ABC Locates Victims of Shutdown That Hasn't Happened Yet, Pleases President Obama

An ABC report that preemptively identified possible victims of a government shutdown was so close to White House spin that Barack Obama touted it at a news conference, Wednesday. The President focused on J.T. Henderson, an American whose tax refund could be delayed, a story first highlighted on ABC, April 6.

Good Morning America's Jon Karl on Thursday proudly recounted, "President Obama saw Henderson's story on World News With Diane Sawyer and singled him out last night." An ABC graphic trumpeted, "Obama Singles Out Father: Kentucky man Counting on Refund." The President on Wednesday night quoted from Henderson on World News.

The original World News segment by Jake Tapper shamelessly featured sixth graders who have a field trip to Washington planned. One young girl lamented, "The government is mean." Karl also included this manipulative footage in his GMA report.

Henderson, Wednesday, recounted in a blog how Tapper used Twitter to look for hypothetical victims:

How It All Went Down...

On Twitter (follow me @jthenderson76), I follow Jake Tapper, who is the ABC NewsSenior White House Correspondent.  Today (at around 12:30pm), he asked his Twitter followers if they were worried that a prolonged government shutdown would delay their tax refund checks.  I responded with "In a word, YES."  Within five minutes, Tapper contacted me and asked me to email him our story and how we were dreading not getting our return.

The Media Research Center's Brent Baker noted that Tapper's piece evoked kids with cancer, Ethiopian refugees and whether zoo animals will starve.

A transcript of the April 7, 2011 Good Morning America segment can be found below:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But, let's get right to the latest on the government shutdown. Jon Karl is on Capitol Hill. And, Jon, staff have been working through the night on a possible deal. And I guess one of the most tangible signs of progress, when House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid left the White House last night, they actually spoke to the press together for the first time.

JON KARL: Yeah, absolutely. The first sign of real progress. And all sides suddenly seem aware, George, that they really don't want a government shutdown. After the meeting, signs of progress. But still, no deal.

BARACK OBAMA: I thought the meetings were frank. They were constructive. And what they did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding.

JOHN BOEHNER: We do have some honest differences. But I do think we made some progress.

HARRY REID: Not there yet. But hope lies eternal.

KARL: With time running out, we're learning more about who would be affected. First up, for 800,000 federal workers, it means staying home. Not even the FBI is excluded from that.

ROBERT MUELLER (FBI): There's a number of our persons don't know whether they will be here on Monday.


KARL: As for the troops, we learned their paychecks won't be mailed out during a shutdown. Although they will get back pay after the government reopens. As for the tax returns, if you file your return electronically, there will be no delay. But if you filed the old-fashioned way, you'll be waiting for your check. Just like J.T. Henderson of Kentucky, an adoptive dad who mailed in his return.
       
ABC GRAPHIC: Obama Singles Out Father: Kentucky man Counting on Refund

J.T. HENDERSON: It makes me feel disconnected and, like most Americans, angry and frustrated.

KARL: President Obama saw Henderson's story on World News With Diane Sawyer and singled him out last night.

BARACK OBAMA: He said he is counting on his tax rebate because his family has been scraping by. And he might not get it if the government shuts down. So, J.T. said, if he could speak to all of us directly in Washington, he would tell us that all of this political grandstanding has effects as it trickles down to normal, everyday Americans.

KARL: And there's the sixth grade class at Central Elementary in Coleraine, Massachusetts. They've been looking forward to visiting Washington D.C. on Monday.

LITTLE GIRL: The government is mean.


KARL: But now, they may be due for an entirely different kind of civics lesson, as most of the city may be shut down. Now, members of Congress and the President don't have to worry about a government shutdown, as far as their paychecks. Their checks will come regardless of whether or not the government is open for business.


   

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