• Deadly Spin

  • An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans
  • By: Wendell Potter
  • Narrated by: Patrick Lawlor
  • Length: 9 hrs and 17 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (165 ratings)

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Deadly Spin

By: Wendell Potter
Narrated by: Patrick Lawlor
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Publisher's Summary

"My name is Wendell Potter, and for 20 years I worked as a senior executive at health insurance companies. I saw how they confuse their customers and dump the sick---all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors." ---Senate testimony, June 24, 2009

Wendell Potter is the insurance industry's worst nightmare. In June 2009, Wendell Potter made national headlines with his scorching testimony before the Senate panel on health care reform. This former senior vice president of CIGNA explained how health insurers make promises they have no intention of keeping, how they flout regulations designed to protect consumers, and how they skew political debate with multibillion-dollar public relations campaigns designed to spread disinformation. Potter had walked away from a six-figure salary and two decades as an insurance executive because he could no longer abide the routine practices of an industry where the needs of sick and suffering Americans take a backseat to the bottom line. The last straw: when he visited a rural health clinic and saw hundreds of people standing in line in the rain to receive treatment in stalls built for livestock.

In Deadly Spin, Potter takes listeners behind the scenes to show how a huge chunk of our absurd health care spending actually bankrolls a propaganda campaign and lobbying effort focused on protecting one thing: profits. Whatever the fate of the current health care legislation, it makes no attempt to change that fundamental problem. Potter shows how relentless PR assaults play an insidious role in our political process anywhere that corporate profits are at stake---from climate change to defense policy. Deadly Spin tells us why---and how---we must fight back.

©2010 Wendell Potter Consulting, LLC (P)2010 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"The ideal whistleblower...his testimony [is] logical, specific, and convincing." ( Time)

What listeners say about Deadly Spin

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Must Read

This is a book that every American should read. Well written and compelling message about the nature of corporate America, the mass media and political action.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

This book is basically a self-glorifying autobiogr

This book is basically a self-glorifying autobiography. Nothing earth-shattering here, no answers, and no solutions.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This book is eye opening

Written by the man who used to be head of Public Relations at Cigna, one of the largest health insurers in the world, Potter gives readers a detailed, behind the scenes look at pretty much every duplicitous PR campaign over the last 50 years undertaken by the health insurance lobby to derail and delay meaningful health reform in this country. Potter holds nothing back, and really paints a vivid picture of just how unethical these companies are in their pursuit of profit to please their masters on Wall Street and Wall Street's inexorable earnings expectations.

Obamacare did not fix the health care crisis in this country, and it's thanks to effective PR spin campaigns (run by people like Potter) that the health care reform bill Obama signed into law was less effective than it could have been. This battle will have to be fought again. Until then, premiums will continue to sky rocket and people will continue to die when they get sick and their health care insurer refuses to pay for the treatment to make them better. Potter explains the entire story in a coherent, easy to read manner, and is truly fascinating with the statistics he presents. You won't be able to put the book down (or in this case -- stop listening).

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent read! Everyone should hear this one!

Would you consider the audio edition of Deadly Spin to be better than the print version?

I haven't read the print version yet, but the audio was excellent. I did order the print version because there is so much information in it that I want to remember and share with others.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Deadly Spin?

When he quit his job and became a whistle blower.

Have you listened to any of Patrick Lawlor’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, I have heard Patrick's performance in Three Cups of Tea. This was a much different story, but his performance was great.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

BEWARE of the Spin!

Any additional comments?

We are not naive and all know that we are being manipulated, but do we know just how much? I was amazed to hear to what extent we are manipulated.

1 person found this helpful

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Getting prepared

This book is a must read, (listen) for everyone in the medical profession, and everyone that interacts with the medical profession. Don't bring a spoon to a gun fight, get prepared

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Amazing. Must read

Required reading for anyone that wishes to help lessen suffering. I commend Mr Potter for writing this book and changing his stance.

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Healthcare Exec turned Whistleblower

Potter went from being journalist to working for Humana and then took a top PR executive role at Cigna. He quit the Managed Care side of healthcare for 3 main reasons 1) The Movie Sicko 2) Attending a HealthCare Fair in/near his Hometown (Drs. Without Borders came to his own small hometown in the U.S.A providing Free Care like they do in 3rd world countries and they were overflowing) and 3) Having been Cigna’s PR guy during an emerging “horror-story” where Cigna denied a girl a liver transplant from a perfect donor match. He strove to make it better (and make Cigna look good) by overturning Cigna’s denial. However she died. His employer’s negligence caused the death of a young girl near his own daughter’s age. He knew Cigna would be unable to be held liable for their actions and decisions in the girls death when they got sued because of ERISA (a Federal Law).
Potter tells his story of an exciting career where he’s a success. However it’s one he comes to see as one might see whaling, or being involved in trading ivory elephant tusks. As importantly he knows how “the spin” works, I.e. how killing whales/elephants for their tusks is someone’s business. Businesses have shareholders who will buy or sell shares depending on if a business meets its projected goals. The top executives are salaried but paid in their companies stock options. So, “don’t take it personally, it’s just business.”
It’s a very good book. Basically, the Michael Moore movie “Sicko,” is 100% accurate, as explained by an insurance exec whose job it was to discredit that movie.

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    5 out of 5 stars

this should be required reading.

Though it's a little dated now, what's contained in this book is crucial for Americans understanding of how our health care system works (or rather, doesn't work). He also explains the PR industry and how it impacts our consumption of news. He gets a little bit in the weeds on the political and legislative battles over healthcare which went over my head. But otherwise super interesting, very illuminating. highly recommend.

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  • 02-26-19

A Must read

If you think you know about healthcare, Public relations and the fate of journalism, think again. Thought provoking book about big corporations running our country and our democracy in peril from big business lobbyists, greed, misinformation campaigns and lack of proper education to vet the truth from fiction.

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Boring but VERY Informative

What did you love best about Deadly Spin?

The information, and that it came from an insider.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Deadly Spin?

Not only talking about the Health industry but touches on some other aspects of Spinning the Truth, such as global warming & lobbying groups.

Have you listened to any of Patrick Lawlor’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but nice voice. I like when he tried to put appropriate accents to some of the specified referenced people, such as Rupert Murdoch.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Just left me dumbfounded. I realized Spinning (lying) is involved in media, but am just so disillusioned that it is used to the extent that it probably is, as Mr. Potter shared.

It's a shame that it took a young woman dying to shake up Mr. Potter's world to become a whistle blower, but being in a similar circumstance myself, needing to work after being laid off and then, subsequently, getting sick (a stroke) and doing what I have to do to pay the bills, I can understand why. I don't agree with the ethics of it all, but I can understand. Thank God, he saw the light.

Any additional comments?

Thank you, Mr. Potter for making that leap (of faith).