Documents obtained from the Department of Health and Human Services reveal that the Obama administration spent $3,184,000 in taxpayer funds to produce and air national television ads promoting Democrats' health care overhaul plan.
The ads, starring television icon Andy Griffith, were meant to educate "Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers and family members about forthcoming changes to Medicare as a result of the Affordable Care Act." However, multiple media outlets, including the nonpartisan FactCheck.org, called the ads misleading.
“Would the sheriff of Mayberry mislead you about Medicare? Alas, yes. In a new TV spot from the Obama administration, actor Andy Griffith, famous for his 1960s portrayal of the top law enforcement official in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., touts benefits of the new health care law. Griffith tells his fellow senior citizens, ‘like always, we’ll have our guaranteed [Medicare] benefits.’ But the truth is that the new [Obamacare] law is guaranteed to result in benefit cuts for one class of Medicare beneficiaries — those in private Medicare Advantage plans.”
The government documents were obtained by Judicial Watch, a public interest group that weeds out government corruption. The documents outlined the cost for each of the three Griffith ads. Judicial Watch reports:
“Mr. Griffith is featured in three Medicare television ads and provided his services to the government at no charge pursuant to a gratuitous services agreement. These three spots, ‘1965,’ ‘Music to My Ears,’ and ‘Cozy Chair,’ are only airing in September and October 2010. The production for the three advertisements cost $404,000; the total amount budgeted for the national media placement is $2.78 million, which breaks down per ad to $754,000 (‘1965’), $1,112,000 (‘Music to My Ears’), and $1,390,000 (‘Cozy Chair’).”
In press statements touting the new Griffith advertising program the Obama White House described its purpose: “The Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] will strengthen the health care system for all Americans, but senior citizens in particular stand to benefit from the new law. And the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is getting a little help delivering the good news from a well-known TV star: Andy Griffith.” ...
The new documents show the public relations firm Porter Novelli produced the advertising campaign. One of these documents lists the Porter Novelli staff involved in producing the advertisements and details that former Obama campaign spokesperson Catherine “Kiki” McLean contributed 21 hours of her time to the project. Porter Novelli’s website notes McLean served as a “senior adviser to the Hillary Clinton for President campaign and appeared as an on-air surrogate for the Obama for America campaign.” She is currently the Senior Partner, Global Head of Public Affairs, and Managing Director for Porter Novelli.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton called the ads "propaganda for Obamacare," and said it was a "scandal than an Obama insider is involved in the contract for these misleading ads."
“Taxpayers and Congress should be upset the Obama administration wastes millions of taxpayer dollars on this propaganda campaign at a time when the government desperately needs to tighten its belt," Fitton said Wednesday. "Even Barney Fife would see that these Obamacare ads are bogus.”