An August 4 post on the White House blog titled “Facts Are Stubborn Things” asks concerned citizens to send information on health insurance reform that “seems fishy” to a government e-mail address. The post refers specifically to “scary chain emails and videos” that seek to reveal President Obama’s true thoughts on health care and undermine reform.
The post contains a video refutation of anti-reform arguments by Director of Communications for the Office of Health Reform Linda Douglass as well as a number of videos of Obama describing his program. The post specifically cites “disinformation,” such as the assertion that Obama strives for a single-payer system.
Previously, Douglass worked as a journalist at ABC and CBS.
The following day, Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Texas) wrote a critical letter to the White House regarding the potential First Amendment infractions contained in the blog post.
“As Congress debates health care reform and other critical policy matters, citizen engagement must not be chilled by fear of government monitoring the exercise of free speech rights,” wrote Cornyn. He further noted that the names, email addresses and IP addresses of citizens may be stored in a government database.
Cornyn urges the White House to “cease this program immediately” and demands that the government not interfere in the citizen debate over health care.
Cornyn asks a number of questions of the White House, including how the information will be used and whether or not those referred to the email account will be contacted. He also directly refers to Obama’s 2003 statement that “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care plan.”
“Nobody is collecting names,” said Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Thursday. He also implied that Obama has changed his position since his 2003 comment.
“We are not compiling lists or sources of information. We may post fact checks from time to time to be sure Americans know the truth about health insurance reform,” said Douglass on Wednesday.