking of private insurance regs coupled with a massive welfare scheme for private business that still leaves millions without access to healthcare. But a big reason that the obvious solutions (solutions that are SHOWN TO WORK, and at LESS COST in other countries) are "politically impossible" is because bullshit like this goes unrefuted.

  16. Mark Says:

    The frightening thing is the comments. Wow.

  17. John Doheny Says:

    @Xynzee,

    "Though not being a great scholar on Churchill myself, I would have thought that ideologically he would have been opposed to the ACA if he were alive today. But I'm happy to be corrected."

    Then you'll be absolutely delighted when I point out that Churchill was one of the primary architects of the postwar Nation Health Service in Britain.

    One of the most startling things about examining actual history (as opposed to the fantasy past conjured by the neocons and tea-tards) is that it shows clearly how far into cloud coo coo land modern conservatism has travelled. Obama a "socialist"? Idelogically, he's to the right of both Churchill AND Margaret Thatcher, another supporter of "socialized medicine." Not necessarily on ideological grounds, mind you, but because the NHS is a very popular program. And why wouldn't it be? It delivers better healthcare than the UNited States, at cheaper cost, and at no cost at all to the patient at point of delivery. And anyone who wishes to can enroll, unless of course they opt into Britain's paralell PRIVATE iinsurance and hospital system. (That last BTW, is the part conservatives always leave out of their "death panel" discussions).

    http://www.salon.com/2009/08/14/healthcare_28/

    "Churchill was renowned as a politician who put country and civilization above party. The government he led during World War II was a broad coalition of the British parties, from his own Conservatives to the democratic socialists of Labor. Midway through the war, Churchill’s government asked Sir William Beveridge, a Liberal Party social reformer and economist to study systems of social insurance that could reduce poverty, disease, unemployment and illiteracy in Britain.

    In 1942, Beveridge issued an far-reaching report that proposed a national health service to provide medical care to every man, woman and child, regardless of means — much as the coalition government had done during the medical emergency brought on by the German bombings of their cities, hospitals and clinics.

    Although Churchill endorsed the idea of a national health system, his party lost the first post-war general election in 1945, partly because British voters didn’t trust the Tories to implement the Beveridge report. Instead a Labor government established universal care under the NHS in 1948"

  18. Xynzee Says:

    @Doheney: great take down. Especially the last para.

    So do these pets get their medical care as part of National Health or because the owners are fronting up buckets of cash for direct care or for pet medical insurance? If someone's willing to spend big on a pet, there's someone who'll gladly separate the mark from their cash.

    Same with Aus, if you're really loaded, you still don't have to wait. You can still see your super specialist when you want and even keep them on retainer if you choose.

    That said, Kerry Packer who at the time was the richest Australian was a frequent guest at St. Vincent hospital. This public hospital due to location specialised in resuscitating heroine ODs from Kings Cross and party drug ODs from Oxford St. Suck on that Susie.

    Pity that Canada is under the Harper regime. It would be cool to see Canada sue the WSJ and Susie for libel.

  19. Xynzee Says:

    @Doheny: thank you very much. Now I know. It's one thing to die in ignorance, but to live a life of willful ignorance is inexcusable.

  20. J. Dryden Says:

    Sorry I'm coming late to the discussion, but I was returning to consciousness after my head hit the table upon reading this.

    Look: I think Aussie Bard is calling this one correctly. In America, Celebrity is Authority. (The best example of this in recent years is Jenny McCarthy's deranged-but-highly-paid-attention-to-because-hey-I-know-who-she-is campaign against vaccination.)

    Americans don't like experts. Even the ones who say the things they agree with. We hold education in disdain, and tend to be suspicious of those who show they don't by having fancy degrees and talking all smart-like. We like celebrities. Folks who talk like us–using rudimentary vocabulary, short sentences, and simplistic analogies.

    We like Ronald Reagan, in short. We idolize him because he told us that our ignorant bigotry was the truth, and spoke to us in a way that made us feel as if we weren't fucking morons, despite the fact that he and we were indeed fucking morons. So, fuck it, in a country that considers Reagan "one of our greatest political minds," why not accept the word of a 70s/80s sitcom actress on subsidized medicine? If she says what we want to hear, who cares about qualifications–the message justifies the messenger.

  21. Da Moose Says:

    The WSJ caters to an old white male audience who hate their ugly menopausal wives. Of course, they are going to run a piece by big tits mcgee. BTW, what offends me about her piece is the whiny boomer BS I constantly hear. Let's be honest, boomers are the Parasite Generation: "My parents sacrificed so I could have a better life and my kids will do the same." Who gives a rat's ass about their retiring needs? When I'm their age, I'll be living in a box behind my parents' house. Phuck her and phuck boomers.

  22. John Doheny Says:

    @Xynzee,

    "So do these pets get their medical care as part of National Health"

    The fact that "pet insurance" in Canada functions pretty much the same as private insurance in the United States should be the tip-off. I don't know much about health coverage in Australia, but in the two G8 countries I've lived in (besides the United States) "health coverage" simply means your health care costs are covered, period. Complex systems of "deductables," "co-pays," hidden "gotcha" clauses, caps on treatments, and the myriad other ways private insurance here extracts more money in addition to their already absurdley high premiums (my monthly UHC premium was $460, for 'coverage" that was laughable by any standard but an American one) were completely unknown to me when I moved here ten years ago. It was a very steep learning curve, not to mention a rude awakening.

    This is the reason I have a tough time getting excited about the ACA. Yes I know that it's an improvement over the status quo and that the elimination of recissioning and pre-existing conditions is great. But the very fact that those things existed in the first place is appalling, man. I remember being absolutely horrified to find that these were apparently an acceptable feature of the health care system I had just delivered myself up to by moving here. And the ACA still leaves millions uninsured, and millions more vulnerable to bankruptcy with their crap "insurance" that they are no obligated to buy. And then there's the business with the medicaid expansion, which states with nutsoid governors can "opt out" of. I live in one of them. Which means, as a jazz musician of modest means, I'm not poor enough for medicaid, but make "too much" money for subsidies. It's going to be a very real financial hardship for me to shell out for crap "insurance" that will still leave me vulnerable to bankruptcy in the event of serious illness.

    This is just so sad and pathetic. The supposed Greatest Nation on Earth, and we can't even pull off something a piss-pot, middle power country like Canada did, over 50 years ago. Universal, affordable, no-strings health coverage.

  23. Southern Beale Says:

    It's because the right-wing-o-sphere is so very desperate for some cultural relevance that they have to find some Hollywood figure — ANY Hollywood figure — to repeat their crackpot views. So far they have Victoria Jackson, Ted Nugent, Clint Eastwood and his Empty Chair, Arnold Schwarzenegger and …. ta da! Crissy from Three's Company.

    As much as they claim to disparage "Hollywood liberals" they really crave that pop culture cred.

  24. Da Moose Says:

    If you are poor and sick, you must have angered God in some way so you deserve to die penniless and unassisted. That said, let's go to church so that we can be good christians. Oh, and don't forget to turn off the joystick after bombing darkies from 30,000 feet in some nation you'll never visit because it's just the right darn thing to do. I love Christ.

  25. Anonymouse Says:

    @Southern Beale: don't forget Ronnie Reagan, the ultimate empty suit, but boy he sure was pretty, wasn't he?

  26. mothra Says:

    Mr. Doheny, I don't know who was giving you static about your views on the ACA, but you won't get any from me. You state the truth, man.

    The zombie lies about Canadian health care (any single payer health care, for that matter) run very, very deep. I have had educated, progressive friends and even family members ask me about healthcare in Canada (they all knew I have a Canadian friend). They believed the nonsense lies the right wing is pushing–sort of–had a suspicion they weren't true, but weren't certain. I sure as hell wish there were some kind of progressive group that would push the truth as aggressively.

  27. Southern Beale Says:

    "he zombie lies about Canadian health care (any single payer health care, for that matter) run very, very deep."

    Yeah I always have a lot of fun talking to doctors about this stuff. My own ob/gyn (you can read about it here: http://southernbeale.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/guess-who-went-to-the-doctor-today/) and then my super fun trip to the ER a couple years ago, where the idiot doctor blamed Natasha Richardson's death on Canadian healthcare (you can read about it here if you're so inclined: http://southernbeale.wordpress.com/2009/08/29/bump-on-the-head-a-political-lesson/)

    I had no idea that doctors were all idiot wingnuts. Well, except for the doctors who deal with the poor. They don't tend to be assholes.

  28. Edward Says:

    Maybe the WSJ secretly supports Obamacare, which is essentially a Republican plan, and wants to discredit the critics while not alienating Republicans. The insurance industry must be pleased with Somer's column.

  29. John Doheny Says:

    @Southern Beale,

    You're visit to the gyno sounds fascinating. /sarcasm.

    Next time you're in there listening to her anecdotal evidence about "friend's" experiences with Canuckistanian healthcare, give her the benefit of MY experience as a guy born and raised in Seattle, who lived for 30 years in Vancouver and Toronto.

    "“Oh no,” my doctor responded, wagging her finger at me. “I know someone who lives in Vancouver and when she needed something done she went to Seattle.”"

    Well they must have serious bucks to throw around then since, as a Canadian resident, they would have no US insurance.

    "Oh, no! That’s worse,” she said. In England, she said, whether you have a hangnail or cancer, you’re put into the system at the same place."

    Even if this were true (which it absolutely is NOT) this sad state of affairs could be avoided in exactly the same way it's avoided in the US, by buying private insurance. Yes, thats right, Britain has a paralell, private insurance and hospital system. Those people dying on teh Death Panels have only themselves to blame lol.

    "Yes, Republicans. Do tell me more about bureaucrats coming between me and my doctor. I’m dying to hear."

    Yeah this one always cracks me up. I'm sure there's bureaucracy involved somewhere in Canadian healthcare, but in 30 years of living there, I never saw it. I just went to the doctor/hospital, waved my MSP card, and they did their thing.

    "It was the most disheartening conversation I’ve ever had. Apparently the doctors just can’t be bothered."

    Not necessarily. I don't have time to hunt up the link right now but apparently, back in the steering-committe stage of the ACA, a bunch of doctors and nurses asked to speak in favor of single payer. Committee chair Max Baucus told them they weren't on the schedule. They persisted, so he had security throw them out.

    2008 was when I knew, once and for all, that the US is NOT a functioning democracy.

  30. Bitter Scribe Says:

    She's just mad that Obamacare won't cover her next plastic surgery.

  31. qmmayer Says:

    I'm waiting for the Suzanne Sommers / Victoria Jackson power hour on Fox.

  32. Elly Says:

    I have a good buddy in Ontario who's a cancer survivor, so of course I sent him a link to this article.

    His initial response was NSFW. Suffice it to say, he has even less respect for Somers than he did before (which wasn't much to begin with).

    He also sent me two links that further illustrate the wingnut take on Canadian healthcare. The first is from the Guardian, and describes a recent incident where actor John Malkovich saves an elderly man's life in Toronto: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/jun/10/john-malkovich-saves-life

    The Guardian article contains this quote:

    "Ben Quinn, a Toronto native who stopped to help, said Malkovich had a good command of the situation. "'The guy really seemed to know what he was doing," he said. "We didn't know who he was. I just asked if I could hold the man's head and he said yes.'

    "He told the man don't worry, the Canadian medical system is excellent," said Quinn. 'He assured the man everything was going to be first class.'"

    He also sent a link to a Fox News article describing the same incident: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2013/06/09/john-malkovich-helps-save-man-life-in-role-as-real-life-hero/. This is Fox's version of Ben Quinn's quote:

    "'The guy really seemed to know what he was doing,” added Ben Quinn, a passer-by who reportedly assisted in the Malkovich-provided triage. “We didn’t know who he was. I just asked if I could hold the man’s head and he said, ‘Yes’.”

    Then — and just as the paramedics arrived — Walpole reportedly looked up at his silver-screen savior and said, 'What’s your name?'"

    Not a word about Malkovich's description of the "excellent" Canadian health care system, natch.

  33. deke Says:

    Hey, uh, love this blog, but why's it called "Gin and Tacos" but the Russian text in the background reads "Gin and varenyky," the latter word being what non-Pole slavs call pierogis? Why not call it "Gin and Pierogies?"

    Uhhhh…. thanks.

  34. Bitter Scribe Says:

    deke: I can't speak for Ed, but I think tacos make for better visuals.

  35. Nate Says:

    @Arslan News Corp is taking that suggestion step-by-step. :)

  36. Tosh Says:

    Kinda like "Death Panel Betsy" on "TheView" promoted as a health care "expert(?)"
    Meanwhile, I wouldn't wrap a fish in the WSJ, more so due the News Corpse tutelage.
    May it go the way of MySpace. .

  37. Surly Duff Says:

    I think the purpose of news has shifted from "material source of information to educate myself and elucidate meaning" to "source of opinion that validates my preconceived notions". That is why the Karl Roves and Suzanne Sommers and Chuck Norris are given column space in newspapers.