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Obama"s Town Hall Meeting on Health Insurance Draws Criticism

Welcome to VirginiaHelen Thomas and CBS’s Chip Reid were among the critics who slammed President Obama for prepackaging a town hall meeting yesterday, reports CBS News.

The hour-long discussion on health insurance reform took place in Northern Virginia and featured seven questions picked from the live audience, Twitter and YouTube.

Along with a tearful 53-year-old woman who didn’t know how to get coverage for her cancer, the others called on all had close ties to the Obama administration: the Service Employees International Union, Health Care for America Now, and Organizing for America, which is part of the Democratic National Committee. White House officials claimed this was a coincidence.

Even though one question did come from Republican Rep. Michael C. Burgess, who challenged Obama to support caps on medical malpractice awards, the question were by far and large softballs. On the other hand, a town hall meeting isn’t a press conference, and isn’t bound by the same transparency standards.

Regardless, at a daily briefing with White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, Thomas and Reid ripped into Gibbs, accusing him of prepackaging the event and trying to control the media.

Town hall meetings have long been a trademark of Obama’s communication strategy and it is clear that they are counting on public pressure to help push health care reform legislation through. At yesterday’s meeting, the President said, 8220;In order to make it happen, I’m going to need ordinary Americans to stand up and say now’s the time. ”

Smart campaigning or unethical deception? Judge for yourself.

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