Thursday, June 18, 2009

Obama Day on ABC

June 24th is going to be Obama Day on ABC. The network will team up with the White House to broadcast a "debate" on health care on four of their news programs: Good Morning America,” “World News,” “Primetime” and “Nightline.”

No Republicans were invited to participate, at least not any party leaders. There many be some grass roots types present in the audience at the town hall event on "Primetime", or perhaps in the audience or as pundits on the other shows. We'll have to wait and see what they dish up for us.

Politicians, media critics and even other media outlets have criticized the arrangement for being one-sided. Personally, I believe that if ABC or any other network wants to go on a full out Obama promotional campaign, they should be able to do so. My concern is that they promote it as "news". I believe that's deceptive advertising and smacks of Soviet style media. Also, while I don't believe in limiting free speech through campaign finance rules, if they are going to apply to one, they should apply to all. If the Obama administration is going to get hours of free advertising on a major network, it should come under the same scrutiny and regulation that it would for any other candidate or party.

I wont declare journalism dead, as others have. It just doesn't show up very often on the major broadcast networks anymore. If you look hard enough, you can find it elsewhere. I don't even mind entire networks being in the tank for a candidate or party, so long as their open about it. Instead of reigning in the broadcast networks, how about taking the shackles off completely? Do away with campaign finance "reform". Let the money go where it wants to go. Let everyone get their message out as far and wide as they are able. Instead of more government money for campaigns, zero government money for campaigns.

The caveats would be that although you can get as much funding as you're able from wherever you are able, you must fully disclose who and where it came from. If your network is going to support one candidate or party over another, you must clearly state such.

I don't believe that most people are so easily manipulated that they are going to change their vote or their opinion because one person or another had a poster in the right place at the right time or because a morning show host expressed his or her approval of an issue or candidate. As long as speech is free and honest and force and intimidation are kept out of the mix, Americans will get it right eventually.

As evidenced by the controversy generated over ABC's programming, this story is really more about presentation than health care. Regardless of where individuals stand on a particular issue or candidate, nobody likes to feel like they are being "played".

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