Big Pharma Doesn't Own the Media...

Opinion by Consumer Advocate Tim Bolen

September 8th, 2003


One of the questions I most often get asked is one version, or another, of the plea "How does a loser like Stephen Barrett, and his dubious website (, get quoted in the media, so often?"

That question is definitely on the minds of thinkers in the North American Health Freedom Movement. After all, it just doesn't make any sense for American media to offer the blatherings of a failed MD, operating out of his basement, as legitimate comment on the American health scene. 

The obvious thought, first to mind, is that "big pharma owns the media..."

Nope. That's not what's happening. The answer, is a little, but not a lot, more complicated.

Big media has become big business. Media used to be lot of little businesses - competing.  Nowadays, it's only a handful of big companies competing for the public's attention, and for advertising dollars. With "big business" comes big business thinking and procedures, which then leads to big business bureaucracy.

Journalists in today's big media don't generally command thrilling salaries. Hence they bounce from job to job, looking for a better opportunity. Editors do a little better - but not much. In addition, both Journalists and Editors are salaried, and subjected to very, very, very long hours for their pittance in paycheck. There is so-o-o-o-o much for each of them to do, with so-o-o-o-o many demands on their time (not including family) that deadlines pop up before they can re-sharpen their pencils.

So how do you fill up your newspaper, radio broadcast, magazine, or the nightly news with tantalizing stories to "get the public's attention?

Easy. You get the stories from "the Services," and from advertising clients, or their agencies. 

And, there's the rub...

Some History...

Many of you who know me personally, realize that I own a business in partnership with Jan, my wife of 38 years, called "JuriMed - Public Relations & Research Group." The business cards says "Strategies For Government Besieged Health Professionals." Our business, with clients world-wide these days, is a form of crisis management. We design, and implement the strategies and tactics necessary to turn a bad situation into a good one.

The newsletter "Millions of Health Freedom Fighters - Newsletter" is my avocation, my advocacy, my contribution to the North American Health Freedom Movement of which I'm proud to be a member. 

In the business of crisis management, I have to deal with the media on behalf of my clients. There's one media "Service" out there that pretends to be an independent news source. They're so biased in favor of big pharma that I have a standard recommended procedure when they call for an interview. I put the client's attorney in their face - immediately. We get the "Service" contact's name, street address, boss's name, etc., and make it clear that we will provide the real story, in detail, and if they deviate from it with a "hit piece" they're going to spend the next five years in Superior Court starting tomorrow - and so is their boss, their spouse, their mother, and their dog.

The 11:00 News is a Joke in America...

Notice the "Medical News" on the major television channels every night? Or does the ludicrousness of it all force your left brain to shut off, and allows your right brain to head you for the refrigerator (or the bathroom) when that segment comes on?  Every night there's another "miracle cure."  Every night there's another new drug to save the world.  How can anybody take Big Media seriously with this kind of preposterous reporting?

If there were reality to the picture Big Media is painting about current health care on the nightly TV News, we should all live to be 500 years old, cancer will be cured yesterday, and breast enlargements are good for your health (I'll pass on that one, thank you). The reality is VERY different - and Big Media is acting irresponsibly.

ALL of those "miracle cure" stories came from ad agencies that place advertising with those networks.  You can bet on it.

Back to the "New York Ad Agency..."

Did you really believe that hundreds of reporters, editors, and writers around North America are so STUPID that they'd find Stephen Barrett's ludicrous prose inviting? Journalists go to school - and they're taught to be investigative. Editors are a notch above that. Don't be naive.

In my opinion, it would be safe to assume that EVERY story you see with Stephen Barrett quoted in it was written in an office at that New York ad agency - and then broadcast to publications and "services." The ad agency probably writes hundreds of stories, and even then, only a few get published, by media suffering from Editor/Journalist deadline overload, during a sort of journalistic version of "a bad hair day."

Big pharma doesn't own the media - they've just learned to exploit its weaknesses. All big pharma has to do is send the New York ad agency checks, and more checks, and more checks.. With the price of drugs in this country being what they are, they've got plenty of cash to deliver for this ad agency service.

That's what I think...

Tim Bolen - Consumer Advocate


This "Millions of Health Freedom Fighters - Newsletter" is about the battle between "Health and Medicine" on Planet Earth. Tim Bolen is an op/ed writer with extensive knowledge of the activities of a subversive organization calling itself the "quackbusters," and that organization's attempts to suppress, and discredit, any, and all health modalities that compete with the allopathic (MD) paradigm for consumer health dollars. The focus of the newsletter is on the ongoing activities, battles, politics, and the victories won by members of the "Health Freedom Movement" against the "quackbusters" It details "who the quackbusters are, what they are, where they are operating, when they appear, and how they operate - and how easy it is to beat them..."

For background information on the "Battle between Health and Medicine" go to: "". A copy of THIS newsletter, and older ones, are viewable at the website "".

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