Apparently feeling some heat about its decision to not allow any Republicans to participate in its primetime ObamaCare infomercial Wednesday evening, ABC decided at the last minute to invite Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and RNC Chairman Michael Steele on Thursday's "Good Morning America."
Unfortunately, both McConnell and Steele, having been given less than 24 hours notice, were not available, and the RNC suggested "GMA" contact Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wi.), one of the GOP's leading voices on healthcare in the House.
Although Ryan was available, and did speak with Sawyer Thursday morning, the "GMA" co-host still felt the need to tell viewers McConnell and Steele declined her invitation (video embedded right):
And this morning, a Republican perspective on healthcare reform. We invited Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to join us this morning, and also the Chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele. They declined. We have a leading voice, one of the leading voices on the Republican side from the House joining us. Just minutes ago, I talked to Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
As Ryan had been referred to ABC by the RNC, and accepted the invitation, why was it necessary for Sawyer to notify viewers of McConnell and Steele's regrets?
After all, according to a representative inside McConnell's office, the Senator was to speak to the Association of Builders and Contractors this morning, and, as a result, also declined an invitation to appear on CBS's "Early Show."
As for Steele, an RNC official told NewsBusters the Chairman had two previously scheduled radio appearances Thursday morning, a breakfast with the RNC Women's Interactive Network, and then was flying to Michigan for a townhall meeting.
As such, the reason for McConnell and Steele's declines was scheduling conflicts. It goes without saying that those who participated in Wednesday evening's special were given more than fifteen hours notice.
Complicating matters further, Senate and RNC sources have told NewsBusters that ABC tried to get Politico to write a story about McConnell and Steele's invitation regrets in an apparent attempt to deflect criticism of the network's decision to not allow Republicans to participate in Wednesday night's special.
It appears that after Politico spoke to McConnell and Steele's offices, the reporter in question didn't feel a story was warranted.
In the end, despite ABC News President David Westin's claims that this special "will include a variety of perspectives coming from private individuals," no Republicans were allowed to participate.
Now, after the program has been completed, ABC is suddenly asking for GOP input, and chiding those whose schedules couldn't afford fifteen hours notice.
If ABC REALLY wanted Republican views, McConnell and Steele should have been invited on Wednesday's show. I'm sure they would have accepted the invitation if given ample notice like everybody else in attendance.