Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on FNC's 'Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

Pitchfork Populism: ABC Takes Aim at WellPoint on Eve of ObamaCare Summit

ABC continued to support public anger against WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) a large insurance company on Feb. 24.

 

“World News with Diane Sawyer” delved into the “growing outrage” at WellPoint and tied it to President Barack Obama’s health care summit scheduled for the next day.

ABC continued to support public anger against WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) a large insurance company on Feb. 24.

 

“World News with Diane Sawyer” delved into the “growing outrage” at WellPoint and tied it to President Barack Obama’s health care summit scheduled for the next day.

 

“And now we turn to the growing outrage at insurance companies – the ones that raise premiums on ordinary Americans while racking up big profits,” Sawyer said. “Today, executives of the company that insures the most Americans had to answer for big bonuses and lavish retreats while socking clients with a double-digit increase in fees.”

 

Before using a populist argument to attack a company with a seven percent profit margin, ABC News should have looked in the mirror. Even with buyouts and layoffs anticipated of up to 20 percent of the ABC news division, or 300 positions – its parent company Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) is showing profit from operations at its television networks – ABC, ESPN and the Disney Channel. Marketwatch reported that Disney’s profits rose 11 percent in the most recent quarter to $724 million.

 

ABC’s story by senior congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl detailed the hardship of one WellPoint customer, Julie Henrickson, who saw her premiums go up $310 a month, as she explained to House committee on Feb. 24. He also highlighted the compensation of Angela Braly, WellPoint’s CEO, who received a salary of $1.1 million and stock compensation $8.5 million in 2009 – part of running a company with 33.7 million members and a market cap of $27.56 billion.

 

And also, Karl’s report included criticism from members of the House Energy and Commerce committee of WellPoint’s “record profit.”

 

“Actually, the company’s profits were $4.7 billion, in part because it sold a subsidiary,” Karl said. “In each of the last five years, WellPoint's profits have exceeded $2 billion. The company says its profit margin, about 5 percent, is reasonable.”

Sticking with the populist theme, Karl also criticized “lavish” company retreats.

 

“Documents obtained by the committee also show WellPoint spent $27 million in 2007 and 2008 on company retreats,” Karl said.

 

But “World News” segment couldn’t let Congress take all the credit for cracking down on health insurance companies. They spread the credit around to make sure viewers knew Obama was going to look out for them too.


”The Obama administration wants to hear from WellPoint, as well,” Karl said. “Today, the Health and Human Services secretary invited the CEOs of all the top insurance companies in the United States to come to Washington, Diane, to talk about those premium hikes.”

 

At the end of Karl’s report, Diane Sawyer mentioned the summit that would take place the next day. One night earlier, Feb. 23, Sawyer saw a need for government intervention regarding insurance premiums. She introduced an attack on private insurers by asking “will Republicans or will Democrats keep insurance companies from jacking up premiums while making huge profits?”

 

Other news outlets have helped sell Obama’s health care plan in advance of the supposedly bipartisan summit.