ABC's Jake Tapper: Obama Was the 'Principal' During Speech; Congress Full of 'Unruly School Kids'

ABC correspondent Jake Tapper on Thursday condescendingly described Barack Obama's address to Congress this way: "At times, it was almost like the President were a principal and Congress a bunch of unruly school kids." The usually restrained reporter announced, "He [Obama] made outreach to his conservative opponents, while also refuting many of their ideas."

Refuted? Wouldn't challenged or attacked have been the neutral description? Tapper also repeated that Obama "blames misinformation for why many Americans are nervous about reform." Good Morning America on Thursday ignored the AP's fact check from the previous night that debunked some of the things the President supposedly "refuted:"

President Barack Obama used only-in-Washington accounting Wednesday when he promised to overhaul the nation's health care system without adding "one dime" to the deficit. By conventional arithmetic, Democratic plans would drive up the deficit by billions of dollars.

The president's speech to Congress contained a variety of oversimplifications and omissions in laying out what he wants to do about health insurance. A look at some of Obama's claims and how they square with the facts or the fuller story:


OBAMA: "Nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have."

THE FACTS: That's correct, as far as it goes. But neither can the plan guarantee that people can keep their current coverage. Employers sponsor coverage for most families, and they'd be free to change their health plans in ways that workers may not like, or drop insurance altogether. The Congressional Budget Office analyzed the health care bill written by House Democrats and said that by 2016 some 3 million people who now have employer-based care would lose it because their employers would decide to stop offering it.

A transcript of the September 10 segment, which aired at 7:01am EDT, follows:


SAWYER: And we begin this morning with that speech.

ROBIN ROBERTS: Of course, we do. The impassioned speech to Congress by the President. The hotly-debated public option apparently is not a deal-breaker. But the President did tell Republicans to get on board because the time to reform health care is now.

SAWYER: But, the most surprising moment in the 45-minute speech came from a member of Congress-turned heckler. Republican Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina, his outburst stunned the usually dignified crowd. And we're going to be able to get reaction.

ROBERTS: In a moment we'll get reaction from both sides, Diane, Vice President Joe Biden and leading Republican, Representative Eric Cantor. But, for what happened last night, we begin with senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper in Washington. Good morning, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER: Good morning, Robin. Well, last night, President Obama made the case for a government-run public health care option to help bring down costs. But he did not say it was non-negotiatible. He made outreach to his conservative opponents, while also refuting many of their ideas. At times, it was almost like the President were a principal and Congress a bunch of unruly school kids.

OBAMA: The time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed.

TAPPER: He blames misinformation for why many Americans are nervous about reform.

OBAMA: I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than to improve it.

TAPPER: And he pledged to call it misrepresentation, such as-

OBAMA: That we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Now, such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.

TAPPER: But another of the President's fact-checks was heckled.

OBAMA: There's also those that claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms- the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.


OBAMA: It's not true.

TAPPER: The cry of "that's a lie," came from South Carolina Republican Congressman Joe Wilson, who received a stern look from the House Speaker and later called the White House to apologize for his lack of civility. The President, at times, did reach across the aisle, including an idea for a high-risk pool to help people with pre-existing conditions be able to afford catastrophic care, suggested by Senator John McCain. Other times it got emotional. Evoking the memory of Senator Ted Kennedy, his widow by the First Lady's side, the President vowed to complete what Kennedy called the unfinished business of our society.

OBAMA: He was able to imagine what it must be like for those without insurance. What would it be like to have to say to a wife or a child or an aging parent, there is something that could make you better? But, I just can't afford it.

TAPPER: But the brass tax questions for the President this morning: Did he convince any skeptical Americans that his prescription is the right one? Did he convince any wavering members of the House and Senate, moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans, to join his effort? Diane?

-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.