Beyond Spin? Networks Unload on ObamaCare: An 'Embarrassing,' 'Botched' 'Resounding Thud'
At least for Thursday, the network morning shows admitted that ObamaCare is an "embarrassing," "botched" failure that has landed with a "resounding thud." ABC, CBS and NBC offered blunt, stark descriptions of the health care law's low enrollment rates and the disastrous implementation. Good Morning America reporter Jim Avila explained, "The President's signature achievement, health care for everyone, officially got off to a resounding thud." He added that Republicans are "seizing on the botched rollout."
Over on NBC's Today, Savannah Guthrie unloaded on the President: "A new poll that has the President's approval rating hitting an all-time low as the administration is forced to acknowledge health care enrollment numbers that are embarrassingly low." [MP3 audio here.] Correspondent Peter Alexander marveled, "For a better sense of just how few Americans signed up for ObamaCare in the first month – 106,000 total – consider that's barely enough to fill a large football stadium and only one-fifth of what government officials had projected."
Alexander made sure to repeatedly explain the danger to the Democratic Party: "Even Senate Democrats are getting anxious, especially those facing tough re-elections next year....But Democrats are losing patience, one calling it 'a complete embarrassment.'"
CBS This Morning anchor Charlie Rose called the scant number of Americans who signed up for the health care law a "reality check for ObamaCare."
Correspondent Major Garrett bleakly noted:
MAJOR GARRETT: "These numbers confirm starkly the worse administration fears: ObamaCare's ineptly-designed federal health care website starved the program of hundreds of thousands of potential customers. Health care websites run by 14 states and the District of Columbia performed a bit better. Not only did these enrollment numbers fall well short of expectations, they came with an unconventional definition.
One noticeable feature of Thursday's coverage is a lack of much effort to offer Democratic spin. CBS's Garrett revealed, "Four times as many Americans signed up for health insurance entirely funded by the government than have signed up for private insurance. Over time, that could threaten the financial stability of this law."
Avila on GMA closed by reminding viewers that the ObamaCare website cost $600 million. He casually remarked, "Now, to put that in perspective, that is four times what Apple paid to develop all of our iPhones."
A transcript of the November 14 GMA segment is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We get to the latest troubles now for ObamaCare. The first official figures are out and the number of Americans signing up for insurance on HealthCare.gov far below the President's hopes. He may support for changes as early today. ABC's Jim Avila is on point at the White House. And Jim, the pressure for change continues to build.
ABC GRAPHIC: ObamaCare Fare Below Estimates: Pressure Mounting to Change Health Law
JIM AVILA: That's right, George and good morning. The White House is under pressure, now from its own party. Senate Democrats today expected to urge President Obama to change his mind and honor his famous words, "if they like their plan, they can keep their plan." The President's signature achievement, health care for everyone, officially got off to a resounding thud. The first month of enrollment, crippled by a website that did not function most of the time, enticed a mere 106,000 people to select the plan And only 27,000 signed up in the federal government's HealthCare.gov site, far short of the half million the administration had hoped for in the first month and the seven million by the March deadline, prompting presidential spokesman Jay Carney to low ball expectations just before the numbers were released on Wednesday.
JAY CARNEY: I can only tell you we fully expect that the numbers w eve lower than anticipated because of the significant challenges caused by the website.
AVILA: Republicans seizing on the botched rollout --
DARRELL ISSA: This was a monumental mistake.
AVILA: -- to claim, it's not just the website. Government cannot provide health re.
JOHN BOEHNER: When you look at ObamaCare, frankly, I don't think there's a way to fix it.
AVILA: And those disappointing enrollment figures not the only eye-popping numbers to come out yesterday. When asked about the cost of what that website is so far, the chief accountant said $600 million. Now, to put that in perspective, that is four times what Apple paid to develop all of our iPhones.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Oh, okay. Jim. Thanks very much.
— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.