GOP town hall backlash is 'hybrid' of real concern and 'manufactured' anger, Sean Spicer says

Sean Spicer said "just because they're loud doesn't mean that there are many."

ByABC News
February 22, 2017, 2:28 PM

— -- The backlash by constituents at GOP town hall meetings across the country is a mix of genuine concern and "manufactured" anger instigated by "professional" protesters, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters today.

President Trump asserted in a Twitter post on Tuesday that "so-called angry crowds" at GOP town hall meetings nationwide are "actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists." Several Republican town hall meetings across the country were filled with angry constituents who blasted elected officials and at times derailed the meetings.

"Is he suggesting this is manufactured anger? That this is not real anger and real concern?" ABC News' chief White House correspondent, Jonathan Karl, asked during the press briefing.

"I think there's a hybrid there," Spicer replied. "I think some people are clearly upset, but there is a bit of professional protester manufactured base in there."

"It is not a representation of a member's district ... It is a loud, small group of people disrupting something, in many cases for media attention, no offense," Spicer added. "Just because they're loud doesn't mean that there are many."

Karl pressed, asking, "Does the president doubt there is real anger and real concern out there beyond just a few loud agitators — that there's real concern that people may lose their health care plans?"

But Spicer called anger at Republicans over the possibility of losing health care coverage during the impending repeal of the Affordable Care Act a "false narrative," hitting the Obama administration and health care exchanges across the country for stripping people of their health care plans under Obamacare.

"For those who are worried, the answer is, help is on the way," Spicer said.

The exchange was similar to an August 2009 exchange between ABC News' senior White House correspondent at the time, Jake Tapper, and then-press-secretary Robert Gibbs. The Democrats, in control of the House and Senate at the time, unveiled their plan for health care reform that summer, and there was a strong reaction against it.

"I think some of it is, yes," Gibbs said when asked if the backlash was manufactured. "In fact, I think you've had groups today, Conservatives for Patients Rights, that have bragged about organizing and manufacturing that anger."

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