ABC to broadcast from White House during primetime push for health care

Posted on June 16, 2009



(Image credit: Michelle Malkin)

It’s being reported that ABC news will on June 24th broadcast its World News from the Blue Room of the White House, to be followed by a prime-time special called “Prescription for America” which will feature a town-hall Q-and-A with President Obama. The RNC on Monday night complained to ABC about its concerns over the entire presentation descending into a “glorified infomercial” with all the planned hype-up and coverage on all of ABC’s other news programs. ABC, in turn, has responded that the entire enterprise will be quite fair and will solely be in charge of the town hall questioners.

The problem is that ABC having sole authority over questioners does little to assuage concerns of bias after a campaign where it seemed the broadcast networks were openly rooting for Obama (see Evan Thomas, assistant editor of Newsweek, comparing Obama to God) and when many feel that news editors share the views and goals of the Obama administration. I’m not really that crazy about the town hall format when it’s used by either party, as there are just too many stories of both sides planting supposedly random people to ask canned questions to elicit scripted response.

It sure doesn’t foster any image of objectivity when you’re doing your remote from the President’s pad. It suggests an uncomfortable chumminess between politician and press that is damaging to the role of an adversarial media in search of the bottom line truth. And it sure doesn’t help the image of objectivity when it seems the networks will drop everything whenever Obama has a message he wants to get out to the prime-time audience.

It would be akin to Fox News doing the same thing for former President Bush, except that, though Fox does lean right, it never gave anything resembling the aw-shucks lovefest the media gives the current President. Indeed, I think a lot of people think that the existence of Fox News somehow negates whatever egregious bias exists at ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, MSNBC, CNN, etc. These people include the President, who whined that Fox News was devoted to attacking him and didn’t cover a single positive story on him during the day (which is, honestly, a quite hyperbolic exaggeration). This was in the same interview that CNN Headline News saw fit to term “Breaking News” when Obama gets the better of a fly, to the claps and cheers of the interviewer and onlookers.

As for ABC’s assurances of fairness, I’ll hold judgment until I see the actual broadcast. Gwen Ifill, after fears of unfairness when it came to light she had a book coming out about the “Age of Obama,” actually did a decent job hosting the VP debate. Perhaps they’ll surprise many and ask Obama some tough questions about the projected costs and potential for government control to the destruction of private health plans. Somehow, though, I fear the whole enterprise will be softball questions that allow the President to continue his “health care crisis that must be acted on NOW” rhetoric with the poor town-hall folks looking expectantly to Obama for medical salvation. If it ends up that Obama ends up controlling the narrative, then it’s a losing proposition for the American public, who need answers and analysis of the biggest policy debate of our time – not agenda-driven propaganda.

Posted in: News, Politics