Patterico's Pontifications

6/16/2009

ABC to make Obamacare Infomercial

Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:30 am

[Posted by Karl]

The Drudge Report reprints Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Ken McKay’s complaint to the head of ABCNews:

Dear Mr. Westin:

As the national debate on health care reform intensifies, I am deeply concerned and disappointed with ABC’s astonishing decision to exclude opposing voices on this critical issue on June 24, 2009. Next Wednesday, ABC News will air a primetime health care reform “town hall” at the White House with President Barack Obama. In addition, according to an ABC News report, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, WORLD NEWS, NIGHTLINE and ABC’s web news “will all feature special programming on the president’s health care agenda.” This does not include the promotion, over the next 9 days, the president’s health care agenda will receive on ABC News programming.

Today, the Republican National Committee requested an opportunity to add our Party’s views to those of the President’s to ensure that all sides of the health care reform debate are presented. Our request was rejected. I believe that the President should have the ability to speak directly to the America people. However, I find it outrageous that ABC would prohibit our Party’s opposing thoughts and ideas from this national debate, which affects millions of ABC viewers.

In the absence of opposition, I am concerned this event will become a glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat agenda. If that is the case, this primetime infomercial should be paid for out of the DNC coffers. President Obama does not hold a monopoly on health care reform ideas or on free airtime. The President has stated time and time again that he wants a bipartisan debate. Therefore, the Republican Party should be included in this primetime event, or the DNC should pay for your airtime.

The response from ABCNews purports to address the “false premises” of the letter, but does not deny the central charge of the letter, i.e., that the GOP is being excluded from responding to the White House infomercial ABCNews plans to air. The closest the response comes is to claim the following:

ABC News is looking for the most thoughtful and diverse voices on this issue. ABC News alone will select those who will be in the audience asking questions of the president. Like any programs we broadcast, ABC News will have complete editorial control. To suggest otherwise is quite unfair to both our journalists and our audience.

In reality, ABCNews aired a Potemkin town hall for Hillary Clinton in March 2007, complete with fawning from Robin Roberts about Hillarycare being “ahead of its time,” and a prepared question from an audience member who, in ‘93, just happened to have been on the Clinton’s universal health care task force. That ABCNews Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos is part of a 17-year-long conference call with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel does not exactly inspire confidence, either.

ABC’s response is inadvertently telling in another respect:

Indeed, we’ve already had many critics of the President’s health care proposals on the air – and that’s before a real plan has even been put before the country.

The half-cocked efforts in Congress to date inspire no confidence that a “real plan” will put before the country by June 24 — so what is the rationale for handing Obama another piece of primetime?

–Karl

74 Responses to “ABC to make Obamacare Infomercial”

  1. Over at MSNBC they must be hearing the refrain, “Thre’s a new kid in town”…

    This whole disgusting episode gives a whole new meaning to “free press”; and is the opening salvo of the public full court press for Obama-care…

    What can I say, but this is an Obama-nation

    Oh, and I’m Outraged!

    And I hope that Obama fails…

    This is taking the daily Rahm-bo conference call to a whole new level of propagandizing…

    Bob (99fc1b)

  2. Of course, this would not be an issue with the RNC if the Fairness Doctrine was still in place.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  3. I see that the serial liar, fabulist and Tourrette’s sufferer is going to foul yet another thread.

    ABC cannot let CBS and NBC too far ahead of them in their worship of Teh One. The idea of a free and unbiased press is dying right in front of our eyes. This is really breath-taking.

    JD (459763)

  4. Of course, this would not be an issue with the RNC if the Fairness Doctrine was still in place.

    Nor would this be an issue if the media tried to be fair.

    In any event, the Obama people must really be worried about the status of his healthcare plan. I’m sure many at ABC are willing co-conspirators but there must be some grownups at ABC who see the risk of doing this.

    DRJ (180b67)

  5. Fix the Indian Health Service, the Veterans Health Administration, and then Medicare & Medicaid (from the smallest to the largest) before you screw up the rest of the nation’s health care, please.

    You could start by assigning all members of Congress, their families, siblings, parents, and children, as well as those of the Executive Branch and Judicial Branch, to receive health care ONLY through Indian Health Services for the next, say, two years, then the VA for the next two, and M&M for the next two.

    As screwed up as is how we pay for health care, none of it is anywhere near as screwed up as those.

    htom (412a17)

  6. The text of ABC News’ letter:

    Mr. Ken McKay
    Chief of Staff
    Republican National Committee
    310 First Street SE
    Washington, D.C. 20003

    Dear Mr. McKay:

    I am in receipt of your letter of June 15, 2009 and wanted to respond to a number of false premises you raise regarding our ongoing and upcoming coverage of health care.

    I hope we can all agree that a robust debate of health care issues and potential policies is in order.

    To that end, ABC News announced plans to broadcast a primetime hour from the White House devoted to exploring and probing the President’s position and giving voice to questions and criticisms of that position. We hope that any American concerned about health care will find our efforts to be informative, fair and civil.
    Second, ABC News prides itself on covering all sides of important issues and asking direct questions of all newsmakers — of all political persuasions — even when others have taken a more partisan approach and even in the face of criticism from extremes on both ends of the political spectrum. ABC News is looking for the most thoughtful and diverse voices on this issue. ABC News alone will select those who will be in the audience asking questions of the president. Like any programs we broadcast, ABC News will have complete editorial control. To suggest otherwise is quite unfair to both our journalists and our audience.
    Third, there already has been extensive coverage of the upcoming health care debates, on ABC and elsewhere, and there will be much, much more. Indeed, we’ve already had many critics of the President’s health care proposals on the air – and that’s before a real plan has even been put before the country.
    In the end, no one watching, listening to, or reading ABC News will lack for an understanding of all sides of these important questions.

    Thank you for your interest.

    Kerry Smith
    Senior Vice President, ABC News

    The RNC need not worry. There are other venues they’ve used to get their message out. Limbaugh boasts of 20 million listerners a week. Try his show as a forum. And there’s Fox News, 24/7 as an outlet as well.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  7. Amusingly, Smith claims to want to address “false premises” … but does not actually bother doing so.

    SPQR (72771e)

  8. Dan Riehl refutes the ABC position:

    Hey, I know. Let’s give the Bush White House a few hours on ABC to make a complete presentation from policy advisers and military personnel to go through the run up, execution and corrections regarding the Iraq War. And explain why bringing modernity to the Middle-east actually is a part of the war against terrorism. The media always likes to get behind a war effort, anyway. Oops, sorry, too late for that. Bet they wish they had thought of it then.

    Actually, Bush did ask for time to explain this stuff, and the networks turned him down flat — political speech, not newsworthy, yada yada yada.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  9. ABC News alone will select those who will be in the audience asking questions of will fellate the president. Like any programs we broadcast, ABC News will have complete editorial tongue control. To suggest otherwise is quite unfair to both our journalists and our audience other enthusiastic amateur whores.

    nk (84aad8)

  10. SPQR – They want a full and robust debate amongst those that believe a national healthcare system is wise, practical, and prudent. This is a freaking joke.

    SHOCKA – DCRAP plays the Boss Limbaugh and Fox cards.

    JD (459763)

  11. Since there is not an actual plan on the table, isn’t this a bit premature?

    JD (459763)

  12. This is hilarious, when ABC News and the Obama White House conspire to create a political infomercial, its the RNC fault according to DCSCA.

    Could anyone be more self-beclowned?

    SPQR (72771e)

  13. JD,

    Your #11 is implied in my last graf. ABCNews wants to give a platform to Obama’s healthcare agenda — which is presumably all rainbows and unciorns, universal coverage and cost-containment, dessert topping and floor wax. ABCNews is seemingly less interested in a “real plan,” because those are just like, y’know, all icky and stuff. A “real plan” might include people losing coverage they like, rationed care and higher taxes. That’s just not good propaganda television.

    Karl (f07e38)

  14. They will be cross-promoting this thing on all of their shows, hyping the crap out of it, and it will air as an infomercial for the DNC. They would get big bucks for coverage like this if it were for a private entity; instead, they will be able to sell commercials for big bucks to health-care related advertisers.

    Unfortunately, all you can do is point and note the skew in coverage. ABC isn’t going to change its George-Stephanopolis newsgroup, and what they are doing isn’t illegal. Americans aren’t so dumb – they will make their choices based on the vast array of information sources at their fingertips.

    carlitos (84409d)

  15. Hey, Obama hasn’t packed the FCC yet. Time to start filing complaints against ABC affilites demanding equal time for opponents or no time for Obama.

    PCD (02f8c1)

  16. ABC News is looking for the most thoughtful and diverse voices on this issue.

    So they will provide Black, Asian and Hispanic shills for Obamacare.

    Patricia (2183bb)

  17. Ooh, that stings, Patricia!

    carlitos (84409d)

  18. Diversity has a variety of meanings amongst the Leftists. One thing is for certain, thougt is never included in their concept of diversity.

    Karl – You explained it far better than I.

    JD (459763)

  19. My cunning plan to ensure a “O” audience share for ObABCma’s “event”:

    Nekkid Jell-O rasslin’ chix on Fox!

    MarkJ (42fe5b)

  20. I thought you rightists believed the media is hopelessly biased on behalf of the left-wing? Why even get your panties in a bunch about things like this, then? You supposedly already know the score.

    Patricia, I don’t understand why you introduced race into this. Are there no whites who want health care reform, or who support Obama’s proposals for reform?

    I think people who feel the need to inject race into peculiar places might want to evaluate why they feel the need to do so.

    “Diversity” does not just refer to race. It can refer to age, gender, ethnicity, religion, region — any number of things.

    Myron (98529a)

  21. You could start by assigning all members of Congress, their families, siblings, parents, and children, as well as those of the Executive Branch and Judicial Branch, to receive health care ONLY through Indian Health Services for the next, say, two years, then the VA for the next two, and M&M for the next two.

    htom: I agree with that. I think that would put us on the fast-track toward real reform. Congresspeople with their cushy, platinum health plan truly have no idea how it is for many of the regular folks.

    Myron (98529a)

  22. “Diversity” does not just refer to race. It can refer to age, gender, ethnicity, religion, region — any number of things.

    Just not ideas.

    carlitos (84409d)

  23. Calitos: The event is a town hall. Presumably, everyone won’t have the same opinions.

    The Republicans seem jilted that they cannot make some kind of statement to air with the town hall.

    My suggestion is for them to have a town hall and quit whining.

    Myron (98529a)

  24. Calitos: The event is a town hall. Presumably, everyone won’t have the same opinions.

    The Republicans seem jilted that they cannot make some kind of statement to air with the town hall.

    My suggestion is for them to have a town hall of their own and quit whining. Their house organ, FoxNews, can air it, then they can orchestrate some tea parties about it later.

    Wasn’t it Republican Phil Gramm who called us a “nation of whiners”?

    Whining is very unbecoming and it earns no new voters.

    Myron (98529a)

  25. Calitos: The event is a town hall. Presumably, everyone won’t have the same opinions.

    The Republicans seem jilted that they cannot make some kind of statement to air with the town hall.

    Wasn’t it Republican Phil Gramm who called us a “nation of whiners”?

    Whining is very unbecoming and it earns no new voters.

    My suggestion is for the GOP to have a town hall of its own and quit whining. The party’s house organ, FoxNews, can air it, then they can orchestrate some tea parties about it later.

    Myron (98529a)

  26. I apologize for the triple-post, and while I’m at it, for misspelling “carlitos.”

    Myron (98529a)

  27. Calitos: The event is a town hall. Presumably, everyone won’t have the same opinions.

    Myron – “Presumably” = you have not read the entire post. Try again. Read it, click the links even. Robin Roberts, George Stephanopalis, DNC activists planted in the crowd. You are so naive.

    carlitos (84409d)

  28. All the Republicans need to do to stop government socialization of health care is run a very simple ad. Billboards, TV, radio – it would be short, sweet, and to the point.

    Will Obamacare be good for you? Ask your doctor.

    People actually trust their doctors. The federal government, not so much.

    carlitos (84409d)

  29. Try again. Read it, click the links even.

    Carlitos: I read the whole post as well as ABC’s letter, which disputed the basic premise of the post. If I’m “naive” b/c I don’t accept wholesale everything someone claims on a blog without regard to the other side, then hey, I own it.

    Myron (98529a)

  30. Why isn’t this an illegal contribution to Obama or the DNC? It seems to me that they’re just handing him and the Democrats millions of dollars in free advertising for their platform, especially since they refuse to provide any time for opposing views.

    rochf (ae9c58)

  31. Here is the kind of spontaneous question you will see in the ABC townhall. A longtime Wisconsin Democrat asked the very first question after his health care speech in Green Bay. Coincidence, probably – she also called health care the “civil rights issue of our time.”

    carlitos (84409d)

  32. Was there ever a bigger whine by a Presidential candidate than “I don’t look like the other Presidents on the dollar bills”?

    Like this f__kboy has the stature of any President on a dollar bill or will ever be on a dollar bill.

    nk Barack Hussein Obama (ca8012)

  33. “I hope we can all agree that a robust debate of health care issues and potential policies is in order.”–Joseph Goebbels (or some ABC hack…same thing)

    The liberal Democrats had a chance to show what socialized medicine could do in the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment, and instead of curing people, they used government controlled health care to murder innocent people
    in cold blood, in an experiment that would have done Dr. Mengele proud.

    End of debate.

    And, my personal boycott of ABC and every other media outlet that serves as a mouthpiece for the liberal Democrats will, of course, continue.

    Propagandize to your heat’s content…but, I won’t be listening.

    Dave Surls (bfda6b)

  34. I miss the good old days when the MSM pretended to be unbiased. Now that they’re all in the tank, it kind of takes the fun out of ridiculing them.

    I’m gobsmacked by what I’m witnessing in this nation. As I’ve said before: Everything that the left accused Bush of is reality in the Obama administration.

    The left is starting to resemble Hamlin’s rats.

    Ag80 (745a02)

  35. “The left is starting to resemble Hamlin’s rats.”

    If only that were true.

    We could probably achieve the same effect as the Pied Piper by lining them all up on the bank of the Weser, then have somebody stand on the far bank and start waving a welfare check.

    Dave Surls (bfda6b)

  36. nk: Why is Obama a “boy”? He’s not the youngest person elected president.

    Myron (98529a)

  37. Dave Surls: Your stance on ABC is logical. You don’t expect them to do what you believe in your heart they cannot or will not do: Be unbiased.

    Other people claim that the network is hopelessly left-leaning, then complain when they supposedly act accordingly.

    Myron (98529a)

  38. Betsy’s page has highlighted an idea of John Steele Gordon which is too good not to quote in full:

    Why not have the federal government demonstrate that it can provide adequate health care to American Indians, a promise it hasn’t kept for 222 years? Then demonstrate it can provide adequate health care to veterans, a promise it hasn’t kept for 79 years. Then demonstrate that it can reform and efficiently run the health insurance system called Medicare, which it has been been making a dog’s breakfast of for the last 44 years. And then, and only then, take over all of American health care.

    Or even better, why not have the mainstream media do its job for once and vigorously investigate the federal government’s actual track record in regard to health care? It’s not an impressive résumé for someone applying to run the whole show. Indeed, it’s a more-than-two-hundred-year record of failure, inadequate funding, bureaucratic indifference, and broken promises.

    Those of you who are against national health care should consider memorizing the main facts Gordon cites and repeat them over and over to the proponents of this uncommonly stupid idea..

    vnjagvet (d3d48a)

  39. Presumably, everyone won’t have the same opinions

    Please give us one example in any of these Dem townhall – style “discussions” where the guest(s) received any questions that could be deemed remotely contrary to their predominant viewpoints.

    Just one – should be easy for you…right?

    Dmac (f7884d)

  40. Other people claim that the network is hopelessly left-leaning, then complain when they supposedly act accordingly.

    No, “other people” (what the heck does that mean?) complain because broadcast nets like ABC lie through their teeth 24/7 when they continually claim to be objective and unbiased – all we wish is for them to admit their extreme biases upfront, every day.

    Dmac (f7884d)

  41. DMac: I think it’s a reasonable to conclude that a town hall on health care reform will attract people who are interested in health care reform. In other words, a town hall on a specific subject, by its vary nature, encourages some self-selection.

    So, if you’re asking if I can find evidence of someone getting up and saying he believed the system is “just fine,” I’ll save us all the trouble and say I probably won’t be able to find that.

    But I would not characterize a desire for health care reform as a left or right issue, just because the Democrats are the party that has made it a signature goal.

    Myron (98529a)

  42. Sounds like a veiled ploy to encourage viewers to turn the channel and watch Letterman.

    papertiger (0b6250)

  43. F__kboy is a prison term for a certain kind of personality which I think Obama exactly matches.

    nk Barack Hussein Obama (84aad8)

  44. Also, DMac: ABC said in its letter that it will pick audience members. That should ensure that its town hall will have more challenging questions than the one in Green Bay. The network would not benefit from an event full of softballs. Conflict sells.

    Myron (98529a)

  45. Myron, I can’t tell if you are really this obtuse or honestly don’t get it. The post states, and I agree, that people in this meeting will be Obama supporters, single-payer proponents, and other sycophants. They will not represent a cross-section of American opinion on the matter. Is that clear? Feel free to disagree, just don’t pretend not to hear the argument.

    carlitos (84409d)

  46. RACISTS !!!!!!

    JD (2c7553)

  47. When Teh One gets away from TOTUS, we get things like 57 states, Joe the Plumber, and dijon mustard. I have not one iota of doubt that he will be pelted with softballs throughout. I can guarantee that nobody will ask him any of the kinds of questions we would.

    JD (2c7553)

  48. I think it’s a reasonable to conclude that a town hall on health care reform will attract people who are interested in health care reform.

    This is what you get with 40 years of leftists running education. They live in a world of imagination. They think that those left wing moonbat ideas that will wreck the country are practical because they don’t know any better. The CBO just came out yesterday to say that the Obama plan will cost $1 trillion and insure 6% of the population reducing the uninsured by 1/3. No problem. We’ll just borrow it from China, or someplace.

    I Hope that gay general gets up again and asks a question. It was pretty entertaining to see a retired general complaining about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

    Mike K (90939b)

  49. Ya think it’s possible the other networks were asked to jointly conduct and air the town hall meeting from the White House but declined to again preempt their prime time lineups for a yawner? Will ABC have advertisers, I wonder, or will it be presented as public service programming. It just seems kind of weird that ABC would be singled out for the “honor”.

    elizabeth (e798ba)

  50. Oh, sorry. I must have missed a turn. Thought this was the U.S.A. Damn sure ain’t my country. Going back.

    DaveinPhoenix (699f08)

  51. Goodness, Myron – you don’t seem to have any memory of past staged events such as these, where countless so – called “questioners” who were just “ordinary Americans” were in fact rigidly – screened by both the networks and the host, all in order to make sure that nothing untoward was asked that would upset the strictly – ordered nature of the scripted answers. Lobbyists, political operatives and rabid partisans are the only ones allowed (ever) in these kinds of charades (why else would the WH allow a network to conduct this in the first place?). If you honestly expect us to believe that you’ve really never heard of this kind of Soviet – style propaganda, then wonder no more in the future when most of us here don’t have much respect for your opinion.

    Dmac (f7884d)

  52. Obama gave a telling interview with CNBC’s John Harwood re media perception and reporting on his administration. And then I read this post. Seriously, what’s a girl to conclude about her president because, in light of this post, I’m having a bit of trouble buying his statement below…

    “We welcome people who are asking us some tough questions. I think I’ve probably been as accessible as any president in the first six months…..I think that actually the reason people have been generally positive about what we’ve been trying to do is people feel as if I’m available and willing to answer questions and we haven’t been trying to hide the ball.

    Dana (aedf1d)

  53. elizabeth, they will have advertisers. This program will allow them to steal back some dollars from cable / satellite news outlets and lesserly the internet, who have stolen most of the hardcore news viewer.

    carlitos (84409d)

  54. “Other people claim that the network is hopelessly left-leaning, then complain when they supposedly act accordingly.

    That’s just incoherent Myron.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  55. carlitos: It’s not that I don’t “get it.” It’s that we don’t agree. What I don’t get is why you cannot tell the difference.

    You believe the post and ignore ABC’s response. I give them both at least some credibility. That’s the difference.

    Myron (98529a)

  56. There is evidence of their lack of credibility in the post. It is linked and sourced. Naive – you own it.

    carlitos (84409d)

  57. Shorter Myron – lalalalalalalalalala RACISTS !

    JD (aaf9e7)

  58. Perhaps now is the time for a boycott of all things Disney?

    AD - RtR/OS! (b363ba)

  59. So is there much difference between this act of ABC News kissing Barry’s butt and those occasions when the American president — any president, Democrat or Republican — gives the State of the Union address and all the broadcasters set aside some time at the end of the speech for the opposing party’s (Democrat or Republican) rebuttal?

    Mark (411533)

  60. Yes, ABC refuses to have any opposing viewpoints presented.

    AD - RtR/OS! (b363ba)

  61. The Director of Communications at the White House Office of Health Reform is Linda Douglass, an ABC News reporter from 1998-2006.

    Worth emphasizing, IMO.

    What is the Republican stance on health care? Non-profits? Health Savings Accounts? Co-ops? What?

    If someone knows, please tell me.

    steve (201bfc)

  62. They do not have any positions other than NO, steve. Right?

    JD (1910a1)

  63. How is this nÓt an in-kind donation to the DNC for a purely political event?

    JD (1910a1)

  64. steve,

    Congressional Republicans released two health care proposals in May 2009.

    DRJ (180b67)

  65. Yes, ABC refuses to have any opposing viewpoints presented.

    To clarify, my question is why does ABC News, for example, not refuse to run the opposition party’s rebuttal on the evening that a president gives his State of the Union address? Because it takes place in the US Capitol and not at the White House?

    Mark (411533)

  66. […] Michelle Malkin:  ABC: The All Barack Channel Hot Air:  Video: Obama whines about Fox News Hot Air:  ABC to broadcast town hall on health care — from the White House The Other McCain:  ABC goes MSNBC Gateway Pundit:  State Run Media Won’t Allow GOP to Respond to Obama Infomercial TownHall:  Socializing the Marketplace of Ideas Examiner:  ABC News turns programming over to Obama White House Patterico’s Pontifications:  ABC to make Obamacare Infomercial […]

    Media Watchdogs Serve New Master: ABC To Broadcast Obama Programming Direct From White House « Quick Daily Hits — Politics and Such (8246d7)

  67. Hey…Chris Matthews,
    Where is that Obama shiver located now…LOL
    He doesn’t need MSNBC anymore.

    Justin (fb92b9)

  68. […] ABCNews is rushing to air its Obamacare infomercial next week because it’s the last week they can air it without a laugh […]

    The Greenroom » Forum Archive » Obamacare as Obamacomedy (e2f069)

  69. Of course, this would not be an issue with the RNC if the Fairness Doctrine was still in place.

    The Fairness Doctrine wouldn’t apply to “news programs”. It’s about talk radio.

    Gerald A (138c50)

  70. You believe the post and ignore ABC’s response

    No duh – because in order to avoid being ignored, you must have a shred of credibility in the first place. Myron demonstrates his continuing Highlights for Children – style reasoning.

    Dmac (f7884d)

  71. If someone knows, please tell me.

    Does Steve ever have a coherent point to make?

    Dmac (f7884d)

  72. Will the Administrations health-care proposal be printed in yellow covers?; ie,
    Health-Care for Dummies!”

    AD - RtR/OS! (f52b58)

  73. Diane Sawyer told a story about sitting for jury duty. The lawyer on voir dire asked her if she could judge all the information impartially. “Of course,” she said, “I’m a journalist. I do that all day.”

    The whole courtroom burst into laughter.

    Patricia (2183bb)

  74. […] ABCNews is rushing to air its Obamacare infomercial next week because it’s the last week they can air it without a laugh […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Obamacare as Obamacomedy (e4ab32)


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