Democrats' apparent decision to come up with a final health care bill not only behind closed doors but within a very select group of negotiators is drawing criticism not only from expected quarters, but from the media.
Both C-SPAN and House Republicans are reminding President Obama that he once pledged to have the health care negotiations carried on the gavel-to-gavel cable network.
"As your respective chambers work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate health care bills, C-SPAN requests that you open all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings, to electronic media coverage," C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb wrote in a letter to Obama and congressional leaders that the network released this morning.
"President Obama, Senate and House leaders, many of your rank-and-file members, and the nationís editorial pages have all talked about the value of transparent discussions on reforming the nationís health care system. Now that the process moves to the critical stage of reconciliation between the Chambers, we respectfully request that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American," Lamb added in the Dec. 30 letter.
"We hope you will give serious consideration to this request. We are most willing to employ the latest digital technology to make the cameras, lights and microphones as unobtrusive as possible."
The plan is not to appoint a conference committee of key members of the House and Senate, but to have House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, top White House officials, and a few others try to craft a compromise. That would be a more expeditious route, in hopes of getting a bill to Obama's desk before his first State of the Union speech.
The first of those private meetings is scheduled later today in the Oval Office as Obama huddles with Democratic leaders.
UPDATE: Asked this afternoon about the C-SPAN criticism, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he had not seen the letter. He didn't answer further.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.