WASHINGTON - Polls show support for President Barack Obama's health care plan appears to be losing steam - and the White House is trying to fight back.
It's asking ordinary citizens to help keep an eye out for people spreading rumors, fear, or what they call "disinformation."
The White House is on the defensive, questioning the authenticity of public outrage at recent town hall meetings over the President's health care reform plan.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says they're being "manufactured" by conservative groups to get attention and kill support for health care legislation working its ways through Congress.
"I don't doubt that there are people who come to ask their members of Congress honest questions about the direction of the country," said Gibbs. "I also have no doubt that there are groups that have spread out people across the country to go to these things and specifically generate videos that can be posted on Internet sites so that people can watch what's happening in America."
In Tuesday's White House press briefing, Gibbs singled out the group Conservatives for Patients Rights, which he says bragged about the angry protests.
But the group's leader, Rick Scott, told CBN News that he believes what's happening is genuine.
"You cannot manufacture anger like that. This is the average American saying 'I don't want my health care changed. I don't want the government to take over my health care. And I don't think it's going to stop,'"Scott said.
'Disinformation' Tip Line
To keep the debate alive while Congress is out on summer recess, the White House has created a tip line to keep track of what it calls "disinformation," asking for people to report any e-mail or anything else on the Web about health insurance that seems "fishy."
Scott applauds the move as a way to encourage transparency.
He said, "We need to make sure that there is an honest debate and that everybody, including the White House, says just exactly what this bill is going to do. You're not going to have the right to keep your own doctor, you're not going to have the right to keep your own insurance plan. So we need to be honest with the American people."
*Originally published August 5, 2009