Today's Qs for O's WH - 8/12/2009

JAKE TAPPER: A couple questions. I don't know if you think it's unfair to say, but it occurs to me that if the president finds himself at a town hall meeting telling the American people that he does not want to set up a panel to kill their grandparents that perhaps, at some point, the president has lost control of the message. And I'm wondering if you -- if -- if what you've seen in the last few weeks is one of the reasons why it was so important to the president earlier this year to pass health care reform in the House and Senate before the August recess. Is everything that's going on right now what you feared would happen?

ROBERT GIBBS: No, I -- a lot of ways to take this question. I'm trying to figure out which avenue to drive down.

BILL PLANTE, CBS NEWS: You could say yes.

GIBBS: Do you just say "yes" and go to the next? That's certainly one way of doing it. (LAUGHTER) GIBBS: The -- let me sort of -- let me split these up a little bit. I think there's a tremendous amount of disinformation that's out there. We -- we've -- we've seen it.

And, look, let's be honest. You all, the media, tend to cover, "X said this, Y said this," but some of you -- but not everyone -- does an investigation about whether what X said is actually true. Now, that's not -- I'm not -- that's not a blanket statement. Not every one of you is that. TAPPER: We've called the death panels false. I don't know what more you want from us. GIBBS: Well, I don't think everybody's called them false. I think a lot of people have done stories about -- again, it's he said/she said, no pun intended, because actually she said it. I don't think there's any doubt that in some ways -- look, I -- I think some of you were disappointed yesterday that the president didn't get yelled at, sure. I don't think there's any doubt about that. REPORTER: Was he disappointed? GIBBS: I was going to yell at him just for -- just to -- just to make...


GIBBS: The president wanted to have a -- what I think what happened, which was a rational discussion about health care reform legislation. I think that's what ensued. Did everybody agree? I think the answer to that is obviously no. I think what the president said, which was important, is, let's have a conversation where we talk to one another, not over one another. Like I said, I do think there was some disappointment, because a bunch of your stories had more to do with the fact that the -- the sideshow on each side of the street outside than what was actually going on inside of the town hall. But we -- Jake, going back to the campaign, we've always thought it more important to take disinformation that anybody may have about a proposal or something that the president is trying to do and address directly that misinformation. I think that's the most important thing. Again, you know, the notion that we always expect this was going to happen, I -- I said this before. I don't think the president's ever done a town hall meeting where everybody agreed with what he was proposing or what he said. I think the president believes that the town hall meeting is a structure where people can discuss those issues in a way that they think -- the way that he believes engenders a positive discussion. I think that's what he gained yesterday. TAPPER: But is this one of the reasons he wanted it passed before the August recess? GIBBS: The president wants to get through the process of getting something to his desk because delay now simply means, as the president I think discussed very succinctly yesterday, it means -- delay means more people are going to get discriminated against on the basis of a pre-existing condition. More people are going to lose their insurance because they get too sick. More people is going to get thrown off their insurance because their employer can no longer afford to pay it. That's the reason the president wants to see this done as quickly as possible.

PLANTE: How were the applicants for tickets to the town hall meeting actually chosen? GIBBS: Randomly by computer.

TAPPER: How was it decided who got called on?

GIBBS: The president asked people to raise their hands and he picked on them.

-- jpt

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