Diane Sawyer: ABC News Pitched Bush Administration on Town Hall Forum; Bush Passed

On Sunday, Diane Sawyer appeared as a guest on CNN’s Reliable Sources, where anchor Howard Kurtz asked her about the controversy surrounding ABC News’ upcoming town hall style interview with President Obama about health care reform.

During the interview, Ms. Sawyer revealed that ABC News had tried to set up a similar type style forum during the Bush administration, but was turned down by the former President’s staff.

“This is not theater,” said Ms. Sawyer.  “This is too important.  And we have to bring the issues and the questions, the strongest questions we can. And ABC has done town hall forums before.  We did one on guns with Bill Clinton and then came back a year later and did another one.  And they were extremely vital and robust debates about an important issue in the country.

“And we had talked to the Bush administration, which didn’t feel I think in many ways that it was a forum they felt was best for them,” she added. “But we also had, since Ted Koppel, felt that the town hall forum, bringing people in who are not on all of our Sunday shows and all of our cable shows all the time, on our morning shows and our evening shows all the time, bringing people in who can bring firsthand experience to bear sometimes creates the most effective and educational forum of all.”