Networks Cheer ObamaCare 'Sign-Up Surge' as 'Milestone,' Ignore Lack of Young Enrollees

On Thursday evening and Friday morning, ABC, NBC, and CBS all touted a "surge" in sign-ups for ObamaCare ahead of Monday's March 31 deadline. What none of the networks mentioned was that the percentage of young, healthy enrollees was still short of the minimum necessary to sustain the health care law.

On ABC's World News on Thursday, anchor Diane Sawyer hailed the enrollment numbers as an "achievement" for President Obama as she proclaimed: "ObamaCare has hit a new milestone. More than 6 million people have now signed up. That's almost the original goal of 7 million. They have seen a surge in this final sprint before the deadline on March 31st..." [Listen to the audio]

Fill-in anchor Sharyn Alfonsi promoted the identical talking point on CBS Evening News that night: "There has been a dramatic increase in the number of Americans signing up for private insurance under the President's health care law. Today, the White House said enrollments topped 6 million..."

On Friday's NBC Today, substitute news reader Tamron Hall announced: "Well, more than 6 million Americans have now signed up for President Obama's new health care plan, just days before the March 31st deadline." The headline on screen declared an "ObamaCare Milestone."

On Good Morning America, fill-in news reader Amy Robach used the same phrase: "Well, a new milestone for ObamaCare. The White House saying more than six million people have already signed up for insurance ahead of Monday's deadline."

CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose proclaimed: "Sign-ups for the Affordable Care Act are surging ahead of Monday's deadline. The White House says more than six million Americans enrolled with private insurance plans under the law."

All three networks did acknowledge that the latest sign-up numbers were "still short of the original target of 7 million people."

Only ABC took note of dwindling public support for ObamaCare, with Robach telling GMA viewers about "a poll showing support for the health care law dropping to a new low."

The latest AP-GFK poll showed only 26% of Americans support the health care law.

Here is a transcript of the March 27-28 network coverage of ObamaCare:

CBS Evening News
3/27/14
6:42 PM ET

SHARYN ALFONSI: There has been a dramatic increase in the number of Americans signing up for private insurance under the President's health care law. Today, the White House said enrollments topped 6 million, however that's still short of the original estimate of 7 million by March 31.

ABC World News
3/27/14
6:44 PM ET

DIANE SAWYER: The President overseas tonight. But an achievement for him here at home. ObamaCare has hit a new milestone. More than 6 million people have now signed up. That's almost the original goal of 7 million. They have seen a surge in this final sprint before the deadline on March 31st, which is Monday, when open enrollment will end.


Today
03/28/14
7:14 AM ET

TAMRON HALL: Well, more than 6 million Americans have now signed up for President Obama's new health care plan, just days before the March 31st deadline.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: ObamaCare Milestone; More Than Six Million Americans Have Signed Up]

That fulfills a goal set by the Congressional Budget Office and embraced by the White House. But it's still short of the original target of 7 million people.

Monday is the last day to enroll for ObamaCare, although the deadline has been extended for those who have started the application process.


Good Morning America
3/28/14
7:09 AM ET

AMY ROBACH:  Well, a new milestone for ObamaCare. The White House saying more than six million people have already signed up for insurance ahead of Monday's deadline. That's one million in just the past week, despite a poll showing support for the health care law dropping to a new low.

CBS This Morning
3/28/14
7:14 AM ET

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Sign-Up Surge; White House: 6M Have Enrolled for Health Care]

CHARLIE ROSE: Sign-ups for the Affordable Care Act are surging ahead of Monday's deadline. The White House says more than six million Americans enrolled with private insurance plans under the law. That falls short of the original goal of seven million, but exceeds a recently revised estimate. The Obama administration be allowed to buy coverage after the deadline if they've already started the process.

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