An employee who works at Capital BlueCross has sent us a confidential memo written and circulated by its Vice President of Corporate Communications, Barclay Fitzpatrick. His job, it seems, was to go and watch 'Sicko,' observe the audience's reaction, and then suggest a plan of action for how to deal with the movie.
The memo, which I am releasing publicly in this email, is a fascinating look at how one health care company views 'Sicko' -- and what it fears its larger impact will be on the public. The industry's only hope, the memo seems to indicate, is if the movie 'flops.'
Mr. Fitzpatrick writes: 'In typical Moore fashion, Government and business leaders are behind a conspiracy to keep the little guy down and dominated while getting rich.'
No. You don't say! That can't be!
BlueCross V.P. Fitzpatrick seems downright depressed about the movie he just saw. 'You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie,' he writes. 'Sicko' leaves audiences feeling 'ashamed to be...a capitalist, and part of a 'me' society instead of a 'we' society.'
He walks out of the theater only to witness an unusual sight: people -- strangers -- mingling and talking to each other. "'I didn't know they (the insurers) did that!' was a common exclamation followed by a discussion of the example," according to Fitzpatrick.
He then assesses the film's impact: "[T]he impact on small business decision makers, our members, the community, and our employees could be significant. Ignoring its impact might be a successful strategy only if it flops, but that has not been the history of Moore's films ... If popular, the movie will have a negative impact on our image in this community."
The BlueCross memo then suggests a strategy in dealing with "Sicko" and offers the BCBS "talking points" to be used in discounting the film.
As regular readers will know, I'm a huge fan of SiCKO (recognizing it as what it is and is (mostly) meant to be, and not mistaking it for a dispassionate documentary mired in detail and obligatory, "on the other hands...").
Those threatened by the movie's central truths are well into their counterattacks, and Moore is pushing back. It can be tricky when Moore is put into the position of a "talking head" expert suitable for the NewsHour, which IMHO does not suit his particular gifts (indeed, genius). But when the opposition mounts its own polemics and irrelevancies (since they have very little large substantive truth to fall back on--our existing system is both terminally ill and grossly immoral), so that Moore can mount a counter-offensive, he can be quite effective. This is one example; there will be more.
The insurance executive's letter is, needless to say, worth reading in full on Moore's website.