- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 18, 2009

Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said Monday that ABC’s decision to broadcast the news from the White House could pose a problem for both the Obama administration and for ABC News.

“The problem with it is a problem of perception, and perception is reality,” Ms. Perino said on the Washington Times’ America’s Morning News radio show.

ABC has announced plans to broadcast a special on health-care reform, a one-hour prime-time town-hall type discussion, and the evening news from the White House on Wednesday, June 24.

“ABC news — who didn’t get an interview on the president’s last trip to the Middle East — was probably looking for something special and a way to pump up its ratings,” Ms. Perino said.

The network has refused to air paid ads from at least one organization opposing the White House health care plan, and also denied a request from the Republican National Committee to feature a representative from the party in the piece.

“Anchoring the news show from the Blue Room, no matter what their intention is, it will be hard not to look like they are in the tank for the Obama health care plan,” Ms. Perino said.

Not only does this format threaten the objectivity of the ABC network, it may also mean a more critical interview for the Obama White House, she said.

“ABC is going to be watched so quickly,” Ms. Perino said, “Anything that looks like they are pandering or not being tough enough will be seen as more bias and then we will have another round of stories about it.”

Ms. Perino, who now works for the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller in Washington, D.C., and as a Fox News contributor, and defines herself as “a slave to the news,” said the perception of bias is a problem all news media.

“The credibility of the entire media does hang in the balance,” she said.