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An ABC Day at the White House

By Michael A. Fletcher
President Obama will continue to amp up his push for health care reform today at a White House town hall meeting on health care that will be televised in primetime on ABC.

"Questions for the President: Prescription for America" will be moderated by ABC's Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson. The session is scheduled to be taped in the White House East Room tonight before being broadcast at 10 p.m. During the meeting, Obama will answer questions from audience members selected by ABC News. Other questions will be culled from those submitted on ABCNews.com. ABC News' Medical Editor Dr. Timothy
Johnson will also take part in the broadcast, which will examine ideas for revamping the nation's health care system to reduce costs and extend coverage to 46 million Americans who lack insurance.

The hour-long broadcast will be followed by an edition of "Nightline," where more of the meeting will be aired.

The broadcasts will cap a day of special coverage of the president and his key initiatives on ABC. "Good Morning America" anchor Sawyer handled her segments of the show, including an interview with the president, from the White House this morning. Later, Gibson will anchor "World News" from the Blue Room of the White House. ABC Radio is also doing a special report on the health care issue.

The wall-to-wall coverage of the Obama's and the signature issue in his domestic policy portfolio has left Republicans irritated. Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Ken McKay wrote a letter to ABC, complaining that "this event will become a glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat agenda."

ABC News Senior Vice President Kerry Smith responded in a letter of his own to the RNC, saying the network intends to offer a balanced series of broadcasts that will be beyond White House control.

"ABC News alone will select those who will be in the audience asking questions of the president," Smith wrote. "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."

Posted at 11:10 AM ET on Jun 24, 2009  | Category:  Media Notes
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Mr. President:
I would like to know why you keep saying that if you like your doctor, like your health care plan, then you can KEEP IT. How do you tell your employer that just because I like my health care plan at my work, they should keep the plan I like. You can not tell me that if the Government offers a cheaper plan, that companies are not going to jump at the chance to get it.

Therefore, there goes my plan, and I have no choice but to accept the new Government plan or look for another job that has a better plan.

I have first hand seen Canada's health care system, believe me you wouldn't want to have to wait 2 weeks for surgery that you needed NOW.

I think you should be more focused on perscriptions and what a rip off the pharmaceutical industry is doing to the American public.

Posted by: cjpwh | June 24, 2009 10:28 PM

I don't blame the administration for taking free coverage where they can get it. I do blame ABC for doing this, however. It really does smell bad, no matter how convinced they are of their own impartiality.

Posted by: orange2299 | June 24, 2009 7:00 PM

If the universal healthcare or single payer healthcare is so frightening to some people because of what they heard about bad things coming from Canada. How come some US patients have to buy their low cost meds from Canada? So far I haven't heard some my friends filed bankruptcy due to medical cost. They all lived in Canada. I think Mr. Obama is correct. It is now or never. Healthcare cost here is astronomical and cannot be sustained in the long run.

Posted by: bigben1986 | June 24, 2009 5:31 PM

The GOP has it's own network Fox bloviating their talking points 24/7 and they gave countless hours to the Bush Administration to promote their agenda. Sorry Republicans, I am not crying for you because Obama gets time on ABC to get his healthcare agenda moving. It's a lot better for American than starting trillion dollar wars in Iraq!

Posted by: marSF | June 24, 2009 4:42 PM

________________________________________

Im not a Republican, and I have no issue with the Obama administration for doing this. More power to them if they get a network to agree. However, I do have an issue with ABC news for doing it. I don't want to see a once-great news network become something that needs the existence of FOX news to justify itself. The administration is not meant to be impartial; ABC news is.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | June 24, 2009 5:31 PM

President Obama has demonstrated competency, political maturity and savvy. The criticism thus far has been from those disconnected from reality on the left and the right. The real story is the disintegration of the Republican party. Sooner or later they will have to split. Sane conservatives will not abide Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney as their voice. Obama has made the right moves at the right time. Americans were right to elect him and thus far I am very satisfied with his efforts and results.

Posted by: buddecj | June 24, 2009 5:17 PM

The GOP has it's own network Fox bloviating their talking points 24/7 and they gave countless hours to the Bush Administration to promote their agenda. Sorry Republicans, I am not crying for you because Obama gets time on ABC to get his healthcare agenda moving. It's a lot better for American than starting trillion dollar wars in Iraq!

Posted by: marSF | June 24, 2009 4:42 PM

In the olden days, before Reagan convinced the world that only Republicans knew what is right for the WORLD, any broadcast from the President of the United States was never considered a political (therefore rebuttable) matter.
And how about that Bush tour of the White House? How many of you thought that was apolitical? Bush sent hundreds of thousands of people to war and yet had time to joke around on national TV, grinning like the chimp he is. Or how about the PBS program that filmed the state vist of Queen Elizabeth?
I didn't vote for Obama, but he is the president and whenever we have a chance to hear what he has to say, it should be considered as coming from the president of the United States -- not from red or blue states.
Don't talk to me about "bi-partisan" anything until Republican pundits and policy makers stop insisting Obama isn't being fair to them.
So far no Republican-led hearing has had to be held in the basement; no Democratic-led meeting has actually shut out and locked the doors on Republicans, no matter what Republican pundits say.
This is recent history.... do you think we all have ADHD?

Posted by: VinnieTheSnake | June 24, 2009 2:49 PM

Okay. That's another news network that's sold out and subjected itself to manipulation. I'll take that one off my viewing list, too. How long is the waiting line, anyway? He's got a lot of time left.

Posted by: qball43 | June 24, 2009 2:14 PM

RNC stop whining. If your admin. hadn't left such a mess Pres. Obama would not have to keep going on the air to let the American public know what he is doing to move the country in the right direction and to listen to what the public has to say.

Pres. Obama knows how to use the media I say more power to him and to us the American public who want to know how he intends to make America a place where we can all live a good or great life.

Posted by: rlj611 | June 24, 2009 12:50 PM

The appearance of impropriety is every bit as harmful as actual impropriety. I honestly believe that ABC news would not have done this if Peter Jennings was still with us. This is a much more significant issue than what Milbank has been whining about for 2 days.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | June 24, 2009 11:42 AM

The appearance of impropriety is every bit as harmful as actual impropriety. I honestly believe that ABC news would not have done this if Peter Jennings was still with us. This is a much more significant issue than what Milbank has been whining about for 2 days.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | June 24, 2009 11:41 AM

America is waking up; we know we are going the wrong way and destroying our own health. We are looking for better health, not ways to pay for bad health. The employment lifestyle has polluted our air, land, water and food and destroyed our quality of life. It has separated families and left generations without family supervision and guidance. We can overcome the world problems we created with the employment lifestyle by turning to a garden paradise lifestyle. Instead of trees, plants and pets that provide no fresh food around us, we can choose useful ones. That solves world problems easily, quickly, and inexpensively. It is the only sustainable lifestyle through eternity.

Science has proven that prayer, faith, herbs, sunshine and light exercise with fresh food is the best health restoring program available. It is not wisdom to go into debt, take on new bills, and be stuck in employment to pay for bills we generate because we do not choose a garden paradise lifestyle. It is the best God has for us. If we want it, we must call for it and begin it.

Posted by: MarieDevine | June 24, 2009 11:38 AM

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