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Diane Sawyer interview with President Obama presents soft start for ABC's day of health care coverage



Obamaand sawyer If Diane Sawyer's interview with President Obama aired on today's Good Morning America is any indication, critics of the network's decision to devote a full day to exploring his health care initiatives may have a point. See it by clicking here; transcript is located here.

Last week, I asked whether ABC would pull its punches, given all the airtime and access they've been given by the White House. Fox News and the GOP had their own gripes, with professional hysterics such as Sean Hannity declaring ABC was going to produce an infomercial for the president's efforts (picture at right from the campaign last year).

Unfortunately, Sawyer's brief interview snippets, recorded on Tuesday, lived down to that sniping, veering from frothy questions on Obama's smoking habits -- even the president acknowledged he's been tossed that softball too often -- to substantive queries about the shape of his health care initiative.

Obamaandsawyer2 But Sawyer rarely pressed Obama when the president presented non-answers on several important issues, and failed to follow up on juicy moments. When the president admitted that his thinking has "evolved" on requiring uninsured people to participate in the government's program, Sawyer didn't push for details on what that might mean for citizens.

When the president dodged a good question about whether those who smoke or are obese will pay more -- he offered airy talk about how he and wife Michelle are encouraging kids to adopt better habits -- Sawyer didn't note that he basically answered a different question. Same with questions about whether people with current benefits will see them taxed; Sawyer didn't even ask about all the people who are projected to remain uncovered under the plans currently suggested.

One good moment: She pressed the president on his admission that Americans who like their current health care coverage could see it change if employers respond to healtgh cvare legislation by altering what they offer. 

I hope Charlie Gibson has a few fastballs up his sleeve when the discussion really gets going during ABC's 10 p.m. primetime special tonight (he's also anchoring from the White House at 6:30 p.m.). Because Sawyer's early preview looked a lot more like an infomercial than I expected.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:59pm]


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