ABC's Bill Weir Touts: Obama Is 'Keeping a Campaign Promise' to Air Health Care Debate on TV

Good Morning America's Bill Weir on Sunday trumpeted Barack Obama for "keeping a campaign promise" to broadcast the health care debate on C-SPAN. Counting the upcoming televised summit between Republicans and Democrats on the issue as fulfillment, Weir gushed, "...The revolution will be televised."

He extolled the event, saying, "And for the first time, live in your living room, President Obama keeping a campaign promise set up by a televised summit to try to revive health care reform." Reporter David Kerley sounded a similar note, asserting, "With health care reform on life support, the President hopes to save his efforts with the transparency he promised as a candidate."

Of course, Barack Obama's promise was not that health care would be discussed on TV in vague terms, several months into the process. He pledged that the negotiations for the formation of the legislation would be broadcast on C-SPAN.

Kerley admitted as much when he allowed, "Finally, nearly a year into the debate, C-SPAN will be there. This week, five hours of live televised coverage of Mr. Obama's health care summit." So how is that a promise kept?

In order to dismiss Republican concerns that Thursday's summit is a trap, Kerley noted, "Even when first invited, Republicans were wary- as noted on The Daily Show." He then played a clip of host Jon Stewart mocking, "It's an ingenious trap. Asking Republicans to publicly state their beliefs on health care so that the President may respond. On camera."

Playing up the idea that the Republicans are the "party of no," an idea pushed by Democrats and the White House, Kerley spun the GOP reaction to the summit this way: "The Republicans are not signaling that they're ready to do anything but attend that seminar." 

A transcript of the February 21 segment, which aired at 8:03am EST, follows:

BILL WEIR: This morning, the revolution will be televised. Congress gears up for the next stage of the health care debate and it will all play out on national TV. Live and uncensored. But, will transparency lead to actual reform?

8:03

WEIR: But, we begin this morning with that health care debate, which will be front and center once again in Washington this week. And for the first time, live in your living room, President Obama keeping a campaign promise set up by a televised summit to try to revive health care reform. It's a high stakes strategy and David Kerley has more from the White House this morning. David?

ABC GRAPHIC: Live and Uncensored: Health Care Debate on TV

DAVID KERLEY: Good morning, Bill. For months, the President's been criticized for not providing his own plan for health care, for not being transparent. Well, that does all change this week. The President's coming up with his own plan and then he will sit down in front of cameras with supporters and his opponents. With health care reform on life support, the President hopes to save his efforts with the transparency he promised as a candidate.

BARACK OBAMA: We'll do it on C-SPAN. We'll do it in a transparent way so that you're enlisting the American people to be involved in the process.

KERLEY: Finally, nearly a year into the debate, C-SPAN will be there. This week, five hours of live televised coverage of Mr. Obama's health care summit. Republican and Democrats. Rock 'em and sock 'em politics.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK (media correspondent, NPR): Republicans could have said this is a sham and political theater and not taken part. However, it would have allowed the president to point to them as the party of no.

KERLEY: The President starts his efforts in the coming hours by posting his plan on the web, a combination of the two bills past in Congress.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: -Is passed.

KERLEY: And a small gift for the opposition. For the first time, the President is expressing outright support for two Republican proposals. Allowing Americans to buy insurance across state lines. And letting small businesses pool together to buy insurance.

OBAMA: I think both of these are good ideas, so long as we pursue them in a way that protects benefits, protects patients, and protects the American people.

KERLEY: Some fear that it will only lead to Democrats and Republicans hardening their positions. Even when first invited, Republicans were wary. As noted on the Daily Show.

[Daily Show clip]

DICK MORRIS: He hopes to set a trap.

UNIDENTIFIED: And, of course, this is a trap.

MONICA CROWLEY: You know, a trap.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: Nothing more than a trap.

STAR WARS CHARACTER: It's a trap!

JON STEWART: Senator Ackbar is right! It's an ingenious trap. Asking Republicans to publicly state their beliefs on health care so that the President may respond. On camera.

FOLKENFLIK: There's no question but that this is as much stage craft as statesmanship. But, by the same token, you know, something serious could ensue.

KERLEY: The Republicans are not signaling that they're ready to do anything but attend that seminar. They want to scrap the entire reform effort, start from scratch. So far, that's an option, Bill, that the President is not willing to entertain. Bill?

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org