CNBC's Larry Kudlow claimed that "ABC is going to give up all their programming" to President Obama "to help sell health care reform," but ABC says it will "giv[e] voice to questions and criticisms" of Obama's plan.
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On the June 16 edition of CNBC's The Kudlow Report, host Larry Kudlow claimed that "ABC is going to give up all their programming" to President Obama "to help sell health care reform," and later asserted: "This is so troublesome. June 24, the whole night, programming on ABC is going to be given over to Obama, and it's going to be in favor of Obama's health care plan. ... The media is too easy on him." Kudlow did not acknowledge that ABC News disputes this charge. In a letter posted on ABCNews.com earlier on June 16, ABC News senior vice president Kerry Smith responded to the Republican National Committee's criticism of ABC's planned broadcast, writing that ABC will give "voice to questions and criticisms" of Obama's plan and that "ABC News is looking for the most thoughtful and diverse voices on this issue."
From Smith's June 16 letter:
ABC News announced plans to broadcast a primetime hour from the White House devoted to exploring and probing the President's position and giving voice to questions and criticisms of that position. We hope that any American concerned about health care will find our efforts to be informative, fair and civil.
Second, ABC News prides itself on covering all sides of important issues and asking direct questions of all newsmakers -- of all political persuasions -- even when others have taken a more partisan approach and even in the face of criticism from extremes on both ends of the political spectrum. ABC News is looking for the most thoughtful and diverse voices on this issue. ABC News alone will select those who will be in the audience asking questions of the president. Like any programs we broadcast, ABC News will have complete editorial control. To suggest otherwise is quite unfair to both our journalists and our audience.
Third, there already has been extensive coverage of the upcoming health care debates, on ABC and elsewhere, and there will be much, much more. Indeed, we've already had many critics of the President's health care proposals on the air - and that's before a real plan has even been put before the country.
In the end, no one watching, listening to, or reading ABC News will lack for an understanding of all sides of these important questions.
Smith's statement was in response to a letter RNC chief of staff Ken McKay reportedly sent to ABC News president David Westin, asserting that "the Republican National Committee requested an opportunity to add our Party's views to those of the President's to ensure that all sides of the health care reform debate are presented. Our request was rejected. ... In the absence of opposition, I am concerned this event will become a glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat agenda."
From the June 16 edition of CNBC's The Kudlow Report:
KUDLOW: We're also going to hear a little bit about the kind of media Mr. Obama is getting. He lashes out at Fox, but he fails to mention that ABC is going to give up all their programming to help sell health care reform with no Republican rebuttal. I find that rather interesting and somewhat unbelievable.
KUDLOW: John, I just want to say something. I thought you asked some really great questions in this interview, including that last one, and I'm going to back-step to the risk reward one in a minute. But, look, John, one of the things that disturbed me.
OK, Obama dodges your question by attacking Fox. OK, fine. But he doesn't mention ABC. This is so troublesome. June 24, the whole night, programming on ABC is going to be given over to Obama, and it's going to be in favor of Obama's health care plan. And the Republican National Committee has asked for equal time. They've been rejected. Groups opposed to Obama's health care plan have asked for equal time and have been rejected. I think you're right. The media is too easy on him, John.
JOHN HARWOOD (CNBC chief Washington correspondent): Well, look, this is a discussion that's going to go on. And one of the questions is, is the president simply more skillful than past presidents in using the access that the White House can provide to get the kind of coverage he wants, or is it a press problem? And, you know, it could be a little bit of both; it could be neither.