ABC, NBC Ignore D.C. Insurance Commissioner's Firing; CBS Covers

Monday's CBS This Morning is the sole Big Three newscast so far to cover the firing of William P. White, a day after the now former D.C. official criticized President Obama's plan to let insurers temporarily restore canceled health insurance policies for a year. Nancy Cordes revealed how "D.C.'s insurance commissioner was abruptly fired by the city's Democratic mayor...after he warned that reinstating canceled plans 'undercuts the purpose' of the new health care exchanges." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]

Cordes's mention of Mayor Vincent Gray sacking the commissioner came a day after the Washington Post buried their story on the firing on page C7 of its Metro section on Sunday.

The CBS correspondent led her report by touting how the ObamaCare "website problems...canceled plans, and fears about rising costs next year...are causing so many problems for Democrats right now, and erasing the political advantage and party unity that they gained after the government shutdown last month." She added that "top House Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, insisted Sunday her party won't retreat from the President's biggest legislative achievement."

Cordes continued by pointing out that "still, there are signs Democrats are nervous. One day after President Obama announced he would let insurers reinstate canceled plans....one-fifth of House Democrats ignored a White House veto and joined House Republicans to pass a bill that would not just reinstate the plans, but allow new people to sign up for them." She included a soundbite from one of the House Democrats who voted for the GOP proposal.

Later in the segment, the journalist zeroed in on White's firing, just after she underlined how "insurance commissioners from Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington State have already said they won't go along with the President's so-called fix".

On Thursday's CBS Evening News, Cordes also stood out for featuring extended clips from a hearing where three Republican representatives grilled Obama administration officials over the ObamaCare launch debacle. Cordes played 51 seconds of footage from the congressional hearing – nearly twice the combined amount aired on ABC's World News and NBC Nightly News.

The full transcript of Nancy Cordes's report from Monday's CBS This Morning:

NORAH O'DONNELL: Obama administration officials promise the federal health care website will run smoothly by the end of next week. But that may be too late for some Democratic lawmakers. Many are feeling some of the negative fallout from the health care troubles, and they're being forced to take political cover.

Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill. Nancy, good morning.

NANCY CORDES: Good morning, Norah and Charlie. You're right. It's really that combination – not just of the website problems, but canceled plans and fears about rising costs next year – that are causing so many problems for Democrats right now, and erasing the political advantage and party unity that they gained after the government shutdown last month.

[CBS News Graphic: "Questioning The Fix: Some Dems Siding With GOP On Obama Insurance Move"]

CORDES (voice-over): The top House Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, insisted Sunday her party won't retreat from the President's biggest legislative achievement.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D), CALIFORNIA: I don't think it's in trouble. I think we just have to remain calm, get through the website getting fixed – clarify some misrepresentations about it.

CORDES: Still, there are signs Democrats are nervous. One day after President Obama announced he would let insurers reinstate canceled plans-


UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1 (from proceedings on the House of Representatives floor): The House will come to order.

CORDES: One-fifth of House Democrats ignored a White House veto and joined House Republicans to pass a bill that would not just reinstate the plans, but allow new people to sign up for them.

West Virginia's Nick Rahall was one of those Democrats.

CORDES (on-camera): Did you vote yes because you think that the President didn't go far enough?

REP. NICK RAHALL, (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I voted yes – perhaps, that was part of the reason, but the main reason was, I'm not sure he had the legal underpinning to do what he did.

CORDES (voice-over): The insurance industry says the President's move has created confusion, and that the Republican bill would, too. Insurance commissioners from Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington State have already said they won't go along with the President's so-called fix. D.C.'s insurance commissioner was abruptly fired by the city's Democratic mayor Friday, after he warned that reinstating canceled plans 'undercuts the purpose' of the new health care exchanges 'by creating exceptions that make it more difficult for them to operate'.

Republicans are capitalizing on the uncertainty, predicting ObamaCare's problems will only grow between now and next November's elections.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSSO, (R), WYOMING (from interview on CNN's "State of the Union"): I think there's going to be a massive taxpayer bailout needed just to deal with the – the impact of this health care law-

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN (off-camera): Right-

BARRASSO: This is not what the American people wanted. The President did not need to destroy a good health care system.

CORDES (live): A group of Senate Democrats is considering its own legislative fix to these canceled plans. That group is comprised primarily by Democrats who are facing reelection in 2014. And Norah and Charlie, it's not clear right now whether Senate Democratic leaders will let that plan move forward this week.

O'DONNELL All right – interesting. Nancy, thank you.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center