The White House has decided to fight back against the release of a video by Naked Emperor News with some video warfare of its own to defend Barack Obama on his health-care reform plans. Entitled “The Truth about Health Care Insurance Reform,” itself a change from what used to be called “health-care reform,” the video features former news reporter Linda Douglass accusing Obama’s opponents of scare tactics. Politico’s Mike Allen reports that Douglass and the White House accuse NEN and others of “cherry picking” quotes to make Obama look as though he favors single-payer systems and wants to use the public plan as a Trojan horse to implement it:
“Hi. I’m Linda Douglass. I’m the communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform, and one of my jobs is to keep track of all the disinformation that’s out there about health-insurance reform. And there are a lot of very deceiving headlines out there right now, such as this one — take a look at this one. This one says, ‘Uncovered Video: Obama Explains How His Health Care Plan Will Eliminate PRIVATE Insurance.’
“Well, nothing can be farther from the truth. You know the people who always try to SCARE people whenever you try to bring them health-insurance reform are at it again. And they’re taking sentences and phrases out of context, and they’re cobbling them together to leave a VERY false impression. The truth is that the president has been talking to the American people a LOT about health-insurance reform and what is at stake for them.
“So what happens is that because he’s talking to the American people so much, there are people out there with a computer and a lot of free time, and they take a phrase here and there — they simply cherry-pick and put it together, and make it sound like he’s saying something that he didn’t really say.”
Douglass seems to have taken to her role as a propagandist rather well for someone who worked as a supposedly objective reporter for so long. How difficult is it to look through the first 64 seconds of the video Douglass attempts to rebut to find what Obama really had to say about single payer in 2003, while Obama prepared to run for the US Senate?
“I happen to be a proponent of single-payer, universal health care plans.”
Or perhaps this at 50 seconds, from 2007 while Obama was running for President:
“But I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There’s going to be potentially some transition process. I can envision a decade out, or 15 years out, or 20 years out.”
What did Obama say here? He says that he wants to eliminate employer coverage over a transition period, and that he favors a single-payer system. If Obama has ever walked back either of those two statements made as a candidate for two national political offices, I’ve yet to hear it. Instead of explaining some sort of evolution in Obama’s thinking on these points, Douglass attempts to propagandize by claiming that people who saw these clips didn’t hear Obama say exactly what he did. It’s the equivalent of a Jedi mind trick, only it’s the weak-minded trying to conduct the trick.
I’ve received a lot of e-mail this morning about this article, with ire directed at Mike Allen for not making more clear the disconnect between Douglass’ attack and the clips of Obama supporting single-payer health-care systems. Earlier, I contacted Allen for his response to the criticism:
The article was a news account disclosing the White House’s video response to a video that had been posted on Breitbart.tv and linked on the Drudge Report. I transcribed the part of the Breitbart video referred to in Drudge’s headline a) for clarity — so readers could see what was being debated; and b) for balance, so that we wouldn’t just have the White House side of it. And we linked to both videos, so people can make up their own minds. We’ll continue to report this story as we learn of new developments.
I think it would have helped to get more of the NEN video transcribed and into the Politico piece. However, the focus of the story was the White House pushback, which was newsworthy in itself (and a feather in NEN’s cap, needless to say). Politico could have hosted both videos as well, but that wouldn’t have been Allen’s call, anyway. They did link directly to the NEN video to give readers access to the argument.