ABC News announced on Monday that Dr. Tim Johnson, a longtime advocate for government-run health care, will be participating in a primetime special on the subject, airing on June 24 and being broadcast from the White House. The doctor, who has aggressively lobbied in support of universal health care for over 15 years, will also appear on that day's Good Morning America, a show that will feature Diane Sawyer's interview with Barack Obama.
This is the same Johnson, who, on July 19, 1994, talked to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton about a similar health care plan. He gushed, "So at least from the physicians represented here, you get a 100 percent vote, including mine, for universal coverage." On October 19, 2007, he spoke to Clinton again and noted that she considered the issue a moral one. "Do you think the Republicans who are against it are immoral," he wondered. A selection of some of Johnson's more biased health care-related comments can be found below:
# "I say the Clintons are almost heroes in my mind for finally facing up to the terrible problems we have with our current health care system and bringing it to the attention of the public....Most people, I think, will be better off." -- ABC Medical Editor Dr. Tim Johnson, September 24, 1993 20/20.
# "Everyone is applauding, I think, in the health care community, the emphasis on universal access, because they know that unless they're going to let some people just die in the streets, it makes sense to get medical care early, when it's going to be more effective and less costly....the insurance companies are the focal point for the dynamics of denial that are part of our present for-profit system." -- ABC medical editor Dr. Tim Johnson, January 26, 1994 World News Tonight.
# "So at least from the physicians represented here, you get a 100 percent vote, including mine, for universal coverage." -- ABC reporter Dr. Tim Johnson to Hillary Clinton on Good Morning America, July 19, 1994.
For more, see the October 21, 2003 CyberAlert.
According to TV Newser, network anchors Sawyer and Charles Gibson will be moderating the program, entitled "Questions for the President: Prescription for America." It will originate from the East Room of the White House and feature President Obama.
Sawyer's show, Good Morning America, has a similar record when it comes to such televised public events. In 2007, GMA devoted 64 minutes towards town hall-style discussions with presidential candidates, all Democrats. On March 26, 2007, Sawyer's GMA co-host, Robin Roberts, moderated such an event with Clinton. Again, the issue was health care. The "town hall" show featured a plant from the audience, a member of Clinton's 1993 health care task force. Reading from a card, he asked this stilted question:
ROBIN ROBERTS: What you said then in, in ‘93, many people felt it was just, in some ways, ahead of its, ahead of its time. Somebody that was there, and wants to ask you what is different now, between what happened then, and he is Dr. Steve Eckstat. He is, he works at the free clinic of Iowa. Doctor?
DR. STEVE ECKSTAT: Morning. In 1993, I was a member of the Clinton Health Care Task Force when we were attempting to provide universal health care coverage of all Americans. We were unsuccessful, unsuccessful then and now the number of uninsured, 80 percent of whom are working families and individuals, has risen from 23 million in 1993 to over 46 million. If elected president, Senator Clinton, would you be willing to try again to provide universal health care coverage for all Americans and make that at priority for your administration?
Is there any reason to believe that ABC's upcoming special will be more balanced on this important topic?