NBC Sympathizes: 'Humble President' Was 'Strikingly Contrite' About ObamaCare Failures
On Friday, NBC's Today tried to cast President Obama's
Thursday press conference about the ObamaCare disaster in the most
sympathetic light possible, with co-host Savannah leading off the show
by proclaiming: "The humble president....President Obama does
damage control on the botched health care rollout with his legacy
hanging in the balance." [Listen to the audio]
Introducing the segment moments later, Guthrie claimed the President was "falling on the sword over this health care rollout disaster." In the report that followed, White House correspondent Peter Alexander emphasized Obama's supposedly humility: "The President the first to admit that he has a lot of work ahead of him to regain the confidence of the American people....[he] was strikingly contrite."
After Alexander's report, fill-in co-host Willie Geist observed: "It
was a remarkable press conference yesterday, talking about, 'This is on
me,' he was humbled, he said, 'I'm not a perfect man.' I don't think
we've seen this President Obama." Guthrie agreed: "You know what? Even
friends and admirers of the President don't usually use the word
'humble' in association with him, but I think that's the apt description
Geist fully accepted the President claims of being unaware of the non-functioning HealthCare.gov website before its launch: "And one of the most remarkable things that really struck me yesterday was he said, 'I didn't know beforehand that the website wasn't going to work.' So his staff allowed him to go out time and again and say, 'We're going to be fine, we're going to be ready on October the 1st,' knowing full well that there were problems in the pipeline."
Guthrie chimed in: "...he said it was actually a week into the rollout, after the website was open, before they even grasped how serious these problems were."
Wrapping up the exchange, Geist noted: "And how quickly things change. It was less than a month ago today, the shutdown was here, some people writing the obituaries of the Republican Party, that story has changed a lot this morning."
One of those "people" was NBC's chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd, who labeled the shutdown an "unmitigated political disaster" for the GOP. It's unclear when Todd will make the same pronouncement for the Democratic Party and ObamaCare.
Here is a full transcript of the November 15 segment:
7:00AM ET TEASE:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: The humble president.
BARACK OBAMA: We fumbled...Ultimately, I'm the head of this team...That's on me...I'm trying to fix it.
GUTHRIE: President Obama does damage control on the botched health care roll out with his legacy hanging in the balance.
7:02AM ET SEGMENT:
GUTHRIE: We're going to begin this morning with Today's Top Story, President Obama falling on the sword over this health care rollout disaster. NBC's Peter Alexander is at the White House this morning with the latest. Peter, good morning.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Tough Pill to Swallow; President Admits to "Fumbled" Rollout]
PETER ALEXANDER: Savannah, good morning to you. The President the first to admit that he has a lot of work ahead of him to regain the confidence of the American people. Today is critical, we're gonna see whether his idea for a temporary fix to ObamaCare is really enough to satisfy anxious Democrats, with the House voting on proposed legislative changes to the law.
BARACK OBAMA: We fumbled the rollout on this health care law.
ALEXANDER: In the wake of the President's suggested fix, the insurance industry is now fuming.
OBAMA: I'm offering an idea that will help do it.
ALEXANDER: The President's idea, ask insurers to hold off dropping as many as 5 million insurance policies that have been cancelled because they don't cover everything mandated under ObamaCare. Required coverage like emergency room visits, maternity care, and mental health.
ROBERT LASZEWSKI [HEALTH POLICY CONSULTANT]: Any insurance company that can accomplish this should get the information technology hall of fame award. It's just one hell of a mess.
ALEXANDER: Insurers, who insist they were not consulted about the President's request, say Mr. Obama is simply passing his problem like a hot potato on to them. Industry leaders warn the fixes could result in higher premiums for consumers.
OBAMA: This fix won't solve every problem for every person, but it's gonna help a lot of people. Doing more will require work with Congress.
ALEXANDER: But today, dissatisfied House Republicans vote on their own way forward, a plan to let Americans who got cancellation letters keep current policies. Insurers would also be allowed to sell new plans that don't comply with the Affordable Care Act.
REP. ERIC CANTOR [R-VA]: This bill will hopefully begin to ease some of the pain that working families are feeling.
ALEXANDER: The President was strikingly contrite.
OBAMA: I did not have enough awareness about the problems in the website...And again, that's on us which is why – that's on me. And that's why I'm trying to fix it.
ALEXANDER: Determination, even as President Obama's leadership comes under question.
OBAMA: I'm up to the challenge.
SUSAN PAGE [USA TODAY]: It's not just the future of the health care law at stake, it is really the future of his second term and his presidency.
ALEXANDER: And one House Democrat told NBC News, quote, "Someone's head ought to roll because of all this." For the first time, the President actually indicated there will be an intense evaluation, Savannah and Willie, a post-mortem of sorts when everything's said and done to see how we got to this place.
GUTHRIE: Yeah, a top advisor this morning in the paper saying they're taking it deathly seriously. Peter Alexander, thank you.
WILLIE GEIST: Savannah, you covered this White House for two and a half years, I cover it every morning across the street on Morning Joe. It was a remarkable press conference yesterday, talking about, "This is on me," he was humbled, he said, "I'm not a perfect man." I don't think we've seen this President Obama.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Political Pressure; President's Healthcare Mea Culpa]
GUTHRIE: You know what? Even friends and admirers of the President don't usually use the word "humble" in association with him, but I think that's the apt description this morning. I mean, you have to think about, this really goes to the core, not just of his agenda, that health care was the big part of his initiative when he came into office, but also the core of his political argument. He wanted to convince people that government can work to help people, government can be competent, and this undermines that very argument.
GEIST: And one of the most remarkable things that really struck me yesterday was he said, "I didn't know beforehand that the website wasn't going to work." So his staff allowed him to go out time and again and say, "We're going to be fine, we're going to be ready on October the 1st," knowing full well that there were problems in the pipeline.
GUTHRIE: You'd love to hear the conversations that are going on behind closed doors. And don't miss something else in that news conference yesterday, he said it was actually a week into the rollout, after the website was open, before they even grasped how serious these problems were.
GEIST: And how quickly things change. It was less than a month ago today, the shutdown was here, some people writing the obituaries of the Republican Party, that story has changed a lot this morning.
GUTHRIE: Very volatile politics we have.
— Kyle Drennen is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.