July 30, 2009
President, ABC News
77 West 66th Street
New York, New York 10023
Dear Mr. Westin,
It was reported today that you have hired Dr. Richard Besser as your new Senior Medical Editor. By now you also know Besser is a Barack Obama donor, having contributed $400 to his campaign in 2008.
As your new senior health correspondent, he will play a pivotal role in your coverage of the health care debate going forward. How in the world is this ethical?
This is a crucial issue for Americans, deciding whether or not we will allow the government to make our life and death health care decisions for us. And you have chosen to cover it with a man who has clearly already chosen sides. In fact, he's got skin in the game.
And it's not as if ABC News was up until now the paragon of unbiased reporting on the issue. Dr. Tim Johnson, who currently holds this position, has long been an advocate for government-run medicine in America, going all the way back to the early '90s, when he told then-First Lady Hillary Clinton on July 19, 1994: "So at least from the physicians represented here, you get a 100 percent vote, including mine, for universal coverage." On March 1 of this year, he said "...We're the only one that doesn't have universal coverage. That's a national shame."
The Media Research Center just released a study which found that from President Obama's inauguration through June 23, ABC has been by far the worst of the three broadcast networks in covering the health care debate, in large part because of Johnson's open advocacy for government-run medicine.
And now Besser stands ready to pick up where Johnson is leaving off.
I ask you: How in the world can anyone take ABC seriously when there is this kind of conflict-of-interest engrained in your "news" network's reporting?
L. Brent Bozell III
Founder and President
Media Research Center