Green Room

ABC to make Obamacare Infomercial

posted at 1:27 pm on June 16, 2009 by

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?

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