The Washington Times - August 4, 2009, 11:00AM

The conservative grass roots is not going to be happy with Robert Gibbs’ characterization of their health care protests as “manufactured anger.” Here is my story on this. And here is a transcript of our exchange that prompted his statement Tuesday morning.

The first two questions are from a separate reporter and then the rest are my questions.


Q: Are you concerned at what appears to be well-orchestrated protesting of health care reform at town halls as derailing your message?

GIBBS: NO, I get asked every day about the myriad of things that could be derailing our message. I would point out that I don’t know what all those guys were doing, what were they called, the brooks brothers brigade in florida in 2000, appear to have rented a similar bus and are appearing together at town hall meetings throughout the country

Q: They seem to be pretty widespread.

GIBBS: I seem to see some commonality in who pops up in some of these things.

Q: Like individuals?

GIBBS: Yeah.

Q: Really?

GIBBS: Yeah.

Q: Can you discuss names or ….

GIBBS: I don’t have names but I think you can see quite a bit of similarity between who shows up where.

Q: What was the thinking behind responding to the Drudge Report?

GIBBS: Well, as we’ve discussed in the briefing room, there’s a tremendous amount of misinformation floating around on health care. We thought it was important to make sure that we answered the misinformation. I think one of the things that we learned, certainly on the campaign was, that in the absence of other information, you don’t want people to believe what is knowingly untrue. So we’re trying to change that.

Q: Robert, if these town halls are even being influenced by, whatever, a cabal or individuals, how problematic is that for you guys to try to your message out? Even if the premise that it is unfair is correct, it’s still going to shape the way these town halls are viewed throughout the country.

GIBBS: Well, you know, look, I hope people will take a jaundiced eye to what is clearly the Astro Turf nature of so-called grassroots lobbying—

Q: The grassroots what?

GIBBS: The Astro Turf nature of grassroots lobbying, which is largely the term for, you know, this is manufactured anger.

— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times

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