Networks Give Little Coverage to 'Another Hiccup' for ObamaCare

Between Monday's network evening newscasts and Tuesday's morning shows, NBC, ABC and CBS failed to provide a single full report on President Obama unilaterally issuing another ObamaCare mandate delay for businesses. In addition, only a single sentence on Tuesday's CBS This Morning described the controversial move as the President "rewriting the law."

On Tuesday's NBC Today, Natalie Morales offered a 29-second news brief in which she downplayed the development: "Well, another hiccup this morning on the ObamaCare front." [Listen to the audio] Later in the show, co-host Matt Lauer and weatherman Al Roker found time to air a 2-minute segment they did on unusual outfits at the Sochi Olympic games.

ABC's Good Morning America only managed 18 seconds of coverage to the ObamaCare setback. The morning show offered a 3-minute report on a Hollywood luncheon for Oscar nominees.

CBS This Morning provided the most air time to ObamaCare on Tuesday, 1 minute and 35 seconds. However, compare that to the 3 minutes the show gave to efforts to improve airline food.

The evening newscasts on Monday all included ObamaCare news briefs, but none of coverage cited any Republican criticism of the latest delay or the fact that Obama was once again going around Congress to change the law.

It was for that very reason that Republicans recently delayed immigration reform legislation, citing a lack of trust that the President would properly implement any such law.

Tuesday morning's coverage did include GOP criticism. NBC's Morales noted: "Congressional Republicans criticized the move, saying it is an attempt to sidestep the health care law for political gain." ABC's Josh Elliott explained: "Republicans, such as House Speaker John Boehner, say the President is giving corporations a break but not struggling families."

However, only CBS's Garrett made any reference to Obama actually changing the law: "Now, Republicans contend this change illustrates the law's fundamental flaws, both practical and political. House Speaker John Boehner also cites this and other ObamaCare delays as the White House rewriting the law to fit its political needs on its own terms."

Here are transcripts of the February 11 morning show coverage:

Today
7:12AM

NATALIE MORALES: Well, another hiccup this morning on the ObamaCare front.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: ObamaCare Mandate Delayed; For Companies With 50-99 Employees]

The Obama administration announced Monday another delay in the requirement for businesses to provide health care coverage to its workers. This time specifically for companies with 50 to 99 employees. The mandate, which was supposed to take effect last month, had already been delayed once before. Now those employers will not have to comply until 2016.

Congressional Republicans criticized the move, saying it is an attempt to sidestep the health care law for political gain.



Good Morning America
7:12AM

JOSH ELLIOTT: And a new delay in ObamaCare. The White House is giving medium-sized businesses, those that employ between 50 and 99 workers, another year before their insurance mandate will kick in.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: New ObamaCare Delay; Republicans Slam President]

Republicans, such as House Speaker John Boehner, say the President is giving corporations a break but not struggling families.



CBS This Morning
7:12AM

NORAH O'DONNELL: And this morning, many businesses are getting more time to comply with ObamaCare. Major Garrett is at the White House with the latest delay in the troubled rollout. Major, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: New ObamaCare Delay; Employers Get More Time to Cover Workers]

MAJOR GARRETT: Well, good morning, Norah and Charlie. President Obama's top health care advisors describe this change, and this is their words, as a "common sense answer to genuine fears in the business community that the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate is still too costly and complicated.

Here is what is different. The Obama administration has, for the second year, delayed the mandate for businesses with 50 to 99 employees to provide health insurance or face a fine. That mandate was to begin in January of 2015. Now it begins in January of 2016. This affects about 115,000 businesses.

The other big delay affects just understand 100,000 businesses, those with more than 100 employees. Those businesses have to provide health insurance in 2015, but to 70% of their workforce, instead of the 95% originally required.

All of these changes only affect full-time employees. And most businesses, those with less than 50 employees, do not have to deal with the ObamaCare employer mandate at all.

Now, Republicans contend this change illustrates the law's fundamental flaws, both practical and political. House Speaker John Boehner also cites this and other ObamaCare delays as the White House rewriting the law to fit its political needs on its own terms. The White House answer, implementing ObamaCare is complicated and there is nothing wrong with giving businesses more time to adjust. Charlie and Norah.

O'DONNELL: Alright, Major, thank you.

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