Brian Kilmeade and Bret Baier falsely suggested that only Republicans had called the ABC health care special with President Obama an “infomercial.” In fact, numerous Fox News personalities, including Kilmeade, and the network's Fox Nation website, echoed Republicans and called the ABC special an “infomercial.”
During the June 26 broadcast of Fox News Radio's Brian and the Judge, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade and Fox News anchor Bret Baier falsely suggested that only Republicans had called a June 24 ABC health care special with President Obama an “infomercial.” Kilmeade said: "[W]ith the health care show on ABC, they feared it was going to be an infomercial; that's what the Republicans were." Baier responded: “Yeah, you know, I don't think it was the infomercial that was painted by the Republican National Committee. I think there were some tough questions in there.” In fact, numerous Fox News personalities, including Kilmeade, and the network's Fox Nation website echoed Republicans and called the ABC special an “infomercial.”
In a June 15 letter to ABC, Republican National Committee chief of staff Ken McKay expressed “concern” that the network's health care special “will become a glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat agenda.” Several Fox News hosts and contributors subsequently echoed McKay in their discussions of the ABC special:
- During the June 25 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed: “I didn't hear many hard questions of the president last night. It was -- he kind of got a pass.” He then said to Dr. Abraham Verghese, a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, “Go ahead, here's your one hour medical infomercial.” Later during the program, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. said of the special: “I think that it was somewhere between maybe a ShamWow commercial and, you know, those tapes that you buy, those Time-Life things. I mean, it was an infomercial. It was obviously an infomercial.”
- During the June 24 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy called the ABC special an “infomercial.” Later during the program, Fox News aired on-screen text that characterized the special as an “infomercial” :
- On the June 24 edition of his Fox News program, Sean Hannity said: "[A] short time from now, ABC will hand over control of its network to the Obama administration and will allow them to air an hour-long health care infomercial."
- On June 23, Hannity said that “the president gets an infomercial on ABC tomorrow.”
- During the June 23 edition of Glenn Beck, Fox News contributor and Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York referred to the special as “the big, all-day ABC health care infomercial, live from the Blue Room.” Host Glenn Beck also later referred to it as an “infomercial with ObamaCare and the White House.”
- During the June 21 edition of America's News HQ, Fox News contributor Liz Trotta claimed that “ABC pretty much ... has drawn its political lines, and we know they're for liberal Democrats and they're for the Obama administration. But this kind of charade of trying to make it look as though it's just another media event with unprecedented access is a joke.” When host Eric Shawn asked, "[I]t sounds like an infomercial?" Trotta answered: “Well, yeah. It is an infomercial.”
- During the June 18 edition of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade said of the special: “ABC News preparing to broadcast live from the White House for a prime-time special on health care. And ABC now refusing for a -- to air a paid TV ad representing the opposing conservative view when it comes to health care.” He then asked Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin, "[I]t sounds like it's going to be one big infomercial. What would -- why would ABC do this?" Malkin later said: “I think if enough people make a stink about this infomercial that there will be an incredible amount of public pressure on ABC to show some sort of questioning and challenging of ObamaCare.”
Additionally, Fox Nation has repeatedly referred to the special as an "infomercial." For example, Media Matters for America noted that a June 23 Fox Nation headline declared, ABC anchor “Diane Sawyer 'proud' of Obama Health Care Infomercial.” But in a video clip the Fox Nation included, Sawyer stated, “It is not an infomercial. ABC News does not do that.” As Media Matters noted, Sawyer told Washington Post media critic and CNN host Howard Kurtz on June 21 that the Bush administration turned down an offer for an ABC News town hall. Sawyer said: "[W]e had talked to the Bush administration, which didn't feel I think in many ways it was a forum they felt was best for them."
While Fox News hosts and guests have criticized ABC News for its special, Fox News previously had extraordinary access to former President Bush and other officials, using those opportunities to lob softball questions and provide a platform for Bush administration talking points.
In addition to Fox News hosts and contributors, conservative media figures frequently derided the ABC News special. For instance, KSFO's Lee Rodgers claimed ABC is doing a “massive” and “big whoring effort” for the “Obama socialized medicine plan” ; Rush Limbaugh Show guest host Mark Davis said “ABC is about to whore itself out” ; and Fox News political analyst and radio host Tammy Bruce said that ABC News “turned into Monica Lewinsky ... no more is it interns servicing the president, it's an entire network.”
From the June 26 broadcast of Fox News Radio's Brian and the Judge:
KILMEADE: All right, Bret, let's do a little recap of the week. First off, with the health care show on ABC, they feared it was going to be an infomercial; that's what the Republicans were. Did you take it in, number one. Number two, what -- how do you think the president did in it?
BAIER: Yeah, you know, I don't think it was the infomercial that was painted by the Republican National Committee. I think there were some tough questions in there. The problem was there weren't really any specific answers.
BAIER: There was -- it was a lot of vagueness. And there was a filibuster by President Obama. He had roughly 70 percent of that thing, and we still didn't get a lot of specific details, and that's the problem here as this bill is churning its way through the sausage-making on Capitol Hill.
From the June 25 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: Doctor Verghese, I didn't hear many hard questions of the president last night. It was -- he kind of got a pass. Go ahead, here's your one hour --
VERGHESE: You know --
DOOCY: -- medical infomercial.
VERGHESE: I think you're right. I think he really had questions that were on the one hand too easy and, sometimes, almost too technical. I think ABC probably had a problem deciding who they were pitching this to. They had a room full of experts, and yet, we kept coming back to people saying, “Will I lose my insurance?” --
VERGHESE: -- and the president having to reiterate for three, four times that, no, you'll still have your choice, but if we don't --
VERGHESE: -- do something, your choice will be more expensive.
KILMEADE: Well, we're back with Fox legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr., up at 10 o'clock Eastern time to watch the whole thing, 11 o'clock and beyond. Peter, what did you think?
JOHNSON: You know, I think that it was somewhere between maybe a ShamWow commercial and, you know, those tapes that you buy, those Time-Life things. I mean, it was an infomercial. It was obviously an infomercial. Clearly, unfortunately, ABC has now become part of the state-run media, and so, I'm sure the president is very happy today, but I think ABC should probably be embarrassed in terms of what they did.
From the June 24 edition of Fox & Friends:
GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): A lot of stuff to talk about this morning with regard to president's -- the president's press conference yesterday.
DOOCY: Yeah, in fact, we've got [Fox News contributor] Dana Perino in the green room. We talked to her just a couple of minutes ago. She's coming up to talk a little bit about this ABC infomercial that they're going to be running tonight.
From the June 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
HANNITY: Ahead in your America tonight, a short time from now, ABC will hand over control of its network to the Obama administration and will allow them to air an hour-long health care infomercial, and to make things work -- worse, the network has refused to accept some advertisement offering alternative views like this one from Conservatives for Patients' Rights.
From the June 23 edition of Hannity:
HANNITY: And we continue now with our great American panel. All right, so, the president gets an infomercial on ABC tomorrow. And Republicans said, “Give us time. We want to be a part of this,” and they were denied.
From the June 23 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
YORK: Tomorrow is the big, all-day ABC health care infomercial, live from the Blue Room. The Obama administration is brilliant at mobilizing all of its forces toward its goals.
BECK: We were just -- Byron just brought up the ABC, you know, infomercial with ObamaCare and the White House tomorrow -- yeah, yeah, yeah. It gave me an idea. I thought we'd try something -- next.
From the June 21 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ:
TROTTA: ABC pretty much has its -- has drawn its political lines, and we know they're for liberal Democrats and they're for the Obama administration. But this kind of charade of trying to make it look as though it's just another media event with unprecedented access is a joke.
SHAWN: So, you -- it sounds like an infomercial?
TROTTA: Well, yeah. It is an infomercial. Too bad -- I mean, they're going to actually broadcasting it from the Blue Room and the East Room and the South Lawn.
From the June 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
KILMEADE: ABC News preparing to broadcast live from the White House for a prime-time special on health care. And ABC now refusing for a -- to air a paid TV ad representing the opposing conservative view when it comes to health care.
Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin joins us live from Denver. Michelle, this is going to be -- it sounds like it's going to be one big infomercial. What would -- why would ABC do this?
MALKIN: Well, the “All Barack Channel” wants to help Obama as much as it can, and this is basically government-controlled stenography. They're going to sit there and nod their heads, while all of these government takeover advocates make their case for free. And it's my position that ABC really should be required to register as a federal lobbyist, because that's what they're doing.
KILMEADE: Well, you know, NBC got that wonderful tour that even The Daily Show mocked with [NBC Nightly News anchor] Brian Williams as they spent countless hours and 32 cameras to give everyone --
KILMEADE: -- a feeling of what it's like in the White House, for TV, and now this happens right on the heels of that. But ABC News says, we promise the town hall will be balanced.
MALKIN: Yeah, that's right. They promised that there would be a representation from, quote-unquote, “diverse and thoughtful points of view,” and yet, they rejected calls by conservatives to run paid ads during this infomercial, which I think gives lie to any diversity that they say they're going to represent.
KILMEADE: The director of communications is Linda Douglass, former ABC News reporter. She's now at the White House --
KILMEADE: -- Office of Health Reform. You think there's a connection there?
MALKIN: It certainly seems like it, and, of course, these conflicts of interest don't matter to the liberal media and to the -- their government masters and overlords. And I really will be very curious to see who they have who will show any appreciation for the free market and demonstrate any opposition at all to what's being planned here. If they did have a real commitment to diversity, Brian, they would put [co-anchor of ABC's 20/20] John Stossel on.
John Stossel is one of the few at the ABC News operation who has been able to voice any kind of appreciation and support and defense of the free market. I'd like to see him on the show.
KILMEADE: Now, [ABC World News anchor] Charlie Gibson will play a major role. In fact, he's doing the nightly news from there. Remember he had those tough questions for [Alaska Gov.] Sarah Palin [R]? Will he have some tough questions for Barack Obama?
MALKIN: Well, I think if enough people make a stink about this infomercial that there will be an incredible amount of public pressure on ABC to show some sort of questioning and challenging of ObamaCare. And I think that you have to look at the context here. The fact is that this plan is in trouble. And it's not just conservatives who are opposing it; there are many moderate Democrats who are questioning the ballooning costs of this plan, and that has to be incorporated if they have any credibility as a, quote-unquote, “news organization” at all.
KILMEADE: Michelle, if people want to take action, they don't want to sit by, what do they do?
MALKIN: They call Congress. It's 202-224-3121. And they get very well-versed and informed on what's actually in the plan, and they can do that by reading my site or Hot Air, going on the Internet, 'cause they're not going to get this news from ABC, that's for sure.
KILMEADE: Right. And it's just too important of an issue to take a partisan stand. It's too complicated to get a hold of or make a poster for. Michelle Malkin, thanks so much. Always great.
MALKIN: Thanks, Brian.