The White House's decision to offer interviews with the President to the medical doctors who are correspondents for ABC, CBS and NBC paid off Wednesday night with stories that embraced the assumption health care must be reformed; and interviews on CBS and NBC which put Obama's efforts in the best light. Ironically, ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson, a long-time advocate for government-directed universal coverage, didn't presume Obama's prescription is benign.

Anchor Katie Couric led the CBS Evening News by making the underlining case for Obama's view that government intervention is needed:
They've been talking about it for decades. President Obama says he wants it done now, as in this summer -- universal health care. As he put it today, it's time for us to buck up. And there are a lot of bucks at stake. Since 1999, health insurance premiums have increased 120 percent -- four times as much as wages. And about one and a half million American families lose their homes to foreclosure every year because of sky high medical bills. A number of proposals are making their way through the House and Senate this week.
In the subsequent story, Chip Reid did spend some time on the burden the new health care requirements would place on small businesses, before CBS played an excerpt from Dr. Jon LaPook's Obama interview in which LaPook empathized: “Mr. President, when people hear you talk about a national insurance plan, there are fears of socialized medicine, rationed care, limited choice. How do you handle this?”


ABC medical expert Dr. Tim Johnson, a fervent fan of universal health care, actually talked to the other side on Wednesday, featuring Newt Gingrich for what an onscreen graphic labeled a "debate" on the merits of a government-run program. It might seem odd for the network to tag a segment of a conservative talking to one of its journalists as a debate, but Johnson is certainly a partisan on this issue.

On June 24, he participated in ABC's White House-based, primetime town hall forum on the subject. Responding to criticism of the event from the Republican National Committee, ABC News President David Westin defended Johnson. Writing in a June 23 press release, he complained, "...I entirely reject your attack on my colleague, Dr. Timothy Johnson...His knowledge about health care reform is surpassed only by his commitment to the truth and to fairness."

However, although Johnson was civil and allowed Gingrich to make his points, a "debate" would be a good description for Wednesday's segment. Parroting White House talking points, he challenged, "Now, the President says, what he wants is a system or a field where there's level playing opportunities. The same rules and regulations would apply to the public option, as to the private insurance companies."



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:



CBS's Katie Couric and ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson tried to provide cover Thursday night for Vice President Biden's gaffe about the swine flu threat, which forced two cabinet secretaries and the White House spokesman to correct his advice to avoid planes and subways, as Couric asked an expert to confirm “that's not terrible advice in certain situations, is it?” and Johnson spun it into a positive, proposing: “In an ironic way, the reaction -- the information that has come out in reaction -- has been very informative.”

Talking with Dr. Jennifer Ashton, Couric pointed out how “the Vice President created a bit of a brouhaha when he said he would tell his family to avoid confined public spaces, but that's not terrible advice in certain situations, is it?” Ashton supported Couric's premise, suggesting “common sense precautions apply here,” so “people who have weakened immune systems, who have cancer, are HIV-positive,” if they would avoid people “a week ago, they should do it today.” But Biden was not warning just those with such vulnerabilities.

This wasn't the first time Couric helped Biden. Last year, when candidate Biden declared in a taped interview with Couric that “when the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on television,” she ran the soundbite in which he had cited FDR to denounce Bush's handling of the economy, but failed to point out his historical error: FDR was not in office at the time of the 1929 crash and his “fireside chats” were on the radio.



"Good Morning America" medical expert Dr. Tim Johnson on Friday gave ex-Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle a forum to promote his calls for a government run health care system. Co-host Robin Roberts made it clear in an introduction to the segment that there would be no discussion of the tax problems that forced Daschle to withdraw his nomination. Johnson, however, did offer softballs about what might have been. He cooed, "How hard is it for you to be sitting somewhat on the sidelines, compared to what you would have done?"

The medical doctor also agitated for quick action on a universal health care bill. Johnson extolled, "We hear constantly, if health care isn't done this year, politically, it's going to be impossible...Do you agree?" In a break from past cheerleading for government run health care, the medical expert actually asked a few challenging questions of the former Democratic senator. He asserted, "Most Americans will say they're for health care reform. But they don't want to pay any more for their health care. Or very little more. Can you have health care reform without increasing, overall, the costs for individual Americans?" Johnson also brought up Republican opposition to the legislation.

On October 19, 2007, the ABC News correspondent queried then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, "Do you think the Republicans who are against [universal health care] are immoral?" On April 26, 2007, GMA co-host Robin Roberts introduced a Johnson segment on a new congressional health care bill by Ted Kennedy. She enthused, "You’re very happy about this. You say it's bold and politically brilliant."



ABC's liberal medical editor, Dr. Tim Johnson, appeared on Wednesday's "Good Morning America to boost Barack Obama's universal health care plan and critique the more market oriented proposals of John McCain. Co-host Robin Roberts began the segment by seriously asserting, "We're not endorsing one plan over the other. We're just showing the differences between the two."

But after she mentioned Obama's assertion during Tuesday's presidential debate that health care is a right, Johnson marveled, "But, I'm struck by the language of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Without good health, and that usually means without good health care, it's hard to have those other rights." Johnson, despite being a doctor, adopts the standard, liberal positions of most journalists and has a 15 year-plus history of advocating universal health care, including once asking if Republicans who opposed the policy were "immoral."



During "Good Morning America's" respectful coverage of Ted Kennedy and the sad announcement of his cancer on Wednesday, ABC's medical expert, Dr. Tim Johnson, used the occasion to laud Kennedy's very liberal goals for reforming health care. After stating his admiration for the Massachusetts senator, Johnson fawned, "He is a true giant in the field of those of us who care about health care reform. And we want his leadership to continue."

Johnson may be a doctor, but his rigid liberalism fits right in at ABC. He has a long history of using network airwaves to back Kennedy and other liberal Democrats and their policies. On September 24 1993, he rhapsodized, "...The Clintons are almost heroes in my mind for finally facing up to the terrible problems we have with our current health care system..." On July 19, 1994, he extolled then-First Lady Hillary Clinton's plans for universal health care in an interview, saying, "So at least from the physicians represented here, you get a 100 percent vote, including mine, for universal coverage."



"Critical condition" in medical terminology means a patient has a high risk of death that could occur within the next 24 hours. So when you see "Critical Condition: Rx For America," sounds like something is in really bad shape, right?