CNN Rebukes Guest for Calling Obama's False Insurance Guarantee a 'Lie'

CNN is still giving President Obama the extreme benefit of the doubt over his false promise that Americans could keep their insurance under ObamaCare.

The President added words to his promise on Tuesday, that Americans could keep their insurance "if it hasn't changed since the law passed." Anchor Ashleigh Banfield then suggested he call his initial promise an "oversight" and rebuked conservative guest Will Cain who called it a "lie."

"They did know," said Cain on Tuesday of the administration's foresight that millions would lose their insurance under ObamaCare. "It was not a mistake. It was a lie. You cannot portray this in any other way." Banfield shot back, "That's pretty strident language to say it was a lie."

"Why on earth isn't the President coming out, instead of tweaking the language, saying maybe this is an oversight and maybe this is a problem?" Banfield asked.

Yet it is clear that the administration knew ObamaCare regulations would force insurance companies to drop millions of plans. Additionally, regulations were so narrow for plans that would be "grandfathered" in under ObamaCare, that "most plans" would not qualify.

Yet CNN excused the administration as just ignorant rather than dishonest. "[I]t's like they didn't know the grandfathering was actually accept step-grandfathering. How did that big detail get missed?" Banfield wondered.  

"[M]aybe I'm a bit of a Pollyanna. But I don't like to suggest that plans are launched with lies," Banfield insisted. "I just don't like you saying it's a lie when you were not there devising that policy," she admonished Cain.

White House correspondent Brianna Keilar joined Banfield in reporting that the administration was ignorant, not dishonest. "Basically in the face that that promise could not be kept ultimately, and that it just wasn't as simple from that, we've heard from President Obama last night at an OFA event," Keilar innocently reported.

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on CNN Newsroom on November 5 at 9:33 a.m. EDT:

CNN
NEWSROOM
11/5/13
[9:33 a.m. EDT]

BRIANNA KEILAR, senior White House correspondent: "If it hasn't changed since the law passed." That is what he added. Today, Carol, Republicans are seizing on this, saying that President Obama didn't have that caveat on there before. And it's true, he didn't have that caveat on his statement before. We've seen some messaging changes at the White House and with President Obama. Initially it was those little sound bites that you played. The "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan." And then we heard last week President Obama saying if you liked your substandard plan that was in place before, you know, ObamaCare passed and you want to keep it, you can keep it. But what's obviously changed is that even though some of those plans were grandfathered in, Carol, when the law passed in 2010, if an insurance company made a change to one of those plans, what's considered a significant change – so that under the law is opened to obviously some interpretation – if they made a significant change, then the plan does have to go by the wayside and insurance companies have to provide another one.

So what you're seeing right now is a lot of people who have gotten these cancellations. Now, the White House will say a lot of people, yes, but it's really just a small sliver of people who are purchasing their insurance and that these are people that haven't been served well by the individual insurance market before. But at the same time, they are getting cancellations. And the huge problem here for the White House, for President Obama is that they can't necessarily take their cancellation and say, okay, well what are my other options? Because the federal marketplace for purchasing insurance, ObamaCare, is such a mess that they can't as easily just turn to see maybe what their other option may be, Carol.

(...)

[10:03]

KEILAR: Good morning. Basically in the face that that promise could not be kept ultimately, and that it just wasn't as simple from that, we've heard from President Obama last night at an OFA event – that's his former campaign apparatus which is now a non-profit advocacy group which is working on ObamaCare and promoting it – President Obama spoke at an OFA event and here was the change that he made.

(Video Clip)

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: If you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, and we said you could keep it, if it hasn't changed since the law was passed.

(End Video Clip)

(...)

[11:02]

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD: You have heard this one over and over again. Right? If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it. Last night, though, hmm, that presidential promise got a wee bit of a tweak. Our senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar is live at the White House. Some might say it's a bit of semantics. But you know what, Brianna? That tweak is really loud, and it's echoing across the country right now.

(...)

BANFIELD: When you think back over the last few years to the number of appearances and speeches that have been given that have been so emphatic, you've got to wonder, how could anyone not have known that there would be this strange grandfathering problem? Have a listen real quickly, Brianna, to the way it's been depicted for the last few years.

(...)

BANFIELD: But Brianna, it's like they didn't know the grandfathering was actually step-grandfathering. How did that big detail get missed?

(...)

WILL CAIN: The conversation you had with Brianna a little earlier, you talked about how could they not have known? How could they not have known about this grandfathering provision that makes the President's statement "If you like your health care plan you can keep it. Period," makes it false? They did know. It was not a mistake. It was a lie. You cannot portray this in any other way. It was a lie. It was intended –  

BANFIELD: That's pretty strident language to say it was a lie.  

CAIN: But it's true.

BANFIELD: How do you know that?

CAIN: Because it was put in place for two reasons. Two calculated reasons they needed. Number one, it was designed to destroy the individual health care market because they needed those people to go into the ObamaCare Healthcare.gov exchanges. Why did they need people to go in there? Number one, they thought it was better. They thought ObamaCare provided better plans than those that were available on the individual market. Two, they needed those young healthy people, those people that are not sick, that do not have pre-existing conditions to go in, to offset the problems --
 
BANFIELD: I hear all that. You know what, Will? I hear all that. But for you to say – for you to say – maybe I'm a bit of a Pollyanna. But I don't like to suggest that plans are launched with lies. Let me get Marc Lamont Hill on here. Marc, this is disastrous. The website was very problematic. This is a very big problem, because there are real people getting those real notices. Why on earth isn't the President coming out, instead of tweaking the language, saying maybe this is an oversight and maybe this is a problem?

(...)

CAIN: You know, I actually – if I actually –

BANFIELD: Real quickly, last comment. Very quickly.  

CAIN: We agreed – that is ObamaCare working. That's not why it's not stridency for stridency's sake's that I make the statement that it's a lie. It was intended for this purpose, it was sold under a different language. That is an untruth. An untruth is a lie.

BANFIELD: I just don't like you saying it's a lie when you were not there devising that policy.

CAIN: I can hear truth. I can hear falsehoods.

BANFIELD: In a court of law, you'd be run out of the room.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014