Thursday, June 18, 2009

ABC TV Becomes the All Barack Company

ABC (formerly American Broadcasting Company) was so thrilled with President Obama's speech on health care, and so overwhelmed by the brilliance of the underlying Kennedy medical care takeover, that the bigwigs have decided simply to move into the White House to avoid having to take a trip across town to hear the words of the Great Healer.
ABC's coverage after the speech became more fawning as time wore on. At first, ABC actually made a few comments that questioned whether the plan was perfect, or even whether America could afford it. But ultimately, starting with George Stephanopoulos on "World News," a sycophantic avalanche had begun which by Wednesday afternoon ran 55 to 18 comments in favor of the plan. The lockstep has begun.

Stephanopoulos was ecstatic reporting how Obama received wild applause from doctors who agreed that the health care system should be run by healers and not by bean counters. Many of us who saw the speech would have said "mild" not "wild," but applause is in the ear of the beholder. Dr. Tim Johnson, ABC's socialized medicine advocate, said "it was a very tender moment . . . and I think he was right on target at reaching out to the heart of most physicians." Johnson neglected to mention that while he was reaching for doctors' hearts with one hand, Obama was reaching for the taxpayers' wallets with the other.

And then came the bombshell. Stephanopoulos promoted an upcoming June 24 primetime special "Questions for the President: Prescription for America." Johnson will be joining Stephanopoulos for that coup. Not a bad "get" for the network, except the special will be set up, organized in, and broadcast from the East Room of the White House. I guess Martin Sheen already had the West Wing tied up. That's a whole lot more than what reporters used to call a "scoop."

The reaction to this symbiotic love fest has so far shown up only on conservative websites, some local radio and TV stations, and of course, Fox News Network. Grace-Marie Turner, president of the not-for-profit Galen Institute said that if ABC's June 24 special turns out to be one-sided, it would be "unconscionable." Good Morning America will join ABC's World News in a week of coverage of the issue. It's called "softening up the opposition." Turner added that "it is absolutely reckless of ABC to host a presentation from the White House on this issue and to not include opposing viewpoints."

Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Ken McKay complained to ABC News and asked for "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." More to the point, McKay said that without outside comment, the report will be nothing more than a "glorified infomercial."

Although ABC News senior vice president Kerry Smith insists that ABC has "had many critics of the President's health care plan on ABC reports," he was unable to explain the three-to-one margin of favorable comments over negative comments. In the two day period leading up to Obama's speech, ABC, CBS and NBC had a total of eight segments and two news briefs promoting the plan and the President's upcoming speech. In that same time period, the three networks allowed one critic, and showed one short segment from a commercial opposing government-run health insurance. But it remains unclear how ABC got the exclusive on the East Room. Maybe CBS and NBC already got the Lincoln Bedroom.

Even former Presidential candidate John McCain (RINO, AZ) found his conservative credentials long enough to ask "How can we possibly , reasonably address this bill . . . without accounting how to pay for it?" As of this writing, neither McCain nor any other opponent of the bill has been offered rebuttal time from ABC, let alone an entire wing of the White House to broadcast from. The real statistic which ABC will be completely ignoring on the 24th is that of the 47 to 50 million uninsured people that Obama and the Democrats claim need government health care, 9.7 million (a low estimate from the Census Bureau) are non-citizens, 7.9 million are under 24 years old (and need little medical care or haven't yet gone to work where employer-provided insurance would largely be available), and more than 9 million earn over $75,000 per year and could well afford to pay for their own insurance.

Thanks to my friend Angel in Arizona and several of our regulars for reminding me that this is about more than just a crazy, socialist government takeover of health care. It is also about the extremely dangerous intimacy between the media and the administration which undermines the whole purpose of the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press. A news organization that takes up residence in the White House is no longer performing its genuine public function. It's one thing to be in the tank for a politician, and it's quite another to become his roommate.

Because I felt it was appropriate to post this column today, I will be doing my San Francisco Diary on Saturday instead of its usual spot on Thursday.

15 comments:

Khassie said...

I weep for our once-great country. :(

Anonymous said...

Hell no government meddling in my healthcare.

AndrewPrice said...

Nice article Lawhawk. Last I heard, ABC was actually refusing to sell commercial time to opponents of the "reform", but I'm not sure if that's true or not.

On a programming note, in light of this whole thing, we're going to skip ahead in the Rebuilding of the Republican Party series next week and we will address health care reform in a series of articles.

Writer X said...

Perhaps in between the bits on healthcare "reform," they can squeeze in segments on Shamwow and the Juicer.

What a sham. And the Republicans are still are way too silent and polite on this issue. I keep hoping that someone--at this point, it would only be FoxNEWS--would do segments on people who get government-run healthcare. The Canadians who spend their winters in Arizona have told me horror stories. Where are the human interest stories on that? I haven't seen any yet. I'm starting to wonder if we ever will.

StanH said...

The Fourth Estate are experiencing nirvana with their devoted love of Barry. IMO this will further degrade their claim of impartiality, speaking truth to power, etc. There is a real and growing anger in Muddville USA, and I believe when we are able to vanquish the left and their sycophants from the field it will get done. Socialized medicine is on the ropes keep the pressure up folks and keep your doctor. Good read Lawhawk.

LawHawkSF said...

Anon: The fight has only begun.

Khassie and WriterX: If they pull all or most of this off, we'll need the Shamwows to mop up the tears we'll be spilling on our tax forms.

StanH: Our best hope is that this sneaky trick will backfire. A large and growing segment of the population is starting to get the idea that Obama is exploiting the economic crisis to ram his socialist agenda down our throats before we can object.

Andrew: Events do sometimes overtake our own agenda as well, don't they? I didn't see this health care five-year plan coming at us this fast. I'm glad we're able to shift gears this quickly. I hope the Republican Party can do the same.

SQT said...

The complete meltdown of an objective media is what scares me most about this administration. One of the few things we should be able to expect from the media, in a country with free speech, is that they would keep a healthy skepticism toward government. But no. Not anymore.

What happened to the so-called anti-establishment generation? We're they always this weak? Or did they just sell out?

LawHawkSF said...

SQT: I am a proud member of the anti-establishment generation. When we became the establishment, I switched sides. Unfortunately, most of my friends and allies didn't join me. They like the percs they claimed to despise.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, we are nothing is not responive to our readers needs! :-)

Sqt, you aren't kidding! Although the media has always been a lot biased, they have never before abandoned even the appearance of neutrality like they have these days. I guess that's what happens when you see the administrator as God?

StanH, we already see this when 60% of the population says that they think the media is biased. It's only going to get worse as the other 40% catch on.

Writer X, forget the ShamWOW guys, Obama is the origianl ShamHOW guy.

patti said...

where is leadership on this issue? where is anyone, who we elected, working FOR THE PEOPLE?!

the whole dirty affair makes me need a hot shower with an industrial luffa...

patti said...

*whom

sorry to the english teach...

Writer X said...

Agreed, Andrew. The next thing we know Obama will start wearing that goofy mouthpiece like the Shamwow guy and rely on it much like his teleprompter.

LawHawkSF said...

Patti: Good question and comment. And we don't worry bout no grammar here nohow.

StlDan said...

We don't have to rely on Canada or GB for examples of Government run health care. Here is an example in good ole America.
http://www.physiciansforreform.org/index.php?id=30

LawHawkSF said...

StlDan: Well that was horrifying. A one-two punch. We won't pay for your treatment, but we will pay for your assisted suicide because it's more cost-effective. In the San Francisco mandated health care system, you die from the treatment, if you're ever lucky enough to get a treatment, but since California hasn't passed assisted suicide yet, at least they can't offer to kill you--cheap. Here the one-two punch is incompetence or indifference.

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