CBS Correspondent Ben Tracy interviewed me for about three minutes yesterday on the topic of the grassroots nature of Town Hall Health Care Takeover protests.
Mr. Tracy's four minute report, "Town Hall Outrage Tied to GOP", ran on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric last night (Wednesday, August 12), and it included a seven second clip of my three minute interview. You can watch the full four minute clip here.
Most disturbingly, my seven seconds were followed by two factoids that implied the town hall protests against the Health Care Takeover Bill were orchestrated by some secret, well funded conservative cabal. I had debunked these factoids in my full interview, but Ms. Couric and Mr. Tracy chose not to include my remarks in their full report, because my remarks did not support their false narrative.
Indeed, the CBS News website contained the following subtitle to describe the clip:
"The outbursts at town hall meetings are supposedly spontaneous. But Ben Tracy reports there are indications these tirades are closely organized events by conservative groups."
Here's Mr. Tracy's set up comment and my seven second clip from the report as it aired:
TRACY: Those fighting the health care bill contend the outrage is not organized.
LEAHY: "It's a million or so independent individual voices exercising their right to free speech," said Michael Patrick Leahy of the National Tea Party Coalition.
Here are the two factoids that came next in Mr. Tracy's report:
TRACY: (1) Yet websites such as Recess Rally which is planning a nationwide health care protest, lists Freedom Works as part of its coalition. That's an organization headed by former Republican Congressman Dick Armey, whose lobbying firm works for the health care industry.
(2) Also, a conservative group in Connecticut posted an online memo called "Rocking the Town Halls." The playbook outlines tactics to give congressmen, "a reality check from we the people." The memo advises to "watch for an opportunity to yell out … the goal is to rattle him."
In the parts of my interview which Mr. Tracy and Ms. Couric chose to delete from the final broadcast, I easily debunked these factoids:
1. Freedom Works is one of about a dozen loosely knit groups supporting the nationwide Recess Rally to be held to voice opposition to the Health Care Takeover bill at noon local time on Saturday, August 22 at the local offices of the 435 members of the House of Representatives. The heavy lifting on all the local protests, as well as the planned Recess Rally, is being done independently by millions of individual Americans around the country. The listing of an organization on the Recess Rally web site means one thing: the group supports the goals of the event.
2. The "nefarious" Connecticut based website is a completely insignificant group within the grassroots movement to oppose the Health Care Takeover. It's just a few people. Their Facebook profile has a grand total of 5 Facebook friends.
Mr. Tracy then relied upon the assertions of a pro Health Care Takeover protester to hang his hat on the shiboleth that the Republican Party is sending out marching orders to the Health Care opponent protesters:
HEALTH CARE TAKEOVER SUPPORTER:"It seems like the Republicans have all these talking points that have been delivered through Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, and Sean Hannity, that's not true," said Pepper Mashay.
TRACY: Democrats are now trying to play defense by sending out health care fact check cards to supporters with their own talking points.
Here's the other part of my three minute interview that hit the CBS cutting room floor:
1. These protests are simply a nationwide self organizing project involving millions of independently acting Americans.
2. The only wealthy group or individual who is funding protesters at town hall meetings is George Soros, who just put $5 million into pro Health Care Takeover astroturfing efforts.
If the executives at CBS are wondering why their evening news ratings are in the tank, here's a clue:
People don't trust the integrity of the information that your reporters and your anchor Katie Couric present on the CBS Evening News every night.
I wish we could get the GOP in front of such a massive grassroots effort. Unfortunately there are not enough "coordinators" in the GOP that could pull something like this off. I highly doubt that those speaking their minds at those town halls are "Rush Limbaugh" followers. They appear to have a genuine concern about this bill, and you can tell that this is the first time any of them have been in front of a mic. It is not feasible that an organization drained of cash and mainstream support (GOP) could pull something off like this and the DNC knows it.
The GOP does have loads to learn from this on how to deliver a credible, substantive and vocal challenge to those on the left. Take notes boys, I feel this will be a long slug fest.
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