August 4th, 2009
11:15 AM ET
9 years ago

White House launches counteroffensive over Drudge Report link

Douglass heads communication efforts for the White House health care reform push.

Douglass heads communication efforts for the White House health care reform push.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - New president, old headline: the White House fired back at the Drudge Report Tuesday, part of a fresh "viral" pushback over what it called a "campaign of misstatements and outright falsehoods" on health care.

In a three-minute video posted on YouTube and on the White House blog, Obama aides pointed to a 2007 video on blogger Andrew Breitbart's site that Matt Drudge linked to under a headline that told readers it showed President Obama explaining "How His Health Care Plan Will 'Eliminate' Private Insurance."

"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," Obama says in the bite.

In the White House video posted overnight, Linda Douglass - the former ABC News reporter who now heads communications efforts for the White House's health care push - tells viewers that "one of [her] jobs is to keep track of all the disinformation that's out there about health insurance reform.

"And there are a lot of very deceiving headlines out there right now, such as this one - take a look at this one," she says, pointing to the Drudge headline.

(Updated after the jump Tuesday afternoon with Drudge response)

"Well, nothing can be farther from the truth. You know the people who always try to scare people whenever you try to bring them health insurance reform are at it again, and they're taking sentences and phrases out of context and they're cobbling them together to leave a very false impression."

Because Obama has spoken so much about health care reform, she says, "there are people out there with a computer and a lot of free time, and they take a phrase here and there, they simply cherry pick and put it together and make it sound like he's saying something that he didn't really say."

The video is part of a larger White House effort. "We intend to use a lot of the grassroots viral Internet techniques from the campaign to beat back the campaign of misstatements and outright falsehoods about the President's efforts to reform health insurance," said White House deputy communications director Dan Pfeiffer.

The clip was no longer on the Drudge Report Tuesday morning. The only references to Obama were headlines related to and posted under the image of a poster that depicted the president as the Joker from Batman over the word "socialism."

UPDATE: The Drudge Report responded Tuesday by prominently linking to the White House blog post from his Web site, along with video which it said showed Obama advocating a single payer health care plan.

Filed under: Health care • White House
soundoff (326 Responses)
  1. Mississippi Mike

    So the federal government is throwing resources at combating the Drudge Report? You'd think that there were important things to do. It's hard to believe that Obama's administration is so sensitive to criticism that they are trying to discredit a blog called the Drudge Report. What's next, an all-out attack on Facebook?

    August 4, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  2. Nancy - Houston

    It seems that in 1993 when Clinton was trying to reform health care, we were paying 9 billion a year, and now it is 1.5 trillion. It's way past time to change that. We all know about those politicians who like the status quo and their special interests perks. We also are seeing how it is not only the Party of NO, it's the Party of Noooooooooooooooooooooo!!

    August 4, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  3. S Callahan

    Scary...but I'd like to hear the whole conversation before forming a real opinion on this....another promotion for UTube.

    August 4, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  4. Robert Minichino

    So the white house claims deception and they intend to fire back with more deception?

    August 4, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  5. Kelby In Houston, TX

    It's a shame that this is even necessary. It's a shame that so many have been persuaded to vote against their own interest. It's a shame that Insurance lobbyists and Big Pharma have more influence with our elected officials than We The People who elected them.
    While we breathe we hope and in spite of the naysayer's biquitous chorus of dissonance, I believe that we can win this battle. I believe we outnumber them. But more importantly, I believe in you and me. Let us all work together as constituents and get our elected officials to enact the will of the people.
    God Bless you, and God Bless The United States of America

    August 4, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  6. John Warner

    I agree the Whitehouse is using a "campign of misstatements and outright falsehood" to further their agenda.

    August 4, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. Dan, TX

    The conservatives know that older people wiill believe their lies. That's why they send out the mass emails about how democrats want to kill old people to keep health care costs down. Can you imagine that people are willing to put common sense aside and be taken in by this. Don't comment on the health care bill until you've read it. There are several versions of the bill, so I suggest reading the energy and commerce House version. There was an email with a list of points out of that bill and lies and mistatements about what the bill said. I have great health insurance for only $1000 a month. But I'd like to have a government option – I would probably keep my private insurance, but I'd like more choices.

    August 4, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  8. Bob in Pa

    So now we are just calling it Health Insurance reform, not health crae reform. Lets spin it to sound like we are only going after those big nasty Insurance companies. Their draft legislation deals with more than just insurance. Don't be fooled, don't listen to either side in Washington, read up on it for yourself and be informed.

    August 4, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  9. Randolph Carter

    Healthcare limerick:

    There once was a fellow named Boehner
    Who'd do anything for a donor
    I'm willing to bet
    He's sombody's pet
    And the insurance firms are his owner

    Have a nice day!

    August 4, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  10. John Lawrence

    Obama is the one who is trying to sell us a bill of goods on health care reform. His plan is neither health, nor care nor reform. It will destroy our first class health care system: ration care, tax us to death, still create huge deficits and stress resources beyond capacity with much more demand for services. He is more than a joker – he is a nightmare. The Obama presidency is nothing short of a national catastrophe! Make no mistake about it. If his health care plan passes, the vast majority of people supporting it who have no understanding of where it will lead, will soon repent in sack cloth and ashes once they are living with it. You simply need to read the bill to understand very quickly that this is neither something we need nor want ... more government intrustion into our personal lives and most private decisions.

    August 4, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  11. machtim akannah

    It is all too simple. Just say what the bill is and or is not. Generalities which can later be interpreted by lawyers will be the excuse for any changes the administration wishes in the future, Obama stated that there will be no tax on the middle class. Now define the middle class. The hypocrisy is that if the bill is so good, why isn't Congress participating in the "benefits" of the bill and giving up their current coverage. Could it be that the benefits are just not that good? A bulletized chart based upon family income stating the cost payout and listing the coverage without parenthetical exclusions would help us all to make an evaluation of the bill. The trillion dollar cost protection is politcal speak for "who knows the real impact". Let me evaluate based upon my income. That I can understand. And as to comments about misinformation, BOTH sides are guilty and pushing their own selfish agendas. It is difficult to trust anyone. Geithner and Summers are at odds with Obama regarding the future. Well, Geithner doesn't pay is fair share anyway.

    August 4, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  12. Nebraska Democrat

    I congratulate the White House on its efforts to fight the War on Stupidity. I hope Linda, her staff, and others within the administration can keep honesty in their communications and other efforts as well. Think Walter Cronkite. Aspire to his ethic. And not just the White House, but also the Drudge Report and others of their ilk.

    August 4, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  13. John

    there's no question in my mind that Obama wants to eliminate the private sector and make the successful and hardworking americans pay for the lazy and unmotivated......

    from the cradle to the grave..... the nanny state is coming....

    the framers of our constitution did not intend for government to nanny its citizens throughout their life......

    Obama is killing the spirit of this great country.....

    August 4, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. Gerald

    No matter how the white spins it Obama still said it ,just like the very telling Gates comments. i see a trend here in this administration ,you can only believe what is said today , tomorrow it may be a lie but today it is fact. I suppose next they will try to blame this on Bush also regardless of the fact democrats have controlled congress since 2006

    August 4, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  15. Rita

    The Drudgereport article regarding Obama's words have NOT been removed AND the government rebuttal is there as well...

    The healthcare plan is a pig no matter what kind of dress Obama tries to put on it.

    America is waking up...we will be ignored no longer! No socialized healthcare!

    August 4, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  16. Steve, Columbia SC

    The president's plans are obvious, no matter what high paid communications person is there doing collateral damage. We now know that they want more taxes to pay for it, and who is wealthy and who is middle class will suddenly be redefined by this tax-and-spend administration to suit its purposes.

    Mr President, we are not interested in what you or the Congress are selling.

    August 4, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  17. Flex

    I feel terrible for the greedy private insurance carriers. They've excluded everyone who needs their coverage, or made customers pay a monthly rate that they couldn't afford.

    The counter government program will be a raging success. Everyone will revolt against the arrogant, fat, health insurance carriers, and sign up for the government program.

    The private insurance companies will be forced to evolve, or die!

    August 4, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  18. Lauren from Tallahassee, FL

    good move for the White House.

    There is a lot of false information out there and we can't wait any longer to reform our health care system. One, we will never get out of debt if we don't., and two, there is no need for so many Americans to not have insurance; it's disgraceful and being treated if you're sick is not a responsibility, it's a right. It should not matter how much money you have.

    August 4, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  19. bud in NC

    Here is the party of "values" (Republicans) Lying, lying lying. Their value is to lie often enough and boldly enough, so that enough ignorant or biased people will believe it and pass it along.
    Oh my. Truth has a long uphill battle. I sometimes worry about this nation. Hate and ignorance is so powerful.

    August 4, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  20. reese

    I trust CNN to give me the truth about this story and I've seen with my own eyes the two-sides of Obama on this issue. I'm no Drudge reader, and it doesn't take an enemy of the Obama health policy to give me insight, I've seen what our government has done to Medicare, prescription drug campaigns and "cash-for-clunkers," I hardly have confidence in it's ability to take care of my health. I'm with you on blaming Bush for some of our problems but since Obama and the "old-guard," have taken office they have continued to spend the taxpayer money chasing political favors, just like the administrations before - as a citizen and a voter, we've got to say NO to more spending on failed government programs! Get rid of the old-guard that keeps us in debt!

    August 4, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  21. marvin in SA

    The video clearly shows Obama talking about private health insurance companies being eliminated and everyone thus on public government health care.

    How does Obama's aide think this helps him?

    August 4, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  22. Dave C - NJ

    Bring it on. Those tactics won't work anymore...people that have a clue have picked up the habit of doing the research. Snopes, wiki, etc.

    The only people that buy into commentary on Drudge, or Fox for that matter have already made up their minds and don't do any homework. So let them call names like socialist and muslim all they want.

    Same rules apply to children: if someone is calling you names it doesn't make it true.

    August 4, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  23. Emma

    It is time we fight the planned misinformation surrounding health care. It infuriates me that Americans are so gullible and will buy anything that is sold.

    You would think the older we get the smarter we become but it doesn't seem that way when the Republicans and the Drudge Report can openly misstate truth. Wake up America before you are sold another bridge to nowhere!

    August 4, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  24. James

    I don't know why Matt Drodge is so in the tank for private health insurance companies. The most successful health insurance plan in America is Medicare. Elderly like it. It has a robust cost control system. You can't lose it if you get sick. You can pick your own doctor. Coverage policy is grounded on the scientific input of the AMA using the latest science. Lastly, it covers everyone.

    Guess who runs it????

    August 4, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  25. Rebecca

    Misinformation?! Are kidding me. What do you really take me for?
    These were words right from the horse's mouth . . they weren't randomly put together! The only misinformation here is coming straight from the White House. American's are not cattle that you can lead blindly to slaughter, we think, we gather the facts and we make our own decisions.
    We are able to handle the truth, but what we don't like are lies. Especially White House Lies.

    August 4, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
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