By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 6, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A White House blog post calling on readers to report “fishy” information about health care reform to the administration has sparked outrage among lawmakers, who question Obama's definition of illegitimate information, as well as the retaliatory tactics they say are dangerously Orwellian.
In a blog post entitled “Facts are Stubborn Things,” the White House had a disparaging take on the torrents of negative information flooding Internet discussion of Obama's health care legislation.
“Scary chain emails and videos are starting to percolate on the internet, breathlessly claiming, for example, to 'uncover' the truth about the President's health insurance reform positions,” said the White House post.
“There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there,” it continued. “Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to [email protected].”
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) issued a letter to President Obama yesterday strongly condemning the directive, which he says “raises the specter of a data collection program.”
“I am not aware of any precedent for a President asking American citizens to report their fellow citizens to the White House for pure political speech that is deemed 'fishy' or otherwise inimical to the White House's political interests,” wrote Cornyn. He called on the president to cease the program, or at least detail the measures taken by the White House to protect individual citizens' privacy.
The Republican Senator also raised questions about the Obama administration's definition of “disinformation” – a problem illustrated by the video that originally sparked the controversial White House blog post.
The post retaliated primarily against a video popularized by the Drudge Report that shows President Obama and other Democrat leaders admitting support for a single-payer health insurance plan. In its own video response, The White House featured Linda Douglass – who said her job was to keep “track of all the disinformation that's out there about health-insurance reform” – pointing to the Drudge link as a “deceiving headline.”
“You know, the people who always try to scare people whenever you try to bring them health-insurance reform are at it again,” said Douglass. “And they're taking sentences and phrases out of context, and they're cobbling them together to leave a very false impression.”
But the Drudge Report quickly linked to an uncut version of President Obama's remarks, which confirmed the accuracy of the original video's message. The White House blog has not responded to the second video.
Touching ironically on the videos, Sen. Cornyn asked Obama: “Do your own past statements qualify as 'disinformation'? For example, is it 'disinformation' to note that in 2003 you said: 'I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care plan'?” (Read Cornyn's full letter here.)
Sen. John Barasso (R-WY) said the White House's message was bound to strike the wrong chord with Americans.
“If you get an e-mail from your neighbor and it doesn't sound right, send it to the White House?” said Barasso. “People, I think all across America, are going to say: 'Is this 1984'? What is happening here? Is big brother watching?”
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said the administration should “clarify” what it meant by the blog directive.
Meanwhile, recent polling data and town hall videos paint a grim picture for the abortion-promoting bill's acceptance among the public. As the Internet this week swelled with videos of citizens angry with the bill confronting their representatives, Democrat leaders scoffed at the protests, charging them with being pre-arranged by right-wing groups. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Democrat lawmakers would continue pushing the bill “in spite of the loud, shrill voices trying to interrupt town hall meetings.”
“All of this is a diversion by the people who want to, frankly, hurt President Obama,” said Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer in an appearance on MSNBC's “Hardball.” “This is all planned. It's to hurt our president and change the Congress.”
52 percent of voters disapprove of Obama's handling of healthcare, while 39 percent approve, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.
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