In a refreshing change of pace, CNN's John King skeptically wondered on Tuesday's New Day about the White House touting the five million "enrollments" in ObamaCare: "They wanted to get the seven million by March 31 – unlikely they'll get there....How important are the next couple of weeks, and...if they get to six, can they spin that as a success, or is this baked in as a failure?"
King later pointed out that "even if they get some policy numbers that point them toward success – maybe not where they wanted to get, but close to that – can they change the political dynamic out in the country? Because if you go to these key states, it seems like ObamaCare is still a liability." Despite this, New Day anchor John Berman still trumpeted the five million figure: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
JOHN BERMAN: A major milestone for ObamaCare, as we head toward the March 31 deadline for coverage this year – the White House now says more than five million Americans have signed up. That's one million in just the last two weeks. That is an encouraging pace to the White House, no doubt, considering the program had such a rocky rollout. But it is still expected to fall short of the seven million that administration officials had initially hoped for.
CBS This Morning used the same "milestone" label later in the morning during a news brief. Berman gave a second news brief on ObamaCare later in the program, and spotlighted that "despite this strong finish, however, it seems the administration's early goal of reaching seven million sign-ups by then is likely out of reach."
King brought up the ObamaCare figure during a segment with Carol Lee of the Wall Street Journal and Time political reporter Zeke Miller. He noted how "the enrollment deadline is at the end of the month. The administration put out new numbers yesterday. They say they're at five million now." He continued by underlining that the Obama White House "wanted about 40 percent to be younger – get younger, healthier people in the system to make the finances of it work. They're at 25 percent earlier in the month."
When the CNN journalist asked his "spin that as a success, or is this baked in as a failure" question, Lee replied that "if they get to six, they will spin it as a success – and it's still a significant amount of people. What's interesting, is all of the stops that they're trying to pull out to get young people to sign up...that's a real problem for them, because that's the only way that this system is actually going to work."
King then highlighted the "Zach Galifianakis, LeBron James, the President's NCAA bracket" efforts targeted at young adults in order for them to sign up for ObamaCare, and added that "a lot of people say it's beneath the presidency." Miller answered, in part, by pointing out that the Republican Party will use these celebrity-driven promotions in the mid-term congressional races:
ZEKE MILLER, TIME POLITICAL REPORTER: ...It all comes down to just how much will premiums have to rise next year? And we saw – you know, Kathleen Sebelius last week on the Hill saying – you know, premiums are likely to rise next year, but maybe not as much as they would before the law.
Regardless, that's, sort of, a powerful clip for Republicans to use....they're going to, sort of, pair the President, sort of, joking around with late night comedians and doing all these goofy things that the White House is doing to reach out to some of the target demographic here...At the same time, they're going to marry that with – you know, the fact that – you know, premiums are going to rise for some people. You know, you are going to have to change your doctor, in some instances, like the President said last week. So, that's going to be some really tough juxtaposition for them.
King ended the ObamaCare portion of the segment with his "ObamaCare is still a liability" line.
[Update: the transcript of the relevant portion of the John King segment from Tuesday's New Day on CNN is available on MRC.org.]