On the June 22 “Good Morning America,” ABC gave a preview of what it’s “Questions for the President: Prescription for America Health Care” special on June 24 will be like: unbalanced interviews and softball questions for the administration. ABC has promised that the heavily promoted special will feature “tough questions.” But GMA’s interviews with members of Obama’s health care team weren’t what anyone could call a grilling.
“Good Morning America” was even biased in the time given to their guests. During the segment, Host Diane Sawyer spent more than five minutes interviewing Secretary of Human and Health Care Services Kathleen Sebelius, top Domestic Policy Advisor Melody Barnes, and the White House Health Czar Nancy-Ann Deparle. Co-host Robin Roberts gave about three minutes to Rep. Eric Cantor, the sole Republican and skeptic of universal health care.
Sawyer began the interview with a serious question: “Can Americans afford it?” and explained that, “we went back and checked Medicare. And in 1965 everyone was told the projected cost of Medicare over 25 years would be 12 billion dollars. And, of course, it turned out to be 107 billion dollars. And people think, ‘There’s no way – this is going to cost a lot more and that’s going to mean more taxes.’”
Sawyer then began discussing unnecessary testing done by doctors. “What percentage of American medicine, do you think, is doctors doing unnecessary test because they’re caught in some cycle of unnecessary testing?” and “Is one headline of this then is to say to Americans you will be healthier with fewer tests. Trust us. Is that what you’re saying?” But since it isn’t part of the administration’s script, she never mentioned fear of frivolous and expensive medical malpractice lawsuits are an important reason doctors order so much testing.
Sawyer soon settled down to some more comfortable chat. Under the guise of “prevention,” she quoted Dr. Mehmetz Oz’s recommendation that Americans need to walk more because that will reduce health care costs. After Sebelius gave recommendations about how to maintain a healthier lifestyle Sawyer quipped, “So my potato chips are un-American?” Sebelius assured her that eating them one day a week was okay. What a relief.
Cantor didn’t receive quite the same treatment. Roberts asked what the Republican alternative plan was and then bluntly asked, “Can you tell us how you plan to pay for it?”
Roberts also quoted a New York Times and CBS poll that found fifty-seven percent of those polled felt Democrats could improve health care, compared to seventeen percent who felt that Republicans could. She asked, “But the Democratic plan would make it illegal for insurance companies to cancel these policies … are you ready to say that the Republican plan will do that as well?”
Hopefully on Wednesday night ABC will ask President Obama some questions more in line with those the Business & Media Institute compiled about socialized medicine for the president. They didn’t cover potato chips and walking.