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ABC: Town Hall Wrath at ObamaCare 'Appears to Be Orchestrated'

ABC framed its Tuesday night story, on citizens using town hall forums held by Members of Congress to express opposition to ObamaCare, around undermining their credibility by asserting the reaction "appears to be orchestrated" and "organized" and thus is forcing the victimized "White House to push back" by "fighting Internet fire with fire."

After anchor Charles Gibson insisted "some of that criticism appears to be orchestrated, causing the White House to push back," reporter Jake Tapper showed some instances of "people protesting health care reform with visceral anger" and relayed how "Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett, who was shouted down before he could even speak, says there's nothing authentic about these protests." Doggett charged: "This notion of a grassroots campaign is totally and completely phony. The Republican Party has coordinated this apparent outrage and stirred it up." Tapper corroborated: "Clearly, some of it is organized." He cited how "Bob MacGuffie, a grass roots conservative activist wrote a widely circulated memo advising others at town hall meetings to put the Congressman quote, 'on the defensive with your questions and follow up.'"

Tapper did note that "one official from FreedomWorks, which is run by corporate lobbyist and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, says his group is organizing, but he says Washington ignores those real people with real emotions at their own peril."And Tapper played video of himself at the White House briefing challenging Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: "How is their organizing and getting people to come to town hall meetings to express their feelings any different from a liberal group doing the same thing?"

Tapper, however, concluded by returning to the theme of a White House battling against unfair attacks: "The White House is fighting Internet fire with fire. They've launched their own Web video in which they refute a lot of the claims being made about health care reform and say, to voters, please send us any claims that you find quote, 'fishy.'"

That would be a video on WhiteHouse.gov, about "disinformation" against Obama's efforts, narrated by Linda Douglass, Communications Director for the White House's Health Reform Office - and until just over three years ago a Washington correspondent for ABC News.

Douglass is one of the twelve listed in the July 29 posting: "Revolving Door from Journalism to Team Obama Now Up to a Dozen." Make that thirteen now.

Nothing against MacGuffie, but he's hardly a major national force able to single-handedly propel thousands of people to attend these town hall sessions with Congressmen and Senators around the country. He's a founder of a small group in Connecticut called RightPrinciples.com.

My Monday night item, "CBS Notices 'Voices of Protest' Against 'What They Call Government-Run Health Care,'" recounted:

Monday's CBS Evening News, unlike the ABC and NBC evening newscasts, found time for a story on protesters, against liberal Democratic health plans, who confronted members of Congress at forums over the weekend, though reporter Wyatt Andrews felt the need to insert "scare" quotes as he referred to "demonstrators against what they called 'government-run health care'" and "what they call 'Obama-care.'"

The story on the Tuesday, August 4 World News on ABC:

CHARLES GIBSON: Members of the House of Representatives are already back in their districts on summer recess, most holding town hall meetings to find out what's on the voters' minds, and what they're hearing is criticism over health care reform. And some of that criticism appears to be orchestrated, causing the White House to push back. Here's Jake Tapper. JAKE TAPPER: At a town hall meeting today, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer got an earful. [Man in YouTube video: "You're lying to me."] It was just the latest such episode of people protesting health care reform with visceral anger, such as the not quite brotherly love in Philadelphia over the weekend.

WOMAN AT EVEN WITH ARLEN SPECTER AND KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: You want us to believe that a government that can't even run a "cash for clunkers" program is going to run one-seventh of our U.S. economy. No.

TAPPER: One Maryland Democrat was hanged in effigy. But Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett, who was shouted down before he could even speak [crowd: "Just say no!"] says there's nothing authentic about these protests.

CONGRESSMAN LLOYD DOGGETT (D): This notion of a grassroots campaign is totally and completely phony. The Republican Party has coordinated this apparent outrage and stirred it up.

TAPPER: Clearly, some of it is organized. Bob MacGuffie, a grass roots conservative activist wrote a widely circulated memo advising others at town hall meetings to put the Congressman quote, "on the defensive with your questions and follow up." The Congressman "should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington. The goal is to rattle him. Get him off his prepared script and agenda."

BOB MacGUFFIE, GRASS ROOTS CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: They need to hear the people's voice. That's what a democracy's about.

TAPPER: One official from FreedomWorks, which is run by corporate lobbyist and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, says his group is organizing, but he says Washington ignores those real people with real emotions at their own peril.

MAX PAPPAS, VP PUBLIC POLICY, FREEDOMWORKS: Those inside the beltway need to know that you can't fake that kind of outrage outside the beltway.

TAPPER TO ROBERT GIBBS: How is their organizing and getting people to come to town hall meetings to express their feelings any different from a liberal group doing the same thing?

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS: I think what you've seen is they have, they've bragged about manufacturing to some-

TAPPER: Charlie, this is just one area where the White House is aggressively pushing back. All those town hall meetings are on YouTube, and now the White House is fighting Internet fire with fire. They've launched their own Web video in which they refute a lot of the claims being made about health care reform and say, to voters, please send us any claims that you find quote, "fishy."

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center