The old media really seemed to be reveling in the “miraculous” recovery of Obamacare, uncritically reporting signups have “surged” to that vaunted, administration-set “seven million” enrollees figure that remains under a cloud of suspicion given major gaps in what we know about it.
Tuesday, Obama held a triumphal news conference replete with adoring crowds applauding and some of his most deeply partisan rhetoric of his presidency. It was a spiking of the football that Obama hasn’t indulged in since he “got” bin Laden.
As soon as the administration announced its rabbit-out-of-the-hat trick of 7 million enrollees, for instance, Politico had sent out a breaking news email saying that Obamacare had “an extraordinarily strong finish.”
As to that “finish,” in 2008 Obama sold Obamacare as a way to help forty million uninsured Americans to get healthcare insurance. On Tuesday the President “celebrated” that he enrolled 7 million Americans into Obamacare, many of whom had insurance before but had their insurance cancelled because of his healthcare plan. This is the “extraordinarily strong finish” Politico touted.
Politico followed that breaking news email alert with piece talking about the “massive surge” of Obamacare enrollees that occurred on March 30 and 31.
That “massive surge” was an enrollee number that went from 6 million to 7 million.
The news site went on to report that Obama told the world that he hit the big mark, but did at least note that the numbers that made up Obama’s “huge surge” have not been confirmed by any factual, hard proof.
A headline at Roll Call helped celebrate by saying, “Obama, Democrats Have 7 Million Reasons for a Victory Lap.”
Roll Call went on to uncritically say that Tuesday “vindicated” Obama.
“For a president and congressional Democrats under siege for months last year during the disastrous HealthCare.gov rollout, Tuesday’s news of 7 million exchange sign-ups came as vindication four years in the making,” the Washington-based paper wrote.
Again, remember that none of Obama’s claims have been substantiated, no verifiable report of the age mix has been confirmed, no number of enrollees that didn’t have insurance before has been determined, and it isn’t clear how many actually went from their enrollment and actually got any healthcare insurance nor if they paid their premiums.
The headline that initially appeared on the Washington Post‘s website was simply a quote of Obama saying “the debate over repealing this law is over.” Needless to say, it’s highly unusual for a newspaper to forsake its own headline describing what happened, delegating that role to government official. The paper later changed the headline online to, “More than 7 million have enrolled under Affordable Care Act, White House says.” The print edition dropped the whole “White House says” bit.
The Post then wrote that the supposed 7 million was a “sharp turnaround from the troubled beginnings of enrollment last fall.”
NPR reported that the “website problems were fixed” but this is only partially true. It is true that the site works better for folks signing on from home, but there is still no indication that insurance companies are getting useful information on the back end of the Obamacare website and many state exchanges have failed even worse.
NBC News thought that Tuesday’s celebration was “a number that exceeded all hopes.” Again, 40 million are supposedly uninsured. Obama signed up “7 million.”
In one of Bloomberg’s reports, Obama’s allies were given every paragraph but one in the story to sing Obama’s praises and the one paragraph given to an Obama critic only got 17 words to disagree, and mildly at that.
On TV, the happy talk was no different. ABC’s Matthew Dowd lectured the GOP that they’d better lay off Obamacare now because it is such a great success. CNN was exultant that Obamacare had “a pretty miraculous recovery.” And NBC hyped Obamacare and gave a scant 22 seconds to reporting its problems.
In an embarrassing bit of exuberance, the left-wing New Republic quickly updated a chart on its website after White House press secretary Jay Carney told a writer there the government’s official numbers had been updated. “As POTUS just announced, with new data in, the number has been revised upward since my briefing,” Carney told TNR’s Jonathan Cohn.
“Duly noted — and item updated,” Cohn replied six minutes later. Yes, sir, Mr. Press Secretary, sir.
Huffington Post also jumped to sing Obama’s praises with an aggrandizing graphic made of a pun saying that the Obamacare was “Barack Enroll!”
Other romanticized headlines at HuffPo claimed that “train did not wreck,” and “Affordable Care Act Here to Stay.”