The Importance of Whistleblowers

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In the New York Daily News, columnist Stanley Crouch stresses the significance of health insurance p.r. executive Wendell Potter’s defection to the health care reform movement. Potter is now working with the Center for Media and Democracy to counter industry propaganda and reveal the internal workings of the business. Whistleblowers are indispensable in the battle to learn the truth about powerful institutions.

Everyone is familiar with the street adage that one should not take a knife to a gunfight. . . . The best ammunition is at least one highly placed whistleblower. . . . In America, there are often those who seem sent here for the purpose of exposing what we need to know. When such people are found and used strategically, big things take the fall. The best ammunition for the elephant gun I have seen so far is Wendell Potter, who spent 20 years working up in the command towers for the health industry. While an executive employee of two health care behemoths, Cigna and Humana, Potter learned well how to bean-ball the truth whenever it came to the plate. . . . Potter could be to the health industry what scientist Victor J. DeNoble was to the tobacco industry when his time came. In 1994, DeNoble testified that Philip Morris had hired him to do research on the dangerous effects of nicotine, then suppressed what he found out when the results proved cigarettes to be harmful.

What is remarkable is how few people are willing to leave the comfort and security of jobs that discomfit them morally. We need many more whistleblowers—and not just in health care. We need truth-tellers to come forward from the military contracting industry, from the banks and Wall Street houses, and on and on. If you are a potential whistleblower about improprieties, inequities, injustices, we at WhoWhatWhy would love to hear from you.

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