The Obama administration and Democratic officials have begun a major escalation in their battle against opponents of the party's healthcare legislation in Congress, according to senior White House officials. "We live in an environment where people see information from a lot of different sources and they see a lot of misinformation," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told U.S. News. "When you see misinformation pop up, you've got to address it or risk having people believe what is not true."
White House officials say Obama's adversaries are using distortion, deception, and intimidation in an effort to scare key constituencies, including the elderly, into opposing Democratic legislation on healthcare. Yesterday, the White House posted a video response to what Obama advisers say were erroneous accounts on the Drudge Report website that Obama favors ending private health insurance and is eager to impose a government-controlled system.
Gibbs and Democratic National Committee spokesmen Brad Woodhouse also said angry citizens at town-hall meetings of Democratic members of Congress were actually set up by GOP operatives and conservative groups. Gibbs told U.S. News that many of the angry confrontations were "manufactured" by Obama opponents. Woodhouse told reporters there were "angry mobs being directed by Republican operatives in Washington to disrupt events throughout the month of August."
This morning, the DNC sent reporters an E-mail aimed at DNC members from Jen O'Malley Dillon, the party's executive director, that said, "These 'grassroots protests' are being organized and largely paid for by Washington special interests and insurance companies who are desperate to block reform. They're trying to use lies and fear to break the president and his agenda for change."
The DNC and other party organizations also are sending E-mails to party members urging them to attend Democratic events to show solidarity. For example, such an E-mail went out to Michigan Democrats to attend a speech by Vice President Joe Biden scheduled for today in Detroit. White House officials say they will establish a website specifically to shoot down rumors and distortions—a tactic they used in last year's campaign via Obama's campaign website. The false information has included claims that Obama's health-care plan would eliminate private insurance and allow sick elderly people to die, according to Democratic strategists.
-See photos of Obama behind the scenes.