Networks Out of Step with Public, Ignore Majority Support for ObamaCare Repeal
The 112th Congress took office Jan. 5 and the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives planned to immediately tackle the unpopular health care legislation signed into law in 2010.
The Washington Post reported that House Republicans intend to vote on a repeal of ObamaCare Jan. 12, just one week into the new congressional session.
"ObamaCare is a job-killer for businesses small and large, and the top priority for House Republicans is going to be to cut spending and grow the economy and jobs," Brad Dayspring, spokesman for incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was quoted by the Post.
That attempt to repeal has been mentioned in many network reports lately, but the public's dislike of the legislation has been missing from most ABC, CBS and NBC news stories between Dec. 5 and Jan. 4.
According to Rasmussen Reports, 60 percent of likely voters favor repeal of the health care law - for the second week in a row. Since the first week of December the percentage favoring repeal has not dropped below 55 percent, and has been between 50 and 63 percent since March of 2010. Those polls were not mentioned in any of the network stories referencing the "controversial" health care legislation.
Only four, out of 63 network stories mentioning ObamaCare legislation in the past month said anything about public opinion of the bill. Only two of those stories, both by ABC, cited any polling data on the issue. In both of those mentions, reporters for ABC admitted that the bill is at "its lowest level of popularity ever" and cited an ABC News/Washington Post poll that found 52 percent of people oppose the bill.
What ABC "World News" and "Good Morning America" didn't tell viewers was that the same poll found 59 percent of people favored a full (29 percent) or partial (30 percent) repeal of the legislation.
Multiple Polls show Support for ObamaCare Repeal
Polls mean a lot to the news media, at least when the results seem to support liberal solutions. In 2009, some news outlets touted a poll claiming that "nearly three-quarters of doctors said they favor a public option." An Investor's Business Daily poll found dramatically different results. They actually found 65 percent of physicians opposed to ObamaCare.
On March 24, 2010, NBC's "Today" and ABC's "Good Morning America" shows only cited a Gallup/USA Today poll that showed significantly more public support for ObamaCare than other polling done at that time.
Meredith Vieira used the poll to grill Sen. Jim DeMint, R- S.C., saying, "[B]y a margin of 9 percent, Americans say it was a good thing that Congress passed this bill. Half describe their reaction as enthusiastic or pleased. 48 percent called the bill a good first step. So who is out of touch with the public? The Democrats or the Republicans?"
Media outlets once again picked the poll more favorable to ObamaCare in September 2010 by hyping a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll indicating only 26 percent of Americans wanted a repeal of the health care bill, while ignoring Rasmussen's findings that 57 percent favored repeal.
But according to PollingReport.com, even Kaiser Family Foundation's findings are catching up. The Dec. 1-6, 2010 survey by KFF found 26 percent in favor of full repeal and 25 percent in favor of partial repeal - a total of 51 percent. But the networks didn't mention it.
Some Reporters Discourage Attempt at Repeal
Despite growing public opposition to the health care bill, the networks have tried to discourage the GOP from its mission to "dismantle" the bill. Several stories referred to the Jan. 12 vote as "symbolic," and CBS's Katie Couric noted "that's not likely to succeed."
"Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith even asked if it was a "fool's errand" on Jan. 2, as he filled in on "Face the Nation." Smith asked Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., about the GOP effort.
"One of the things the Tea Party has talked about is dismantling health care, and we're wondering if, in the end of the day, that ends up being a fool's errand … it will face a certain veto. Is it worth the effort to try to do?" Smith asked.
Bachmann defended her position citing public opinion, "ObamaCare will bankrupt the country. And so you've seen that the more the people learn about ObamaCare the less they like it. It's very costly, it's unwieldy. So we will put forth a clean repeal bill of ObamaCare. And you'll continue to see us make that fight because that's what the American people want us to do."
ABC's Jake Tapper said that the chances of repeal are "very slim" and predicted the new majority would attempt to "starve the bill by depriving it of funding."
The Business & Media Institute analyzed several months of network coverage of health care in 2009 and found some journalists openly embracing ObamaCare and praising the "historic" and "ambitious" health care proposals. ABC, CBS and NBC stories favored proponents to critics in those stories by more than 2-to-1 margin (243 to 104).