Congressional Republicans Blast ABC; ABC Fires Back

Jun 23, 2009 4:22pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: A group of several dozen Republican House members has sent a letter blasting ABC News about its plans to televise a health care forum from the White House — and the president of ABC News fired back today.

The letter to ABC News, signed by 40 members of the newly formed “Media Fairness Caucus,” accuses ABC of “providing in-kind free advertising for President Obama.”

“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 members of Congress wrote to ABC News President David Westin. “This is not a Presidential news conference open to all news outlets. This is an exclusive arrangement from which the President and his viewpoint stand to gain. It’s as if ABC News is providing in-kind free advertising for President Obama.”

The letter asks that ABC “present both sides and offer the opportunity for rebuttal.”

Westin wrote back to the members of Congress, promising 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,” he wrote.

“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. I would have thought that a subject as important as the health care received by the American people would rise above this sorry spectacle. Our citizens need and deserve more. We are proud to be making a serious effort to go beyond mere punditry or stylized, bipolar debate; we are proud to work for a network and a company willing to devote valuable airtime to serious consideration of a subject so worthy,” Westin wrote.

You can read the full letter from the members of the Media Fairness Caucus HERE.

And you can read David Westin’s reply HERE.

Also today, the Republican National Committee is launching a new national cable ad attacking “a national TV network” for ‘turn[ing] its airwaves over to President Obama's pitch for government-run health care.”

Watch that ad HERE.

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