The White House is making exerted efforts to combat misinformation about health care reform, Linda Douglass, communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform, said today on Washington Unplugged, but it is not collecting personal information or compiling any sort of "enemies list" as some have suggested.
"What we're trying to do is create a place where people can go to get the facts," Douglass said. "People out there, in a way, are citizen journalists... so we just want to arm them with information."
Earlier this week, the White House released a video
in which Douglass refuted claims made on the Internet about President Obama's health care reform plans. In an accompanying blog post, White House Director of New Media Macon Phillips urged citizens to e-mail the White House with any "fishy" information they come across with respect to health care.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) subsequently accused the president
of creating an "enemies list" and wrote a letter to him asking how personally identifiable information -- such as names, e-mail addresses, and IP addresses -- would be handled in the collection of this information.
"We're not keeping a list," Douglass said. "What is being said -- not who's saying it -- is what is being looked at. It's simply information that is out there."
She added, "Nobody's compiling a list. I bet you that Sen. Cornyn knows that."CBS News' chief political consultant Marc Ambinder
, also appearing on Washington Unplugged, agreed that Cornyn's accusation is probably simply a political tactic.
"Smart conservatives know that the White House isn't really compiling an emenmies list," Ambinder said. "That kind of takes it too far, but that's what political parties do."
The White House's response also reflects Mr. Obama's political style, Ambinder said -- though it proved more useful during the campaign.
"We've seen throughout the year how the White House and the Democratic National Committee have attempted to use the techniques and even the langauge President Obama used during the campaign," he said. "They haven't been so successful so far."
Conservative analyst David All said on Washington Unplugged that it is commendable that the White House is taking "unprecedented steps" to utilize the Internet to improve citizen engagement. However, he said Phillip's blog post might have gone too far.
"When they're asking people to submit casual conversations, we have to think about the ramifications and whether or not that has a chilling effect on speech," he said.
Watch the interviews in the video above, as well as analysis from CBS News' National Security Consultant Juan Zarate about the death of a key senior Taliban official in Pakistan. And click here for past episodes of "Washington Unplugged."