When it comes to the Grand Canyon-sized distance between candidate Obama’s C-Span promises and his administration’s decidedly more aphasic approach, as Byron York writes, the White House chooses to hide the decline:
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs declined to answer questions about the president’s campaign commitment to hold health-care negotiations on C-Span. Gibbs said he had not seen a letter from C-Span’s Brian Lamb to congressional leaders requesting the coverage and thus could not comment on it.
On Wednesday, Gibbs was asked again about the C-Span commitment. The story had gotten pretty big in the intervening time, and presumably Gibbs had had a chance to familiarize himself with it. So reporters tried for a second day to get him to comment on the president’s commitment to holding televised health-care talks. Gibbs’ answer? “We covered this yesterday.” Gibbs referred reporters to the transcript of Tuesday’s briefing and said, “The answer I would give today is similar.”
But of course, he hadn’t answered the question at all. Here is the transcript from the Tuesday briefing:
QUESTION: C-Span television is requesting leaders in Congress to open up the debate to their cameras, and I know this is something that the President talked about on the campaign trail. Is this something that he supports, will be pushing for?
GIBBS: I have not seen that letter. I know the President is going to begin some discussions later today on health care in order to try to iron out the differences that remain between the House and the Senate bill and try to get something hopefully to his desk quite quickly….
Later in that same briefing, a reporter raised the C-Span issue again:
[Long transcript of Gibbs’ endless Ron Ziegler meets Joe Lockhart-style dissembling in response to multiple journalists’ questions on this topic, snipped — Ed]
And that was the end of that. If the public wants to know why President Obama didn’t keep his pledge to hold televised health-care negotiations, they’ll have to look for answers elsewhere. The White House isn’t talking.
And why should they? They’re obviously betting that the press corps won’t pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize this topic as they did President Bush on:
- Hurricane Katrina
- Abu Ghraib
- Cindy Sheehan
- The Dubai Ports Deal
- And numerous other stories and non-stories
Is that a safe bet for the Obama administration to make? Given the worshipful treatment they’ve gotten from their fellow Democrats in the MSM, probably. Or it could be Obama’s “Read My Lips” moment, even if the legacy media chooses not to awaken from its slumber.