White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs raised eyebrows in the briefing room on Tuesday when he said that the president does not regret his campaign pledge to allow health care negotiations to be televised -- even as the administration is set to break that promise.
Gibbs told reporters on Tuesday that he had "not seen" (and therefore wouldn't comment on) a letter from CSPAN's CEO Brian Lamb asking congressional leaders to "open all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings, to electronic media coverage."
In subsequent comments to reporters, however, the press secretary insisted that the process of crafting health care reform has been "very similar to what the president envisioned."
In reality, of course, the negotiations have lacked the level of accountability that Obama promised during the campaign. Gibb's implication that he could not comment on a C-SPAN letter he hadn't read, meanwhile, came across like an obvious dodge.
Pressed once again about Obama's pledges to subject legislative negotiations to television cameras, Gibbs insisted that no one "would say that we haven't had a thorough, robust, now-expanding two calendar years process."
Did the president regret making that earlier promise? "No," he replied. "The president's number-one priority is getting the differences worked out, getting a bill through the House and the Senate."
Standing in the back of the briefing room was C-SPAN's Steve Scully, a somewhat irregular attendee at the daily briefing. Watching the question and answer unfold, he was caught on camera with a cringe on his face.
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