NBC's Todd: President 'Didn't Intentionally' Lie About ObamaCare

While NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd did question President Obama on the failed ObamaCare rollout during an exclusive interview on Thursday, the network political director tried to downplay the notion that the commander-in-chief actively lied in promoting the health care law: "'If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.' You said it a lot during the run-up. At this point, though, it's obviously something – a promise that has not been able to be kept....What happened?" [Listen to the audio]

In his next question, Todd came close to accusing Obama of deception, but quickly equivocated: "Do you feel like you owe these folks an apology for misleading them? Even if you didn't intentionally do it, but at this point, they feel misled. And you've seen the anger that's out there."

Todd didn't bother to mention NBC's own scoop that showed the administration knew years ago that millions of Americans would lose their current health insurance under ObamaCare, clear evidence that the President was intentionally deceiving people.

Moments later, the toughest critic of the President that Todd managed to cite was left-wing Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page, whom he acknowledged was "not a columnist that likes to throw bombs inside this White House" and "usually pretty supportive":

He characterized this as a "political lie." He called it a sort of – "the sort of rosy promise politicians sometimes make with such passion and confidence that they actually may have convinced even themselves that it is true." Is that the position you found? Did politics play a role and you felt as if as the Republicans were throwing stuff at the law, you're trying to pass it, you're trying to do this, that you shorthanded this?

That was the only time the word "lie" came up in the interview. And notice the term was "political lie," giving Todd the opportunity to blame the Republicans for putting too much pressure on Obama.

Here's how ABC and CBS reacted to the interview.

Here is a portion of the November 7 exchange, aired on MSNBC's PoliticsNation that evening:

6:30PM ET

CHUCK TODD: I will start with health care. It's probably the most quoted thing or re-quoted thing you have said in your presidency, "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it." You said it a lot during the run-up. At this point, though, it's obviously something – a promise that has not been able to be kept. Just today, the Denver Post reported 250,000 people in Colorado are seeing health insurance policies cancelled. Some of those people liked those policies, and they can't keep it. What happened?

(...)

TODD: Do you feel like you owe these folks an apology for misleading them? Even if you didn't intentionally do it, but at this point, they feel misled. And you've seen the anger that's out there.

BARACK OBAMA: You know, I regret very much that what we intended to do – which is to make sure that everybody is moving into better plans because they want them, as opposed to because they're forced into it – that, you know, we weren't as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were taking place. And I want to do everything we can to make sure that people are finding themselves in a good position, a better position than they were before this law happened.

(...)

OBAMA: So the majority of folks will end up being better off, of course, because the website's not working right, they don't necessarily know it right [now]. But even though it's a small percentage of folks who may be disadvantaged, you know, it means a lot to them and it's scary to them. And I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me. We've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and that we're gonna do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.

TODD: You've been getting some tough criticism on this quote. Clarence Page, your hometown newspaper, The Chicago Tribune, this is not – not a columnist that likes to throw bombs inside this White House, usually pretty supportive of what you said. He characterized this as a "political lie." He called it a sort of – "the sort of rosy promise politicians sometimes make with such passion and confidence that they actually may have convinced even themselves that it is true." Is that the position you found? Did politics play a role and you felt as if as the Republicans were throwing stuff at the law, you're trying to pass it, you're trying to do this, that you shorthanded this?

OBAMA: No, I think we, in good faith, have been trying to take on a health care system that has been broken for a very long time. And what we've been trying to do is to change it in the least disruptive way possible.

(...)

TODD: Do you feel like, considering how much this quote has been – it's late night, it's all sorts of things – that do you understand that people are gonna be skeptical of the next promise you make, of the next – or are you concerned that people are gonna be wondering, "Jeez, what's the fine print that he's not telling me?" Do you get that people might be a little more skeptical? Forget the partisans here in Washington, just average Americans.

(...)

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