Networks Parrot White House Spin That Latest ObamaCare Delay Due to 'Surge in Demand'

On Wednesday, all three network morning shows repeated the White House line that the reason for delaying the March 31 ObamaCare enrollment deadline was due to a last-minute "surge" of people signing up. In a 20-second news brief on NBC's Today, fill-in news reader Tamron Hall announced "a reprieve this morning for people who've been trying to sign up for ObamaCare," before noting that "the Health and Human Services Department says there has been a last-minute surge in demand." [Listen to the audio]

During a 17-second news brief on ABC's Good Morning America, fill-in news reader Amy Robach gently described the law's new setback as a sign-up "grace period" and declared: "...the White House predicts a crush of applicants in the final hours could cause a computer traffic jam."

CBS This Morning was the only morning show to offer a full minute-long report on the ObamaCare delay, with correspondent Jan Crawford touting the same government talking points: "The Obama administration says it's doing this because it's seeing, as you know, this recent surge in enrollment. It's been on that kind of full court press lately to get as many people as possible to show up – to sign up."

However, unlike her counterparts on NBC and ABC, Crawford actually mentioned Republicans criticizing the latest unilateral change to the health care law: "Republicans are saying, look, this is just more delays for a law that isn't going to work no matter how often the administration changes it."

Here is a transcript of the March 26 network morning coverage:

Today
7:15 AM ET

TAMRON HALL: A reprieve this morning for people who've been trying to sign up for ObamaCare health insurance.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: ObamaCare Deadline; Pending Enrollment Can Be Completed After March 31]

White House officials say those already in line for enrollment by phone or website will be able to complete their transactions beyond the March 31st deadline. The Health and Human Services Department says there has been a last-minute surge in demand.

Good Morning America
7:12 AM ET

AMY ROBACH: We begin with the White House giving people more time to sign up for ObamaCare. Anyone who begins an application before the March 31st enrollment deadline will now be allowed to finish it.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: ObamaCare "Extension"; Enrollees Get More Time After March 31]

No word yet how long that grace period will be, but the White House predicts a crush of applicants in the final hours could cause a computer traffic jam.

CBS This Morning
7:13 AM ET

CHARLIE ROSE: New developments for the health care law. This morning, time is running out to sign up for insurance under open enrollment or pay a penalty. The deadline is Monday, but the Obama administration is offering an extension with a catch. Jan Crawford is in Washington with how a sudden increase in applicants could tie up the website. Jan, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: ObamaCare Extension; Administration Allowing More Time to Enroll]

JAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning. So the White House, as you know, has been saying repeatedly March 31st, Monday, that's the deadline, they're not changing it. But now with that deadline six days away, they're backing off on that.

Here's what's happening, Charlie and Clarissa. As long as you can say you tried to enroll before Monday's deadline, you can get more time. And this is the honor system. All you've got to do is check a box on your form that you've been trying to sign up.

The Obama administration says it's doing this because it's seeing, as you know, this recent surge in enrollment. It's been on that kind of full court press lately to get as many people as possible to show up – to sign up.

But Republicans are saying, look, this is just more delays for a law that isn't going to work no matter how often the administration changes it. Charlie and Clarissa?

CLARISSA WARD: Jan, thanks.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.