The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is getting some attention this week for filing a lawsuit against the federal government over the health care reform bill, claiming that requiring people to buy health insurance is unconstitutional (a dubious claim) and, in the words of AAPS president Jane Orient, "it spells the end of freedom in medicine as we know it."
What may not get attention from the media: AAPS is a right-wing group with a history of fringe views.
As we've documented, AAPS has promoted and endorsed numerous controversial views on medicine and health, from advising doctors to quit Medicare to advocating against mandating vaccines for children to defending a doctor who prescribed massive amounts of painkillers to patients who would then reportedly abuse the pills or distribute them to others, a practice that reportedly resulted in at least one death. AAPS also promulgated conspiracy theories about the death of former Clinton deputy counsel Vincent Foster -- whom the AAPS described as "the attorney assigned by Hillary Clinton to 'fix' the AAPS lawsuit against the Health Care Task Force" -- which numerous investigations have determined a suicide.
Perhaps most notably, in 2005 the AAPS' Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons published an attack on illegal immigrants, claiming that leprosy "was so rare in America that in 40 years only 900 people were afflicted. Suddenly, in the past three years America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy." In fact, there had been just 431 reported cases of Hansen's disease, or leprosy, over the "past three years" in question. That false claim was uncritically repeated by commentators such as CNN's Lou Dobbs.
AAPS-affiliated doctors have appeared in the audience to bash health care reform during a Glenn Beck special on the debate. One of them, David McKalip -- who wrote an "Open Letter to America's Physicians" posted on the AAPS website -- emailed a racist image depicting President Obama as a witch doctor to his fellow "tea party" activists.
Conservative outlets like WorldNetDaily and CNSNews.com have unsurprisingly reported on the lawsuit without noting AAPS' fringe views or even acknowledging it's a right-wing group. FoxNews.com concedes the group is "conservative-leaning" but is silent on its fringe views.
Will other media who report on the AAPS lawsuit also note both its political ideology and its fringe views? We'll be watching.