No Rowdy Outbursts Here, The White House Controls the Message

By Gorman Gorman

Aug 7, 2009 4:07pm

ABC News’ Sarah Tobianski reports:

In light of the recent string of disruptive town hall sessions across the country, in which protestors from various anti-health care reform groups as well as concerned individuals have tried to dominate the discussion, the Obama administration today tried a different approach to regulating their message.

In a Web cast on the www.healthreform.gov website, White House Communications Director for Health Reform Linda Douglass sat down with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and a trio of health professionals to set the record straight.

“If you have been following the debate over the past few months, you have probably heard a lot of misinformation,” Douglass said at the start of the discussion.  “Well, you are not alone.  We want to be sure that you have the facts and we are here today to answer your questions directly.”

The webcast builds on the dialogue started earlier this week by Douglass, who in a YouTube video told the world that it is her job to keep track of “disinformation” on health care reform.

Now, these types of videos are nothing new for the administration.  In the past, live chats have been held with administration officials like Sebelius and Council of Economic Advisers chair Christina Romer to answer viewer questions on the whitehouse.gov site in conjunction to Facebook.  During these chats, an on camera assistant would sit with a laptop and appear to read off user questions.

But in today’s webcast, questions were preselected off camera – though Douglass encouraged viewers to submit questions online and via Twitter – and there was no studio audience.  

Sebelius stuck to many of the administration’s themes such as freedom of choice on health care and assured reform must be done right.

“Congress is working hard on this…It’s complicated but it’s very important.  There’s nothing more personal to Americans than health care,” Sebelius said.

The release for the webcast promised that Sebelius would announce “a series of new state by state reports outlining how health insurance reform will improve health care for all Americans.”

This information was announced by Sebelius back on June 26, according to a posting on the site.

-Sarah Tobianski

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