What a difference a few hours makes. On the July 15 “World News with Charles Gibson,” ABC medical expert Dr. Tim Johnson interviewed President Obama about his healthcare reform proposals and grilled the president over the cost of the bill, benefits, and primary care. But by the next morning Johnson was back to form, parroting the administration’s line on “Good Morning America.” Johnson often cheerleads for the Obama administration and socialized medicine.
Introducing Johnson, Robin Roberts said, “Tim, President Obama and others, they keep saying, that in the long run, we're going to save money while expanding coverage. As you know, many are skeptical about that statement.”
Roberts didn’t name those skeptics or their specific criticism and Johnson steered away dissent. “Well I think the one thing Obama would say for sure, is that if we do nothing, the dramatic increase in costs that we are now having every year will continue unabated. So what he hopes is that we will slow down at least that increase in costs. And, of course, one of the keys to his program, in terms of slowing down costs, is to increase primary care. I'm one of those who believes you will never control costs or improve quality without expanded primary care, meaning the kinds of doctors and physician assistants and nurse practitioners that you can go to when you're first sick. They're the ones who can deliver most of the care in low-cost fashion, who can decide when you really need certain tests or specialists. And so he's really pushing hard on increasing primary care to help control costs.”
Asked by Roberts about Obama’s statement that the health care plan won’t be in effect until 2013, Johnson simply plugged Obama’s positions. “He was referring very specifically at that point to this primary care program. But since that's absolutely essential to his entire program, that is a bit surprising. But when you stop and think about it, it probably will take four years to get electronic records in place, to get all the expanded numbers of primary care doctors that he wants and to get it all working in a rather smooth fashion. So it's not going to happen overnight. And that's what he was trying to tell us.”
Robert Gibbs couldn’t have said it better himself.
Johnson did a good job interviewing the president the previous evening, but he’s clearly more comfortable as a mouthpiece than as a journalist.