Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Manufactured credibility

Remember that photo op Obama had yesterday with the doctors who support health care reform? Apparently, the doctors were asked to wear their white lab coats--and some of them forgot:
A sea of 150 white-coated doctors, all enthusiastically supportive of the president and representing all 50 states, looked as if they were at a costume party as they posed in the Rose Garden before hearing Obama's pitch for the Democratic overhaul bills moving through Congress.

The physicians, all invited guests, were told to bring their white lab coats to make sure that TV cameras captured the image.

But some docs apparently forgot, failing to meet the White House dress code by showing up in business suits or dresses.

So the White House rustled up white coats for them and handed them to the suited physicians who had taken seats in the sun-splashed lawn area.

All this to provide a visual counter to complaints from other doctors that pending legislation is bad news for the medical profession.

"Nobody has more credibility with the American people on this issue than you do," Obama told his guests.

Apparently, though, doctors who wear business suits instead of white coats lack that credibility--hence the Rose Garden rush to make sure the docs were appropriately garbed.

And what about the credibility of much of the mainstream media, which noted the lab coats but failed to mention the staging of the photo op:

In his latest push for a health care overhaul bill, President Obama spoke to doctors in the White House Rose Garden yesterday. Painting a nice picture of the event were many media outlets that neglected to mention the White House's doctoring (forgive the pun) of the audience in an attempt at a powerful photo-op.

Doctors attending the event were instructed to show up in white lab coats to give observers the feeling that doctors stand behind the President's health care plans.

"White Coats in the Rose Garden, as Obama Rallies Doctors on Health Overhaul," read a New York Times blog post headline. "The roughly 150 doctors assembled wore white lab coats under the brilliant fall sun," the Washington Post recalled. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Obama faced rows of smiling doctors, all wearing white lab coats." NBC News also noted the white coats donned by the doctors in attendance.

But none of these media outlets mentioned that the White House had to hand out lab coats to a number of the doctors in attendance who showed up in business attire. Apparently trying to drive home the image of medical professionals applauding the President, the White House would not start the press conference until all of the doctors were dressed in the "spiffy" outfits, in the President's words.

Maybe the president should invite journalists to the White House to show that they support his health care plan (no surprise there). Only, to make them look really, really super-credible in the eyes of the American people his staff could have the media reps cover up their press badges, and hand out pajamas for them to wear over their business attire.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

White-coat syndrome is a real phenomenon. It's Pavlovian. See a white coat? Your blood pressure rises, you think serious (and panicky) thoughts--someone means business. No matter if the esteemed physician or the clinical nursing student, patients think, "you Doc, me patient", and observe in the physician an immediate aura of authority. One doesn't even have to look at the name badge. (Which could be a little scary in and of itself to realize.)

It would've only been ridiculous if they'd been requested to show up with a Littmann Cardiology stethoscope over their shoulder and a examination light affixed to the forehead.