On Monday, the network morning shows were openly gleeful that former President Obama used his speech accepting a Profile in Courage Award from his liberal friends in the Kennedy family to trash Republican efforts to fix the mountain of problems created by ObamaCare. The ABC, CBS, and NBC broadcasts managed to ignore any of those failures as they cheered on Democratic efforts to use the issue to tear down the GOP.
ABC’s Good Morning America devoted three segments to the topic, with co-host and past Democratic operative George Stephanopoulos opening the show with this excited announcement: “Overnight, former President Obama takes aim at Republicans....Members of Congress come under fire....The angry town halls and now the new ads about to hit them hard at home.”
The anchor applauded how Obama was “defending his signature achievement” as “angry voters are pouring into town halls to question members of Congress about the bill.” In the report that followed, correspondent Cecilia Vega gushed: “President Obama is now joining in that growing chorus of opposition. This is the first time he has spoken out publicly since the House voted to overturn his health care plan.”
A soundbite ran of the former President demanding: “I hope that current members of Congress recall that it actually doesn’t take a lot of courage to aid those who are already powerful. But it does require some courage to champion the vulnerable.” Vega added: “The former president receiving the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in Boston, suggesting the fight is not over yet.”
The reporter then made sure to tout clips of left-wing protesters showing up a town hall meetings to attack Republican members of Congress: “But from Kansas and Idaho....New Jersey and New York....Republicans who backed the House health care bill facing fierce backlash.”
Vega concluded the one-sided segment by declaring: “Democrats are threatening to wage political war come the midterms...”
After the Democratic talking points were recited perfectly by Vega, co-host Robin Roberts turned to Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce and wondered: “And even though this bill is likely to change, that is not stopping Democrats from targeting Republicans who signed on this bill in the House.” Bruce replied:
Yeah, the left is intent on making sure that Republicans own this vote in the House and now there’s a new ad blitz out this morning targeting 24 House Republicans who voted for this bill. A pro-ObamaCare group spending more than half a million dollars with the goal of making Republicans own this vote, making them pay a political price.
Discussing the topic minutes later with Daily Beast editor John Avlon, Stephanopoulos eagerly anticipated doom for the GOP: “...Democrats licking their chops politically after the passage of this bill. And if history is any guide, generally after a vote like this the party who takes it loses some seats next time.”
Avlon agreed: “Yeah, that’s absolutely right. I mean, when a party has unified control that first midterm election has been a shellacking for them, especially when there’s a vote on these third-rail issues.”
However, he did offer a brief word of caution to cocky Democrats: “Look here’s the thing, Democrats may be getting a little bit out over their skis. This bill is unpopular, Republicans were focused on passing anything almost any cost. But now the Senate’s gonna take over and presumably temper some of the most polarizing aspects.”
But after hoping that the modest legislation would be watered even further, he joined Stephanopoulos in predicting Republican losses: “Republicans who are in districts that Hillary Clinton won are gonna be – have a walking dead sign on them coming into this middle-term election, there’s no question.”
At the top of CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O’Donnell proclaimed: “Former President Obama launches a new defense of his legacy, calling on Congress to show courage in the health care fight.” Introducing the subsequent report, fellow co-host Charlie Rose heralded: “Barack Obama strongly defended his health care legislation....[He] called on Congress to have the courage to do what is right, regardless of politics.”
Continuing with the fiction that Obama was somehow above politics while engaging in partisan sniping, correspondent Jan Crawford told viewers: “Accepting an award for courage, President Obama shared recognition with members of Congress who lost their seats supporting ObamaCare....Sticking to the theme of the night, the 44th president urged lawmakers to choose people over parties.”
Wrapping up the report, Crawford at least mentioned: “Now, Democrats including President Obama, didn’t fix issues with ObamaCare in last few years of his presidency...” However, she then used that failure to promote their political strategy against the GOP: “...and now they are banking on push back the Republican health care bill to help win back seats in Congress in 2018.”
Just prior to Crawford’s piece, White House Correspondent Major Garrett devoted a entire segment to deriding the Republican legislative effort:
This White House is obviously okay with spiking the ball when it believes it won....Well, this health care touchdown dance occurred sometime in the first quarter. And if you allow me to extend the metaphor, some on the President’s own team are now trashing his health care playbook....White House chief of staff Reince Priebus defended President Trump’s premature Rose Garden celebration, backslapping House Republicans for passing an ObamaCare appeal the Senate Republicans will summarily ignore.
On NBC’s Today, correspondent Peter Alexander hailed: “President Obama is speaking out, defending ObamaCare late Sunday while accepting the John F. Kennedy Foundation’s annual Profile in Courage Award, praising the lawmakers who voted for his signature achievement.” A clip ran of Obama celebrating the Democratic members of Congress who were wiped out in the 2010 and 2014 midterms because of his unpopular health care bill: “Theirs was a profile in courage. Because of that vote, 20 million people got health insurance who didn’t have it before. And most of them did lose their seats.”
Rather than actually point out the reasons for why ObamaCare was so detested by voters, Alexander instead segued to: “House Republicans are getting an earful from constituents at town halls nationwide.”
Here are transcripts of the May 8 ABC and CBS reports:
7:02 AM ET
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And overnight, former President Obama weighed in on the health care battle. He’s defending his signature achievement, which the House voted to repeal last week. And now, angry voters are pouring into town halls to question members of Congress about the bill. Our senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega starts us off with all the latest from Washington. Good morning, Cecilia.
CECILIA VEGA: George, good morning to you. President Obama is now joining in that growing chorus of opposition. This is the first time he has spoken out publicly since the House voted to overturn his health care plan. No mention of President Trump’s name.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Obama Takes Aim at Health Care Vote; GOP Lawmakers Face Backlash at Town Halls]
Overnight, President Obama speaking out for the first time since the House voted to repeal his signature piece of legislation.
BARACK OBAMA: I hope that current members of Congress recall that it actually doesn’t take a lot of courage to aid those who are already powerful. But it does require some courage to champion the vulnerable.
VEGA: The former president receiving the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in Boston, suggesting the fight is not over yet.
OBAMA: This great debate is not settled, but continues. And it is my fervent hope, and the hope of millions, that regardless of party, such courage is still possible.
VEGA: But from Kansas and Idaho –
PROTESTER: Health care is a human right!
VEGA: New Jersey and New York –
PROTESTER: I’m a veteran. Everyone here deserves single payer health care now!
VEGA: Republicans who backed the House health care bill facing fierce backlash.
PROTESTER: You are mandating people on Medicaid accept dying. You are making –
REP. RAUL LABRADOR [R-ID]: No one wants anybody to die. That line is so indefensible. Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.
VEGA: Crowds turning on members of Congress, forcing them to defend their vote.
REP. TOM REED [R-NY]: The bill protects the preexisting conditions –
CROWD: No! Liar!
VEGA: The architect of the plan, Speaker Paul Ryan, on the defensive too.
PAUL RYAN [ABC’s THIS WEEK]: You cannot be denied if you have a preexisting condition. And under this bill, you cannot only not be denied coverage, you can’t be charged higher –
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you can charge people more.
RYAN: Let me finish my point. You can’t charge people more if they keep continuous coverage.
VEGA: The Senate takes up the bill next. From his summer home in New Jersey, the President tweeted this weekend, “Republican senators will not let the American people down!” But some of those Republican Senators already say they do not support the bill as is.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS [R-ME]: The Senate is starting from scratch. We’re going to draft our own bill.
VEGA: And Democrats are threatening to wage political war come the midterms, but White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is brushing off those threats, Robin. He says he thinks the Republican Party will be rewarded.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Alright, we’ll see. Cecilia, thank you.
CBS This Morning
7:07 AM ET
CHARLIE ROSE: Barack Obama strongly defended his health care legislation. He spoke last night when he received the Profile in Courage award at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Mr. Obama called on Congress to have the courage to do what is right, regardless of politics. Jan Crawford is covering the President’s reentry into the health care debate. Jan, good morning.
JAN CRAWFORD: Goo morning, Charlie Well, you know, President Obama He did not mention President Trump by name in that more than 30 minute speech, but he did take the opportunity to defend the health care bill that he considered to be his main legislative legacy.
BARACK OBAMA: There was a reason why health care reform had not been accomplished before. It was hard.
CRAWFORD: Accepting an award for courage, President Obama shared recognition with members of Congress who lost their seats supporting ObamaCare.
OBAMA: These men and women did the right thing. They did the hard thing. There’s was a profile in courage. Because of that vote, 20 million people got health insurance who didn't have it before.
CRAWFORD: President Obama made no mention of his successor.
DONALD TRUMP: This is a repeal and replace of ObamaCare, make no mistake about it.
CRAWFORD: Who three days earlier celebrated a vote in the House to undo Mr. Obama's signature achievement and replace it with a plan Republicans say will be more effective long term.
OBAMA: I hope that current members of Congress recall that it actually doesn't take a lot of courage to aid those who are already powerful, but it does require some courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick.
CRAWFORD: Sticking to the theme of the night, the 44th president urged lawmakers to choose people over parties.
OBAMA: It is my fervent hope that today's members of Congress, regardless of party, are willing to look at facts and speak the truth, even when it contradicts party positions.
CRAWFORD: Now, Democrats including President Obama didn't fix issued with ObamaCare in last few years of his presidency, and now they are banking on push back the Republican health care bill to help win back seats in Congress in 2018. Today, President Obama heads to Italy to give a keynote address on climate change. Norah?