Consider the ref worked

CONSIDER THE REF WORKED…. One of the oddities surrounding the Republicans’ fit over the White House health care forum to be aired on ABC this week is how implausible the accusations are. To hear conservatives tell it, the event, hosted by Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson, will be the kind of pro-administration propaganda that was common on Fox News between 2001 and 2008.

It’s a silly argument for a variety of reasons, but there’s one point that’s gone largely overlooked: have GOP activists ever actually watched Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson? Have these two ever seemed like media figures carrying water for Democrats?

Take yesterday morning, for example.

A media watchdog group, Media Matters, has released an analysis of the first installment of the ABC series — a Good Morning America segment headed by Diane Sawyer — including critiques of the actual questions asked. In particular, the group draws parallels between the areas of Sawyer’s interests and how the Republican strategist Frank Luntz framed his strategy to derail health care reform.

For example, Sawyer began the segment by questioning Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius about “the public fear of a towering $1-to-2 trillion cost. Can Americans afford it?” From there, she pressed the president’s top domestic policy adviser, Melody Barnes, about the issue of “rationed care” before playing a video of Newt Gingrich warning about “government bureacrat[s]” telling the public what type of coverage it can and cannot receive.

The similarities to Luntz, Media Matters says, are obvious.

Take a look at Media Matters’ report on this from yesterday, and notice the kind of questions Sawyer raised. As a substantive matter, probably the two big policy questions of the day relate to inclusion of a public option and the merits of the co-op alternative. How many questions did Sawyer ask about these issues? Zero. Concerns from the left about reform efforts were ignored altogether, while the Luntz-written script served as the basis for practically the entire interview.

As digby explained, “This is how it’s done. The right wing stages a hissy fit accusing the so-called liberal media of being in the tank for Obama. And the so-called liberal media, which is more afraid of being called the liberal media than being seen as corporate whores, stooges or fools, bends over backwards to ensure that every right wing talking point is aired with the authority of Zeus.”