RAPID RESPONSE KICKS INTO GEAR?…. Some conservative sites started touting a “new” video yesterday, with then-Sen. Obama telling an SEIU forum that he doesn’t think policymakers will be able to “eliminate employer coverage immediately,” but he thinks it’s possible over the next 15 to 20 years.
Naturally, Fox News and other conservatives pounced, and Drudge told major news outlets to take the video seriously. In reality, as Rachel Weiner explained, “[T]he video is cropped disingenuously. Immediately beforehand, Obama said, ‘I would hope that we could set up a system that allows those who can go through their employer to access a federal system or a state pool of some sort.’ He was talking about turning employer insurance into something more portable, not eliminating all private insurance.”
The right is not fond of context or nuance when there are still people out there who need to be misled.
Perhaps more important, though, is the way in which the White House is starting to respond to bogus media reports. White House Office of Health Reform Communications Director Linda Douglass appeared in a three-minute video, released overnight, that specifically points to the bogus allegation published by Drudge, and proceeds to set the record straight.
“You know the people who always try to scare people whenever you try to bring them health insurance reform are at it again, and they’re taking sentences and phrases out of context and they’re cobbling them together to leave a very false impression,” Douglass said, explaining that one of her responsibilities is keeping track of “all the disinformation that’s out there about health insurance reform.”
The headline at the White House blog reads, “Facts Are Stubborn Things.”
Apparently, we’ll be seeing more of this. White House Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told CNN, “We intend to use a lot of the grassroots viral Internet techniques from the campaign to beat back the campaign of misstatements and outright falsehoods about the President’s efforts to reform health insurance.”
Like it or not, the fight over reform isn’t a legislative debate, it’s a political campaign. I’m glad the White House realizes it’s time to treat it accordingly.