Grandma’s Safe: Health care and yesterday’s N.H. town hall — surprise, surprise — stole the spotlight at today’s briefing. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked whether POTUS’s having to explain that the government wouldn’t kill Grandma was a sign that it was important to move a bill by the original August deadline. RG, at first unsure how to answer, was prompted by CBS’s Bill Plante to just say yes. “That’s certainly one way to do it,” Gibbs laughed. He would go on to repeatedly address the “tremendous amount of disinformation” in the debate and lambaste the media for a tendency to “cover x says this, y said this.” (This reporter is currently resisting the temptation to hereafter refer to Gibbs as X and press as Y, just for kicks.) Asked later to name which groups were responsible for disinformation, Gibbs started with “certain elected officials.” When pressed, he named “Sarah Palin… that’s one.” The reporter poignantly observed that the AK guv is no longer in office. “Fair enough,” RG conceded.
Yell At Me! Yes, Me! Over Here!: Popular Specter and McCaskill town hall clips — among others — drew a sharp contrast from the campaign-rally-style town hall POTUS ran yesterday, and reporters asked Gibbs to do some ‘splaining. NYT’s Sheryl Stolberg wondered whether BO was disappointed he wasn’t yelled at (amid rumors the WH really did want an opportunity to talk down a louder town haller), but RG demurred, saying they wanted a “rational discussion” and that’s what they got. “I’m sensing your disappointment that he didn’t get yelled at,” he scolded, deriding the “food fight on cable every day” and asking reporters to “take one of these concerns and address its factualness.” NBC’s Savannah Guthrie quizzed Gibbs on the ticket distribution, noting that while Congressional offices doled out some tix, no Republican legislators were included; should/will they be? “I think the president feels very comfortable… that he’s having a representative discussion,” RG said.
Tweaking the Boss: In a different kind of fight against disinformation, Gibbs clarified that POTUS had misspoken on AARP, implying that the old people’s org had given specific endorsement. He said POTUS should have said that AARP has been broadly supportive of reform and of the agreement between Senate Finance and the insurance industry on savings.