‘Staggering Uncertainty’: Nets Freak Out After ObamaCare Ruled Unconstitutional

On Monday, the network morning shows were replete with doomsday predictions as anchors and correspondents hyperventilated over a Texas federal judge ruling ObamaCare to be unconstitutional. Rather than report on the substance of the judge’s ruling or the numerous problems with the controversial health care law, reporters instead behaved like Democratic Party operatives as they trashed Republicans and touted former President Obama joining the political fray.

Co-host George Stephanopoulos introduced a report on the topic for ABC’s Good Morning America by decrying “that surprise ruling from a Texas judge that could put the Affordable Care Act in jeopardy.” The anchor sounded the alarm as he hailed Barack Obama coming to the rescue: “Striking down the law has created staggering uncertainty for the millions who rely on it, sparking condemnation and calls to action from Democrats, led by former President Obama.”

 

 

Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran saw the legal and political debate as an opportunity to bash the Trump administration and Republicans:

President Trump has long promised to repeal and replace ObamaCare, and this huge decision gives him the opportunity to do just that. The downside is that now he and the Republicans who have been fighting to abolish this law for the better part of a decade, they’re responsible for what happens to health care next, and they don’t have a plan.

Echoing the fearmongering from Stephanopoulos, Moran worried: “This morning, health care for millions of Americans could be in jeopardy after that blockbuster ruling by a Texas judge striking down ObamaCare.”

After briefly noting President Trump calling on Republicans and Democrats to work together to pass bipartisan health care reform, the reporter quickly turned to liberal politicians throwing rhetorical bombs. A soundbite ran of Illinois Senator Dick Durbin proclaiming: “If you’re going to take away the Affordable Care Act, how will you protect the millions of people currently using it for health insurance for their family?”

Moments later, Moran seized on a social media post from Obama condemning the GOP: “President Obama responded with a blistering post on Facebook, writing, ‘A lot of good people are fighting to ensure that nothing about your care will change. But all of this should also be a reminder that Republicans will never stop trying to undo all that.’”

In addition to the ranting from Democrats, the segment featured not one, but two on-screen headlines meant to scare viewers:

Health Care Battle; Coverage for Millions in Question After Bombshell Ruling

Judge Strikes Down ObamaCare; Will Millions of Americans Lose Health Insurance?

“There was a federal judge in Texas who declared ObamaCare unconstitutional. A lot of people who have it wondering what’s gonna happen to them,” fretted co-host Hoda Kotb on NBC’s Today show. At first, correspondent Hallie Jackson assured that “nothing happens to them for now,” but then sounded the alarm: “Now, if the ruling does stand, by that Texas judge, and ObamaCare is overturned, this would affect practically every part of health care coverage in this country and affect millions of Americans.”

On CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O’Donnell was dismayed as “the White House cheers at a federal court ruling calling ObamaCare unconstitutional.” In the report that followed, correspondent Paula Reid feared:

...this would have enormous ramifications for Americans and the health care industry. It is estimated that as many as 17 million Americans could lose their insurance. Now, different components of the act that could be in jeopardy include Medicare, Medicaid, preexisting conditions, and employee-sponsored insurance. Now, according to a 2017 report, a repeal could also increase premiums by as much as 25%.

The remarkably reckless suggestion that long-term government programs separate from ObamaCare, like Medicare and Medicaid, would be “in jeopardy” only served to frighten viewers.

Later on the broadcast, at the top of the 8:00 a.m. ET hour, O’Donnell added to the irresponsible hype: “If the decision is upheld, it would eliminate protections for nearly 20 million Americans who are insured through ObamaCare. Now that could upset the entire health care system.”

CBS News Business Analyst Jill Schlesinger worried about people “freaking out” over the news:

And so now, if this is ruled unconstitutional, if it’s dismantled, it’s not the 20 million or so who have ObamaCare who are impacted, it is also the folks who have preexisting conditions. A health care expert I spoke with yesterday said to me his big concern is that because these changes are looming, people are really gonna start freaking out about it and they really – they shouldn’t yet. But this is a big concern.

Even after saying that, just moments later, Schlesinger promoted that very anxiety: “...if those things aren’t covered, maybe we go back to a pre-Affordable Care Act era where people are not covered for as much, but not only that, we could see this actually dramatically impact people...”

She wrapped up the segment by announcing: “I don’t want to make everybody nuts about it because there’s nothing to do today....But it is really going to impact millions of people.”

Based on the tenor of the coverage across all three networks, the media are clearly trying to get people to “start freaking out” about even the possibility of ObamaCare being struck down.  

Here is a full transcript of Moran’s December 17 report on Today:

7:03 AM ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: To Washington and that government shutdown looming just days before Christmas. Both sides are digging in, with President Trump demanding $5 billion for his border wall. Democrats refusing to give a dime, congressional Republicans caught in the middle. Without a deal, parts of the government will shut down Friday at midnight. About a quarter of the government without funding and hundreds of thousands of federal employees would not get paid during the holidays.

And this comes after that surprise ruling from a Texas judge that could put the Affordable Care Act in jeopardy. Striking down the law has created staggering uncertainty for the millions who rely on it, sparking condemnation and calls to action from Democrats, led by former President Obama. Our Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran covering it all from the White House. And Terry, President Trump praised the ruling.

TERRY MORAN: That’s right, George. President Trump has long promised to repeal and replace ObamaCare, and this huge decision gives him the opportunity to do just that. The downside is that now he and the Republicans who have been fighting to abolish this law for the better part of a decade, they’re responsible for what happens to health care next, and they don’t have a plan.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Health Care Battle; Coverage for Millions in Question After Bombshell Ruling]

This morning, health care for millions of Americans could be in jeopardy after that blockbuster ruling by a Texas judge striking down ObamaCare. President trump declaring victory, and predicting a quick fix, saying...

DONALD TRUMP: If the Republicans and the Democrats get together, we are going to end up with incredible health care, which is the way it should have been from day one, and it’s gonna happen. It now has a chance to happen.

MORAN: But across the aisle, top lawmakers are already gearing up for a fight.

SEN. DICK DURBIN [D-IL]: If you’re going to take away the Affordable Care Act, how will you protect the millions of people currently using it for health insurance for their family?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Judge Strikes Down ObamaCare; Will Millions of Americans Lose Health Insurance?

MORAN: The judge’s decision, which came down on Friday night, declared that the individual mandate requiring all Americans to buy health insurance is unconstitutional. And he also struck down the rest of the Affordable Care Act, including mandatory coverage for pre-existing conditions and guaranteed “essential health benefits,” like prescription drugs and pregnancy care.

President Obama responded with a blistering post on Facebook, writing, “A lot of good people are fighting to ensure that nothing about your care will change. But all of this should also be a reminder that Republicans will never stop trying to undo all that.”

But the White House says they expect the final outcome to be settled in the Supreme Court.

Okay, right now, and this is important, there will be no immediate changes to anyone’s health care while this ruling is appealed and works its way through the courts, and that could take time. But this could be the beginning of the end for ObamaCare, and that does mean that the Congress has to get to work because it has such a huge impact on so many people. George?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: All across the country. 


Please support NewsBusters today! [a 501(c)(3) non-profit production of the Media Research Center]

DONATE

Or, book travel through MRC’s Travel Discounts Program! MRC receives a rebate for each booking when you use our special codes.

BOOK NOW

NBDaily Health Care Medical Insurance Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats ABC Good Morning America CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Video George Stephanopoulos Terry Moran Hallie Jackson Norah O'Donnell