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1 GOP Criticizes ABC's Obama "Infomercial" on Wed Jun 24, 2009 3:42 pm


June 24, 2009 1:14 PM
GOP Criticizes ABC's Obama "Infomercial"

(AP )This evening President Obama will participate in a town hall forum on health care, which will air exclusively on ABC at 10 p.m. Eastern Time. And Republicans aren't happy about it.

The Republican National Committee derides the event as an "infomercial." And a newly-formed group called The Media Fairness Caucus, headed by Texas Republican Congressman Lamar Smith, sent a letter to ABC one signed by 40 Republican members of Congress complaining that the network's decision to air the forum along with accompanying coverage "gives the American people a slanted view" on the health care debate.

"The manner in which the news programming is being presented at the White House with the President and First Lady and without opposition is unprofessional and contrary to the journalistic code of ethics to present the news fairly and independently," the letter says. "This is not a Presidential news conference open to all news outlets. This is an exclusive arrangement from which the President and his viewpoints stand to gain.

ABC News president David Westin responded with a letter of his own in which he complains that "you have found it appropriate to criticize a program that has not yet aired."

"Contrary to your assertions, this will not be 'slanted' in any way much less a 'day-long infomercial' or 'in-kind free advertising' as you allege," writes Westin. "It will be a thoughtful, respectful, and probing discussion of some of the issues raised by the calls for health-care reform. We will include a variety of perspectives coming from private individuals asking the President questions and taking issue with him, as they see fit."

"Sadly, some inside government and within the private sector see every issue as material for a sort of political high theatre, to be used to gain votes or energize political bases or simply to raise funds," Westin added. "I would have thought that a subject as important as the health care received by the American people would rise above this sorry spectacle."

In a press release announcing the event, ABC said the audience would be "made up of Americans selected by ABC News who have divergent opinions in this historic debate." It also noted that ABC News Medical Editor Dr. Timothy Johnson will be involved in the event. In its letter, The Media Fairness Caucus derided Johnson as biased and said his involvement, along with that of Linda Douglass, who once worked for ABC and now works in the Obama administration, "gives the appearance of a state-run television network."

Westin responded that he "entirely reject[s] your attack" on Johnson, whose "knowledge about health care reform is surpassed only by his commitment to the truth and to fairness." He also noted that Douglass left ABC almost four years ago. (There was a similar back and forth between ABC and the RNC last week.)

The tradition of presidents reaching out directly to the American people dates back at least as far as President Franklin D. Roosevelt's fireside chats, which first took place in 1933. Roosevelt first used the radio chats, which were informal and sometimes began with the words "Good evening, friends," to win support for his New Deal initiatives to counter the Great Depression.

The practice began a tradition of regular communication between the president and the people, though the medium has evolved President Obama's weekly addresses go out in Web videos as well as over the radio. To those, of course, Republicans can respond with an address of their own an opportunity they won't have this evening.

ABC News media relations tells Hotsheet that the event this evening will air with commercials, and that the network is treating it as it does any typical hour of programming. The broadcast is unique but far from unprecedented: NBC recently ran a two-night special called "Inside The Obama White House" and CBS has built "60 Minutes" broadcasts around the president and members of his administration.

The ABC broadcast, however, is different in that it is build around a specific issue that is presently being hotly debated in Washington. As Westin rightly points out, it is impossible to know before the broadcast airs whether it will be "slanted." But the Republican letter is likely more about pressure than prognostication. Smith and his compatriots hope that their efforts will prompt the network to take pains to make sure the event is particularly confrontational. ABC News, like all media outlets, would never allow that outside pressure influences their journalism. But that hasn't stopped anyone from trying.

2 Re: GOP Criticizes ABC's Obama "Infomercial" on Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:20 pm

rosco 357

well actually i set my vcr and hope i got it correct, i think i would like to see it, i think i know enough about insurance , since for 20 years where i use to work we changed companies every year for better rates, i think i can see through any bull shit, so i hope i learn something , many ppl out there are using parts and pieces of it for there benefit , taking thing out of context , i will judge it if i get it recorded, but probably have to wait till the weekend to watch, just think it will be interesting , and wonder if he has a way to tell how it will be financed, but lots of that will be controlled by congress, and what he says, congress controls, but still im interested in what he has to say,,take care

3 Re: GOP Criticizes ABC's Obama "Infomercial" on Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:13 pm


I will watch it also Rosco,.I think it will be very informative. hope the plan will benefit the people.

4 Re: GOP Criticizes ABC's Obama "Infomercial" on Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:36 pm


I think the president is carrying this media thing a little to far, every time you flip the channel Obama is having icecream with the kids, building a play house Michelle is digging in a garden, who gives a shit ? It seems they feel they must sell themselves to the American people. Maybe there is just enough uncertainty that trying to be a media blitz is his way...Don't remember other presidents in such camera mania...It has gotten rather boring for sure. Glad I wasn't watching anything on ABC tonight.

5 Re: GOP Criticizes ABC's Obama "Infomercial" on Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:10 pm


I for one being an American like the next door friendly style of the Obamas .I have as of yet found no fault with them~~

6 Re: GOP Criticizes ABC's Obama "Infomercial" on Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:23 pm


It seems to take away from his stature as a leader, don't be my friend be my president, stop kissing ass and do something right.

7 Re: GOP Criticizes ABC's Obama "Infomercial" on Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:30 pm


Keep up the good work,I say..Obama! some people will find fault in everything~no matter what.

8 Re: GOP Criticizes ABC's Obama "Infomercial" on Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:36 pm


Those people are realists.

9 Re: GOP Criticizes ABC's Obama "Infomercial" on Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:44 pm


realists is good, but negative isn't. I don't know if this has been put

Locals Invited to Obama's Health Care Forum
Reported by: Linda So
Last Update: 4:27 pm

The future of health care in America... President Obama will speak candidly about the issue Wednesday night at a town hall style meeting. You can catch the exclusive debate right here on ABC2.

Several people from our community have been invited to the White House for the public forum.

Michael Bennett of Baltimore will be there. He never wants anyone to go through what his father did. "My father was a victim of horrific medical negligence which tortured him and ultimately killed him."

Bennett's father was a decorated World War II veteran and a former actor. At the age of 88, he was hospitalized for the flu. But it wasn't the flu that killed him. Bennett died after getting infected with six strains of bacteria that was spread in the hospital. His son says, "One of the bacteria ate off his leg. Others ate up his internal organs. And after 4 months of horrific suffering, my dad died."

That was 5 years ago. Since then, Bennett has become a passionate advocate for patients rights. He's taking that passion to the White House for Wednesday's primetime conversation with the president on healthcare reform.

Bennett hopes Obama's plan will force hospitals to improve how they handle the spread of bacteria. He says, "Because they're not complying the only way to get hospitals to comply is through mandates, whether it be legislation or regulation of some sort. This is a life and death issue."

Janet Allan, the dean at the University of Maryland's School of Nursing has also been invited to the town hall meeting. She plans to ask Obama for more educational funding.

Allan says last year alone, more than 40,000 potential nursing students were turned away because there were not enough faculty members to teach them. She says, "We really do need to do something about our health care system because we have the most expensive health care system in the world."

A healthcare system that many feel needs a complete overhaul.

10 Re: GOP Criticizes ABC's Obama "Infomercial" on Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:21 pm


Hopefully Obama is coming up with his own health care plan and not copying after Canada, theirs is a nightmare, but several reports have the two plans very much alike.

11 Re: GOP Criticizes ABC's Obama "Infomercial" on Thu Jun 25, 2009 4:51 pm

rosco 357

i think things are different now because obama is different, but the white house press, controls alot of this. we all have seen things like bush and reagan on the ranch with a chain saw, but i dont get to see much tv now. i think the obammainia will die down later, he is still rather new, because he is different, the kennedys were always in the limelight, jackie K. was a media star. i have not even checked to see if i got the abc health care thing recorded, i will check over the weekend if i did get it, take care

12 Re: GOP Criticizes ABC's Obama "Infomercial" on Thu Jun 25, 2009 8:25 pm


It was reported Obama had closely studied canada's health care program, what I don't like is he is leaving the door open for taxes on health care...

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