In a nakedly political move designed to ease election year pressure on Democrats, the Obama administration has delayed, yet again, another aspect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and again  the Big Three networks have barely covered it.
The White House’s March 5 announcement that they would allow insurers to keep offering health plans that don’t meet ObamaCare standards was granted a total of just four minutes and 33 seconds on the ABC, CBS, NBC evening and morning shows. And while all three networks commented on the election-year timing of the announcement, not a single anchor or reporter depicted the move as an unconstitutional end-around Congress.
♦ NBC had the least amount of coverage on the delay, offering just a 23-second brief by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on March 5: “And about that promise by the President, ‘if you like your health care plan you can keep it.’ The White House announced late today that some will now be able to keep their plans for another two years before they have to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans immediately cried foul, calling it a political move to prevent cancellation notices from showing up in the mail just before the midterm elections this fall.” Williams never brought up the objection that Obama was, once again, going around Congress to change the law on the fly.
On that same program Williams determined there was a more pressing issue that required more time: the rescue operation of Corvettes trapped in a sinkhole. A full two minutes and 20 seconds were devoted to a full report by NBC’s Gabe Guiterrez on the sports car recovery operation at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
♦ ABC’s coverage of the ObamaCare delay clocked in at a total of one minute and 47 seconds. ABC’s Diane Sawyer on the March 5 World News relayed: “And a note, today, out of Washington. The White House announced, it's official. If you like your old health care plan, you can keep it for another two years. Even if the plan does not meet the new requirements for insurance under ObamaCare. The deadline had already been extended by one year. Now, a two-year deadline.” No one at ABC mentioned Obama’s imperious move around Congress.
The next morning’s edition of ABC’s Good Morning America offered just one full report and a brief on the ObamaCare delay. However, they did find a scandal that was deserving of more time: dry cleaners ripping off their customers. The March 6 Good Morning America devoted a full two minutes and 22 seconds on Rebecca Jarvis’s expose in a segment headlined: “Dry Cleaners’ Dirty Secrets.”
♦ CBS offered the most amount of time to the ObamaCare delay in the form of a 2 minute and 35 second-long segment on the March 5 CBS This Morning. Anchor Charlie Rose teased the Jan Crawford story: “This morning, critics of the President's health care law have a new target for anger, another major delay. The Obama administration will allow insurers to continue offering bare-bones plans, even if they don't comply with the minimum standards.” While Crawford noted that move was being made just “before the midterm elections,” no one at CBS brought up the Constitutional implications.
However the folks at CBS found a hot topic that deserved much more time than the latest ObamaCare fail: yet another online dating site! Anchor Gayle King teased, on the March 5 CBS This Morning: “There are now fifteen hundred dating sites. But the one with a lot of buzz isn’t really even a web page. It’s a matchmaking app called Tinder. Ben Tracy went to the University of Southern California where Tinder first got its spark.” Total amount of time talking about Tinder: a whopping 5 minutes and 50 seconds.
— Geoffrey Dickens is Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.