President Obama filled out his annual bracket for the NCAA Tournament and NPR’s All Things Considered predictably fawned over the “annual ritual” in which “President Obama” turned sports analyst today.” The online piece ha a similar cheerleading theme which proclaimed that “In ACA March Madness, Obama's Bracket Is Just A Role Player.”
On Wednesday March 19, NPR’s Audie Cornish gushed at how “It's not just the health of the Michigan State players on the president's mind. The White House is using this as part of its own full-court press. As NPR's Scott Horsley reports, their goal is to boost enrollment in the government's health insurance exchanges.” [Click here for audio.]
Reporter Scott Horsley then served as White House stenographer, pushing Obama talking points on the need to sign up for ObamaCare:
SCOTT HORSLEY: It's a big sports week at the White House. President Obama not only appeared on ESPN, he also dialed in to a Spanish-language sports channel run by Univision, where he was asked about soccer's World Cup and the fast approaching deadline to sign up for health insurance.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)
HORSLEY: The administration also unveiled a new 30-second TV ad that will air throughout the college basketball tournament.
(SOUNDBITE OF AD)
LEBRON JAMES: Hi. I'm LeBron James. I know how important it is to take care of yourself, your friends, and your family. That's why I want to tell you about the health insurance marketplace at healthcare.gov.
HORSLEY: So far, more than 5 million people have signed up on the website. Sports marketing expert Bob Dorfman says the administration is still trying to attract more young people, a notoriously difficult audience to reach.
BOB DORFMAN: It's a very elusive demographic. And if you listen to LeBron's spot, it's talking about anybody can get sick and have an emergency, trying to talk to people who sort of feel immune and carefree about it.
HORSLEY: Yesterday, the White House hosted a conference call to make the point that even healthy and athletic young people run the risk of injuries that can be costly if they don't have health insurance. James' Miami teammate Shane Battier did a quick inventory of the bumps and bruises he's suffered on the basketball court.
Horsley continued to hype Obama’s influence in the sports world:
HORSLEY: Dorfman, who writes the Sports Marketer's Scouting Report, says the White House effort to piggyback on March Madness makes sense, since the tournament attracts a cross-section of both serious and casual fans. Last year, the president's 2013 bracket was the most popular blog post all year on the White House website. Dorfman says it's natural for Obama, whose credentials as a sports fan are well established. The bigger stretch is for the celebrity athletes in the ads.
HORSLEY: Last summer, when the administration tried to draft the National Football League into promoting the insurance exchanges, Republican senators warned the league not to get drawn in to what they called one of the most divisive political issues of our day. Lawmakers sent similar warnings to Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL, the Professional Golf Association and NASCAR. So the administration turned to individual stars. Dorfman says LeBron James hasn't shied away from taking controversial stands and it doesn't seem to be hurting his shoe sales.
HORSLEY: The White House can only hope some of that winning spirit rubs off with 12 days to go before the buzzer sounds for the insurance exchange. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House.
Horsley couldn’t bother to push back against the Obama propaganda, instead choosing to place any potential backlash at the feet of the athletes involved in the ObamaCare ads. The NPR reporter sounded more like White House Press Secretary Jay Carney than an actual journalist as he proceeded to unapologetically sell ObamaCare.