Back in 1992, ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings told viewers his network would skip coverage of “routine” campaign events, unless they actually contributed new information that viewers could use. In an effort to keep ABC from being used as a propaganda arm for politicians, Jennings declared “there will be less attention to staged appearances and sound bites designed exclusively for television.”
He later elaborated to the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, saying he did not want to be “‘seduced by pictures as we’ve been so easily seduced in the past. I don’t think any of us ever wants to be in the flag factory situation again,’ referring to a 1988 Bush campaign event.”
Evidently, times have changed. On Thursday’s World News, ABC anchor Diane Sawyer ran as a “news” item a White House-produced video — complete with schmaltzy background music — of President Obama taking a phone call from a cancer patient who, Sawyer informed viewers “is now able to get health insurance” thanks to ObamaCare.
“This is an honor. I want to thank you, so much,” Gail O’Brien told the President.
The video is not even new — Sawyer identified it merely as a conversation that took pace “recently,” but “today we got to listen in,” indicating that Thursday was the day the White House chose to drop this out there for sycophantic news networks to plug into their newscasts.
For the record, CBS and NBC refused to take the bait (at least on Thursday night's broadcasts).
Here’s the transcript of the brief item, which set up a story about how the new provisions would lead to higher premiums for many customers:
DIANE SAWYER: This is the day significant changes in health care insurance go into effect in America. And today we got to listen in on a phone call -- President Obama talking recently to Gail O'Brien, a cancer patient in New Hampshire who is now able to get health insurance.
PRESIDENT OBAMA [On screen: "White House video," background music playing]: Hi, Gail?
OBAMA: How are you?
GAIL O'BRIEN: I'm doing really well, thank you. This is an honor. I want to thank you, so much.