RNC vs ABC, Round II

RNC VS ABC, ROUND II…. If I didn’t know better, I might think the RNC and far-right activists are afraid of a substantive exploration of health care policy.

To quickly review, ABC News’ Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer will host a prime-time discussion on health care policy next week at the White House. President Obama will respond to questions about the reform effort, and the ABC anchors will give regular Americans — selected by the network, not the administration — a chance to press the president.

The RNC and a number of conservative blogs are outraged, insisting the policy forum will be an “infomercial” in support of Obama’s efforts. ABC News explained why these concerns are unfounded in a straightforward, easy-to-understand letter to the RNC, which was posted online.

But the party is still flipping out.

The Republican National Committee isn’t buying ABC News’ assurance that its day-long focus on the Obama administration’s health-care package will be unbiased.

Indeed, the RNC will open up its television studio in Washington next Wednesday — the day of ABC’s programming — and foot the bill for House and Senate Republicans to do interviews with stations in their home districts.

Greg Sargent has the full memo.

The RNC’s allies are doing their part to push the party’s message. CNBC’s Larry Kudlow told his viewers that ABC’s programming “is going to be given over to Obama, and it’s going to be in favor of Obama’s health care plan.” How does he know? He doesn’t, but Kudlow isn’t exactly truth-oriented. Meanwhile, one right-wing blogger has said ABC is now “state controlled,” while one right-wing radio host has compared the network’s policy discussion to fellatio.

I got an email the other night from a reader who asked me if I’d be annoyed if, in 2005, ABC hosted a discussion/forum on Social Security with President Bush at the White House. In truth, I wouldn’t. The analogy is imprecise — privatization was a long shot, while health care reform is still doable — but if a sitting president is pushing a sweeping policy proposal that would affect the whole country; Americans have questions about what it would mean for them; and a network wanted to explore this in detail in prime time, this hardly seems worthy of a tantrum.

I’d be annoyed if ABC hosted this Social Security discussion without challenging and/or fact-checking any of Bush’s arguments, but I wouldn’t know this until it aired.