ABC, NBC Finally Acknowledge Existence of Gruber Videos

It took nine days, but ABC and NBC finally covered the controversial videos of ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber making disparaging remarks about the American voters. 

Since the first video surfaced, CBS had been the only “big three” (ABC, CBS, and NBC) network to cover the Gruber video, but on Sunday, November 16 ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos and NBC’s Meet the Press briefly mentioned the videos. However, as of this writing, ABC and NBC’s morning and evening newscasts have yet to mention the Gruber controversy once. 

During an interview with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd appeared almost apologetic at having to ask his guest about the Gruber videos: 

I got to ask you about these comments from Jonathan Gruber. He’s of course, a lot of opponents of the Affordable Care Act have been pointing to these comments all week long. He's an MIT professor. He helped write the health care law both in Massachusetts. An adviser to the healthcare law and people that wrote it back when the Obama administration was working on it. I understand you didn't necessarily work with him very closely.

Todd did eventually concede that Gruber’s “playing into every fear that many conservatives had about this bill. That it’s not transparent, that there are things in it that people don't know. This certainly can't help a credibility gap” but for some reason felt the need to qualify his questioning by helping to distance Ms. Burwell from any connection to Gruber. 

Over on ABC, fill-in moderator Martha Raddatz and the entire This Week panel were much more critical of Gruber’s comments. Jonathan Karl, ABC’s Chief White House Correspondent, at first tried to minimize Gruber's involvement in the White House but eventually admitted that the architect profited off of ObamaCare. 

Look, Jonathan Gruber was not the legislative tactician, he was not on the White House staff but he did have $400,000 contract. By the way, ObamaCare has been very profitable to Jonathan Gruber. He had contracts for about the same with several other states, another $2 million in contracts on Medicare. This is a -- you know, this to Republicans is about as big a deal as you can get. 

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile continued ABC's criticism of Gruber:

We love gaffe politics and the first rule and I call it the Donna rule is that you never call voters stupid. The second rule is you never call voters stupid with a microphone and a camera. And the third rule is if you call voters stupid and you don't respect them, then you know what, you should get this kind of treatment on national television.

While ABC and NBC did cover Jonathan Gruber’s offensive comments on their Sunday morning political shows, unfortunately it took them nine days to mention it. One wonders if ABC and NBC's morning and evening newscasts will ever report on Gruber's comments or will they only exist on their Sunday morning talk shows. 

See relevant transcripts below. 

NBC's Meet the Press

November 16, 2014

CHUCK TODD: Alright, I got to ask you about these comments from Jonathan Gruber. He’s of course, a lot of opponents of the Affordable Care Act have been pointing to these comments all week long. He's an MIT professor. He helped write the health care law both in Massachusetts. An adviser to the healthcare law and people that wrote it back when the Obama administration was working on it. I understand you didn't necessarily work with him very closely. But I do want to have you take a listen and get you to respond. This is how Gruber explained taxing high-end cadillac health insurance plans and doing a little okie doke on the American public. Take a listen.

JONATHAN GRUBER: We just tax the insurance companies. They pass it on higher prices. That offsets the tax [sic] we get. It ends up being the same thing. It’s a very clever basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter. And they proposed it and that passed, because the American voter is too stupid to understand the difference. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, you know call it the stupidity of the American voter, whatever. But basically, that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass. So what does this bill do? This bill takes what I call the spaghetti approach. Which is takes a bunch of ideas that might work and throws them against the wall and we see what sticks. 

TODD: He’s playing into every fear that many conservatives had about this bill. That it’s not transparent, that there are things in it that people don't know. This certainly can't help a credibility gap. 

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: I have to start with how fundamentally I disagree with his comments about the bill and about the American people. Since I've been at the department, one of the things that I focused on is transparency, making sure that all our numbers come out whether they’re good or bad. And the other thing is that the law is based on the issues of transparency and belief in the American people and choices in the marketplace.

This past week, since we have had window shopping on, over a million people have come to the site and done window shopping. Because what they are doing is they are comparing. They are comparing based on premiums. They are comparing based on deductibility. When you give the American people the tools to make the right choices for themselves they’re going to do that. And that’s what this is about. From the issue of actually the consumer to the fact that we have put out information so that people can see what providers are receiving from pharmaceuticals. 

TODD: He said spaghetti at the wall. And he said that with -- it was the week the healthcare law passed. Is that what this bill is, to see what works and what doesn't? 

MATHEWS BURWELL: This law is a piece of legislation that's about three fundamental things. And these are things that have bipartisan agreement. Affordability, access and quality. That's what the American people want. And actually there's bipartisan agreement. The bill has a lot of different pieces. You touched on many of them -- many of them and people know about them/ Whether its closing the Medicare doughnut hole. And there are 8 million American seniors that benefited from that $11 billion. There are so many parts of this law that target those three fundamental things.
TODD: Is Mr. Gruber going to be welcomed back as a consultant? 

MATHEWS BURWELL: Certainly right now in terms of the work that we're doing at HHS, we're doing our work and focusing on what we are doing and our modeling. 

TODD: So he’s not welcome back? 

MATHEWS BURWELL: With regard to Mr. Gruber and his comments, I think I've been clear. That's something we fundamentally disagree with.

TODD: Madam Secretary, thanks for coming on “Meet the Press.”

MATHEWS BURWELL: Thank you. 

 

ABC’s This Week w/ George Stephanopoulos

November 16, 2014

MARTHA RADDATZ: I want to move to some very controversial comments this week by Jonathan Gruber, architect of ObamaCare. Listen to this. 

JONATHAN GRUBER: Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage and basically, you know, call it the stupidity American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass. 

RADDATZ: Ouch, Jon Karl. 

JONATHAN KARL: Yeah, and, you know, this also kills any chance there would be of Republicans wanting to king of mend, not end ObamaCare. This plays right into the narrative of how this law was passed. Look, Jonathan Gruber was not the legislative tactician, he was not on the White House staff but he did have $400,000 contract. By the way, ObamaCare has been very profitable to Jonathan Gruber. He had contracts for about the same with several other states, another $2 million in contracts on Medicare. This is a -- you know, this to Republicans is about as big a deal as you can get. 

RADDATZ: And we pass to the Republican here.  

ANA NAVARRO: I can't even process these statements because just his -- the elitism, the disdain that he shows towards the American voters are something that should be really disturbing to every American regardless of whether you are a Democrat or Republican or, you know, independent. Whether you're for ObamaCare or against ObamaCare. I think we should rename this movie collection because now we’re up to like 6 videos which for me is like a movie collection. The stupidity of Jonathan Gruber. 

KARL: This was part of his stump speech. He was saying this over and over again.

DONNA BRAZILE: But you know what, we should be talking about the enrollment. The enrollment is back open again —
RADDATZ: I was just going to bring that up. 

BRAZILE: And millions of Americans have —

KARL:  Started yesterday. 

BRAZILE: Thank you. Millions of Americans -- 

NAVARRO: Bad timing for these videos. 

BRAZILE: Of course, but, you know, we love gaffe politics and the first rule and I call it the Donna rule is that you never call voters stupid. The second rule is you never call voters stupid with a microphone and a camera. And the third rule is if you call voters stupid and you don't respect them, then you know what, you should get this kind of treatment on national television. We have so much to be proud of over this ObamaCare despite all of the problems and, unfortunately, he can't talk about that, instead, you know, he insulted the voters. 

Medical Insurance ABC This Week NBC Meet the Press Martha Raddatz Jonathan Karl Chuck Todd Jonathan Gruber