- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 4, 2009

In an unusual move, the White House has posted a video on YouTube seeking to discount an independently produced video on the Drudge Report that purports to show President Obama talking in 2007 about the creation of a government-run health care system.

The three-minute video featuring Linda Douglass, communications director for the White House office of health reform, is a testament to the seismic shift in the way the public consumes news in the Internet age, and the way in which politicians are seeking to stay ahead of the curve.

The video is also an indication that a raft of new poll numbers over the last two weeks — showing increasing public concern and opposition to the president’s health care reform effort — has the White House worried.

“There are a lot of very deceiving headlines out there right now, such as this one,” Ms. Douglass says in the video, pointing at the Drudge Report headline on one of two computer monitors behind her in her White House office.

The headline says, “Uncovered Video: Obama Explains How His Health Care Plan Will Eliminate Private Insurance,” and was still posted on Drudge as of Tuesday morning. It links to a YouTube video produced by a Web site called Naked Emperor News, which shows Mr. Obama talking about health care reform in 2007 to the Service Employees International Union.

Ms. Douglass says of the Drudge headline: “Nothing could be farther from the truth.”

The Drudge video shows Mr. Obama saying in 2007: “I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There’s going to be, potentially, some transition process: I can envision a decade out, or 15 years out, or 20 years out.”

There are also clips of Democratic lawmakers linking the public option with a “single-payer” system, in which the government is the only entity that offers health insurance.

“If we get a good public option, it could lead to single-payer, and that’s the best way to reach single-payer,” says Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, shown on the video entering the National Press Club in Washington on July 27.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Illinois Democrat, is shown in April telling an audience that favors the Obama reforms that a private insurance executive told her that “a public option will put the private insurance industry out of business and lead to single-payer.”

“My single-payer friends, he was right. The man was right,” Ms. Schakowsky told the cheering crowd.

Ms. Douglass, in the White House video, blames the video on people “with a computer and a lot of free time.” She launches into what has become an increasingly common White House talking point over the last week as poll numbers on their reform effort have dropped downward.

“You know the people who always try to scare people whenever you try to bring them health-insurance reform are at it again,” Ms. Douglass says. “And theyre taking sentences and phrases out of context, and cobbling them together to leave a very false impression.”

Mr. Obama himself talked more than once last week about “misinformation” being spread by opponents of his reform.

“It’s very important for you to have the facts,” Ms. Douglass says.

But she does not specifically address the concern that a public insurance option would eventually crowd out private plans. Instead, she shows a series of recent statements by Mr. Obama that simply repeat the overall point that Americans with private insurance will not have to change plans or doctors.

“Here is a guarantee that I’ve made: if you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance,” Mr. Obama said at a town hall forum with the American Association for Retired People last week. “If you’ve got a doctor that you like, you will be able to keep that doctor. Nobody is trying to change what works in the system.”

But independent estimates from the CBO and the Lewin Group have found that millions of Americans — anywhere from 23 million under one version in the Senate to 114 million under the plan in the House — would be forced out of their current insurance plans if some of the reform ideas are adopted.

The Naked Emperor News Web site represents itself as “a Video News site.”

“We investigate news and gather video and audio evidence relevant to news stories, then present it in news videos,” says the site.

There is no information about who runs Naked Emperor News, and an e-mail to the group seeking comment was not immediately returned Tuesday morning. The site also released a video during the campaign that showed Mr. Obama talking in 2001 about the “redistribution of wealth” and “redistributive change.”

In addition to poll numbers showing concern that the Obama reforms will increase costs and reduce choice for health care, public anger has become more evident in recent days. On Sunday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Democrat, faced a loud, angry crowd in Philadelphia that at times shouted them down as they tried to explain the administration’s plan.

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