Given the generally sycophantic attitude of the White House Press Corps, Robert Gibbs may have been caught off guard when he started facing some tough questions on President Obama's apparent flip-flop regarding his many promises to broadcast health care negotiations on C-SPAN. Gibbs stubbornly refused to answer multiple questions about the broken promises (h/t Byron York).
Naked Emperor News complied video clips of eight instances of Obama promising to broadcast those negotiations on C-SPAN "so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies", as he said during one speech. The President has reneged on that commitment by reportedly encouraging Congressional leaders to skip conference committee negotiations.
C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb recently sent a letter to the President and Congressional leaders "respectfully request[ing] that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American." That request went unheeded.
Given (candidate) Obama's insistence on transparency in the health care negotiations, Gibbs probably should have expected to face at least a couple questions on the president's blatant about-face. But asked about "something that's in direct violation of a promise [Obama] made during the campaign," in the words of one correspondent, Gibbs dismissed the issue and refused to answer. Video here.
QUESTION: During the campaign the President on numerous occasions said words to the effect of -- quoting one -- "all of this will be done on C-SPAN in front of the public." Do you agree that the President is breaking an explicit campaign promise?
GIBBS: Chip, we covered this yesterday and I would refer you to yesterday's transcript.
QUESTION: But today is today and --
GIBBS: And the answer that I would give today is similar to the one --
QUESTION: But there was an intervening meeting in which it's been reported that the President pressed the leaders in Congress to take the fast-track approach, to skip the conference committee. Did he do that?
GIBBS: The President wants to get a bill to his desk as quickly as possible.
QUESTION: In spite of the fact that he promised to do this on C-SPAN?
GIBBS: I would refer you to what we talked about in this room yesterday.
QUESTION: But the President in this meeting yesterday --
GIBBS: And I addressed that --
QUESTION: -- pressed for something that's in direct violation of a promise he made during the campaign.
GIBBS: And I addressed that yesterday...
QUESTION: Well, does the President think it would be more helpful if this process were more transparent, that the American people could see --
GIBBS: Mike, how many stories do you think NBC has done on this?
QUESTION: Speaking for myself --
GIBBS: Just a guess.
QUESTION: That's not the issue. The issue is whether he broke an explicit campaign promise.
GIBBS: So the answer is --
QUESTION: I deal with the information that --
GIBBS: So the answer is hundreds, is that correct?
QUESTION: Right, but that's got nothing to do with it. I deal with the information, however much or little of it, there is. I'm saying would people benefit by having more information?
GIBBS: Have you lacked information in those hundred stories? Do you think you've reported stuff that was inaccurate based on the lack of information?
QUESTION: Democrats ran against the very sort of process that is being employed in this health care --
GIBBS: We had this discussion yesterday. I answered this yesterday. Is there anything --
QUESTION: But the President met with members of Congress in the meantime --
GIBBS: And he'll do so today.
QUESTION: -- and pressed them to --
GIBBS: Do you have another question?
Kudos to the Press Corps for pressing Gibbs on this one, but odds are they--and Americans--will never get a straight answer. This is just another case of broken campaign promises. It's the age old adage: candidate makes promise, officeholder breaks it.