Clearly, the most important takeaway from ABC’s low-rated White House forum on health care was President Barack Obama’s admission that he would go outside the constraints of a nationalized system to get the “very best care” if necessary for his own family.
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey noted that Obama’s response should properly be seen as “a Michael Dukakis moment that exposed him as a hypocrite.”
A video of the exchange is at YouTube. To the extent possible, see if you think Diane Sawyer, standing next to the inquiring doctor, looks a bit peeved as the nature of his question becomes clear.
ABC’s Jake Tapper and Karen Travers understood the newsworthiness of what Obama said, and led with it in their post-forum coverage:
EXCLUSIVE: President Obama Defends Right to Choose Best Care
President Obama struggled to explain today whether his health care reform proposals would force normal Americans to make sacrifices that wealthier, more powerful people — like the president himself — wouldn’t face.
The probing questions came from two skeptical neurologists during ABC News’ special on health care reform, “Questions for the President: Prescription for America,” anchored from the White House by Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson.
Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist and researcher at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said that elites often propose health care solutions that limit options for the general public, secure in the knowledge that if they or their loves ones get sick, they will be able to afford the best care available, even if it’s not provided by insurance.
Devinsky asked the president pointedly if he would be willing to promise that he wouldn’t seek such extraordinary help for his wife or daughters if they became sick and the public plan he’s proposing limited the tests or treatment they can get.
The president refused to make such a pledge, though he allowed that if “it’s my family member, if it’s my wife, if it’s my children, if it’s my grandmother, I always want them to get the very best care.”
Hot Air’s Morrissey elaborated:
If ObamaCare isn’t good enough for Sasha, Malia, or Michelle, then it’s not good enough for America. Instead of fighting that impulse, Obama should be working to boost the private sector to encourage more care providers, less red tape and expense, and better care for everyone.
Sadly, the President is heading in the opposite direction for everybody — oh, except the self-appointed elites and filthy rich like himself.
The President’s “ObamaCare for thee, but not for me” response may, more than competitive jealousy, explain why coverage of the event at other establishment media outlets has been pretty light. You see, exposing the elitism might hurt the passage passage prospects of a “trailblazing” initiative — like the precursor known as CommonwealthCare aka RomneyCare that is failing so miserably (noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) in Massachusetts.
The post-event coverage of the forum at the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times (both site searches at 11:15 p.m. were on “Obama ABC health,” not in quotes) was limited to noting what a ratings bomb it turned out to be – despite tons of free publicity from those who objected to ABC’s unprofessional open-mic in the White House approach. The Washington Post carried a number of wire reports, but I found no original coverage beyond a “tanked on the tube” blog entry. The Post’s Howard Kurtz did do a media-angle review giving it good marks (“If that was an infomercial, someone screwed up the script”) that I believe did not appear in print. I found a Baltimore Sun review by David Zurawik (HT Media Bistro) that was pretty tough (“what we saw on ABC last night exploits and debases the notion of town hall democracy”). Overall, even in light of the crowd-out effect of other stories, this is light treatment.
At the Associated Press, the wire service’s Philip Elliott incredibly portrayed the President’s “very best care” hypocrisy as almost heroic (bold is mine):
At an ABC News town hall event on health care, a doctor asked Obama to promise that his wife and daughters would only get the services allowed under a new government insurance plan he’s proposing.
Obama wouldn’t bite.
If it was his wife, daughters or grandmother, the president said, he’d “always want them to get the very best care.”
Memo to Phil: Maybe the President didn’t “bite,” but he definitely got bitten. Fortunately for him, and unfortunately for us, the press is mostly making sure we don’t learn about the self-inflicted wound.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.