Fmr PBS Media Critic: Obama 'Has a Point' Claiming Press Is Hostile to Obamacare

On Sunday's Reliable Sources, former PBS and CBS reporter Terence Smith said President Obama "has a point" when complaining of media malpractice in covering ObamaCare.

"I think, in fact, in this case, the President has a point, however, that headlines like that, 'Disaster,' you're labeling ObamaCare before it has a chance," insisted Smith, who once defended the legacy of Jimmy Carter while ripping Reagan's management of government.

Liberal NY1 host  Errol Louis went even further, saying that MSNBC's ultra-liberal Obama sycophant Ed Schultz made a "good point" when he had claimed that the "mainstream media, I believe, wants ObamaCare to fail."

"I mean, my friend, Ed Schultz, in his own inimitable fashion, I think has a good point," claimed Louis, who pointed to "the New York Post, which has inveighed against this from the time the concept even, you know, came out of Obama's mouth five years ago."

Louis added that "there is a public service requirement" for the press to report ObamaCare's benefits:

"When Social Security came out, when Medicare came out, when Medicaid came out, there's a media responsibility to explain this to their readers, to their audience, to their viewers. This is important. It will help people."

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on Reliable Sources on November 17 at 11:17 a.m. EDT:

FRANK SESNO: You know, it really does take us right directly to what President Obama said this past week when he was talking about ObamaCare and doing this news conference. And he said, you know, the things that go right you guys aren't going to write about. The things that go wrong get prominent attention. This was his big news coverage. He took a bit of a mea culpa. The next day, Washington Post, "Obama offers an insurance fix". The next day, The New York Post, "Disaster", it says, "unmitigated disaster." This whole issue of media coverage of Obamacare, making it worse? Making it better? Piling on? Dylan, your take?

DYLAN BYERS: I think that the role of the fourth estate is to challenge government, is to challenge the President. I think there's a lot that has gone right with ObamaCare. I think that in today's media environment you can find that news. That news is often on the front page of The New York Times. It's also the role of the media to challenge Obama where he's made mistakes. The White House will be the first people to admit that the ObamaCare rollout has been an unmitigated disaster. That's our role to cover it.

ERROL LOUIS: But there's –  

SESNO: Errol, hang on a second. I want to roll in the Ed Schultz comment that he made the other day. And I want you to respond to that, because this is right in your face.

(Video Clip)

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC: The mainstream media, I believe, wants Obamacare to fail. They look for every negative number they can find. They're afraid to do a positive story because they're afraid that somebody might not watch. (Chuckles) The media is just cherry-picking the bad facts that are out there, repeating them over and over again, and in many cases they are making stuff up.

(End Video Clip)

LOUIS: I mean, my friend, Ed Schultz, in his own inimitable fashion, I think has a good point. I mean, he's basically –  

SESNO: He has a good point. The media wants ObamaCare to fail –  

(Crosstalk)

LOUIS: I mean, look, there are elements. You held up The New York Post, which has inveighed against this from the time the concept even, you know, came out of Obama's mouth five years ago. So, his is not something that is – so there is that. But I think also – I mean, there is a public service requirement here. I mean, we're talking about the Gettysburg retraction. When Social Security came out, when Medicare came out, when Medicaid came out, there's a media responsibility to explain this to their readers, to their audience, to their viewers. This is important. It will help people.

SESNO: It has not sufficiently happened, Terry?

SMITH: No. I mean, the fact is there are many people who want Obamacare to fail. And they are mostly on the other side of the aisle. The media, you can't throw them in the same soup. I think, in fact, in this case, the President has a point, however, that headlines like that, "Disaster," you're labeling Obamacare before it has a chance.

SESNO: So, Lynn, let me lean on you, because you have been reporting on Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, call it what you want. And isn't it true that your stories, like most of the stories certainly coming from this town, are predominantly obsessed with the politics of it, the criticism of it, what's not working as opposed to explaining to people the policy and particulars?

SWEET: And which we've done. Let's look at the whole picture here. And that's where I think President Obama was so – he should have quit while he was ahead at that press conference. This is a story that local papers throughout the country have embraced, come October 1. I bet almost every local outlet did something to try and educate people, go to the Web site, do this, do that. Okay? People, I think publications and reporters knew the obligations that you are all talking about to help the public no matter your politics. And, yeah, my columns have been doing, reflecting the story. Botched rollout.

SESNO: Very quickly.

BYERS: Politics and policy are both things that get covered. If you want policy, there are places to go to read about it. If you want politics, there are places to go read about it. The politics of this are disastrous for the Obama White House and that's going to be covered. And it's going to be covered 24/7.

SESNO: The politics are disastrous. The technology has been disastrous. The signup has been disastrous so far.

BYERS: That's a story.

SESNO: So far.

BYERS: Right. And if it gets better, the coverage will change.

LOUIS: And then it vanishes from the front page.

SWEET: And then history will judge it not this first month.
 

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