When over 2,500 doctors come forward, urging John McCain to provide full public disclosure of his medical records, it warrants national discussion. McCain severely limited access to his medical records back in May (20 reporters had only 3 hours to review 1,173 pages without any cameras, cell phones, or photocopying), giving rise to serious doubts about his already questionable health history. His secrecy and evasiveness were eerily reminiscent of the egregious dishonesty and manipulation of information we've seen from the Bush administration for the past eight years.
That's why Brave New PAC followed up on Brave New Films' initial video about McCain's health records by creating its own ad featuring two of the 2,500 doctors; they wanted to alert the public to the concerns of these medical experts and stress the importance of this issue. But so far, the possibility of having a frank discussion about McCain's health records has been hampered by attacks from the right and corporate media censorship.
Soon after Brave New PAC and Democracy for America launched their ad, the right countered by unleashing attack hounds like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. These are two of the most contemptible, bloviating shock jocks on the air. They have attacked Barack Obama with lies and hate and bigotry, not to mention the other liberals they have slandered in the past, and their smears have spread like a virus to other mainstream outlets, warping public opinion. And yet they have the gall to go after Brave New PAC and Democracy for America with a holier-than-thou attitude!
O'Reilly used the ad to continue his assault on NBC, and he also brought in Megyn Kelly to label the ad a "personal, vile attack on McCain." Kelly, of course, is an expert on personal attacks, considering she recently ran a segment on FOX that referred to Michelle Obama as "Obama's Baby Mama."
But while it's easy to dismiss the right's blatant hypocrisy, their cries actually resulted in MSNBC removing Brave New PAC's ad. There were concerns about the ad's content, particularly some of the more graphic images of McCain's scars from melanoma treatments--ironic considering those pictures came from CNN, which aired them many many times earlier this year. CNN refused to run the ad on similar grounds.
This is censorship at its most dangerous and disheartening. How can the public discuss this crucial issue when MSNBC won't run the Brave New PAC ad or bring the doctors who have signed the open letter on to express their concerns about McCain's health records? And how can MSNBC legitimize O'Reilly and Limbaugh's objections by refusing to air Brave New PAC's factual ad, but gladly pass along the right's distortions as they have in the past?
By pulling the ad, MSNBC comes across as more concerned with its own image to advertisers than having a substantive discussion of election-related issues. And both MSNBC and CNN's actions further reinforce the need for a healthy, vibrant blogosphere capable of shedding light on subjects the corporate press is unwilling to touch.
As Bob Ewegen wrote in an Op-Ed for the Denver Post, "The health of anyone running for the job we call 'leader of the free world' is very much the public's business." The public ought to have the full facts and be able to talk freely about a candidate's physical abilities to lead. What's more, the public has every right to cry foul when a candidate has clearly gone out of his way to keep us in the dark about his checkered health history, and the corporate press has attempted to keep any discussion about it under wraps.
What does McCain have to hide? And what do these networks stand to lose by having an honest, open conversation about McCain's health records? As Amy Poehler joked when she played Hillary Clinton on the premiere of Saturday Night Live, "I invite the media to grow a pair. And if you can't, I will lend you mine."