PBS NewsHour Mentions ‘Worry’ From Supporters, Omits Union Criticism of ObamaCare

PBS led off Thursday’s NewsHour with a story about President Obama’s efforts to defend his healthcare law amid increasing public skepticism. But the taxpayer-funded network managed to avoid mentioning the recent harsh criticism of the law from three prominent labor union leaders, despite a vague reference to “worry from some supporters.”

Anchor Jeffrey Brown, who narrated the package, acknowledged, “Today's speech was part of a broader effort to sell the law that comes amid continuing criticism from Republicans and worry from some supporters about its implementation.”


Brown went on to explain the continuing criticism from Republicans. He reported that the House of Representatives voted once again to delay the individual mandate, making sure to point out that it was the 38th time those silly Republicans had tried to repeal or scale back ObamaCare in some way. He played sound bites from Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.), both of whom oppose ObamaCare.

However, Brown never elaborated on the aforementioned “worry from some supporters about its implementation.” He never cited any early supporters who were now worried about the implementation of the law.

There was no mention of the harsh criticism unleashed on ObamaCare last week by James Hoffa, Joseph Hansen, and Donald Taylor – the leaders of the Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers International, and Unite-Here, respectively. These three major union leaders expressed betrayal in a scathing letter to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Democratic leaders in Congress. They were initially supporters of the health care law, as they admitted in their letter, but now they have realized that the law has unintended consequences that will "shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40-hour workweek that is the backbone of the American middle class."

As NewsBusters has reported, the mainstream media have largely ignored this criticism from a group of people widely considered to be staunch Obama allies. If PBS and other outlets are interested in being fair, they must report on this letter and with it the growing dissatisfaction with ObamaCare within the liberal Democratic coalition.

Below is a full transcript of the package:

JEFFREY BROWN: Much of the public remains skeptical or unaware, an important component has been delayed, and Republicans continue their attempts to derail it. But President Obama again today offered a strong defense of his signature healthcare reform law. His remarks came as deadlines approach for its implementation.

[Begin tape]: President Obama ratcheted up his campaign to sell the healthcare law today in a speech in the East Room of the White House.

BARACK OBAMA: The Affordable Care Act is doing what it's designed to do: deliver more choices, better benefits, a check on rising costs, and higher-quality health care.

BROWN: The president highlighted a relatively obscure part of the law, which he himself now regularly refers to as Obamacare, that requires insurers to spend 80 percent of premium dollars on medical care or send rebates to their customers.

OBAMA: I bet if you took a poll, most folks wouldn't know when that check comes in that this was because of Obamacare that they got this extra money in their pockets. But that’s what’s happening.

BROWN: Today's speech was part of a broader effort to sell the law that comes amid continuing criticism from Republicans and worry from some supporters about its implementation. Health insurance exchanges – one of the law’s central components – begin to open October 1.

OBAMA: New online marketplaces will allow consumers to go online and compare private health care insurance plans, just like you'd compare over the Internet the best deal on flat-screen TVs or cars or any other product that is important to your lives. And you're going to see competition in ways that we haven't seen before.



BROWN: The president chose not to address the decision earlier this month to delay the insurance employer mandate until 2015. Other major parts of the law such as an individual mandate will still take effect as scheduled. But opponents have seized on the delay as a sign of greater problems with the law. Yesterday, the Republican-led House voted to delay the individual mandate that requires most Americans to get coverage next year or pay a penalty. House Speaker John Boehner.

JOHN BOEHNER: Listen, this is about basic fairness. To say that, well, we're gonna – we’re gonna relax this mandate for a year on American business, but we're going to continue to stick it to individuals and families is strictly, and simply, unfair to the American people.

BROWN: The House vote marked at least the 38th time that Republicans have tried to eliminate or scale back the Affordable Care Act. Republican Representative Luke Messer of Indiana.

LUKE MESSER: Obamacare is not working. The America people know that. Now it seems that President Obama knows that, too. The president’s unilateral decision to violate the law and delay the employer mandate, postpone some of the law’s worst damages for businesses. Fundamental fairness dictates that individuals get the same reprieve.

BROWN: Yesterday's vote came on the same day New York State announced its insurance premiums on the individual market are expected to drop 50 percent. Today the Obama administration put out its own report on the expected cost of premiums once the new exchanges take effect. It concluded that ten states, plus the District of Columbia, would be able to offer monthly premiums that will be 18 percent lower than initially projected by the Congressional Budget Office. Those estimates were for a lower-cost plan that would run about $320 a month for an individual. But other states have come up with very different and higher numbers. Last week Ohio issued its own estimate. It reported the average individual health insurance plan would jump 88 percent next year.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.