Media Gloom: Government Lawyer for Obamacare Is Like a 'Fifth Grader' for 'Plane Wreck' Law

After another bad day at the Supreme Court for the Obama administration's health care law, journalists on MSNBC and CNN marveled at how the President's signature legislation seemed to be unraveling. Appearing on MSNBC, HD Net reporter Brooks Silva-Braga compared the Solicitor General (who defended the law in front of the court) to an embarrassed child.

Silva-Braga mocked, "If you've ever been to a fifth grade play and looked into the eyes of a kid who is not sure if he's going to remember his lines, that's what Donald Verrilli looked like yesterday." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] On CNN, Jeffrey Toobin, who on Tuesday reversed a previous prediction of an easy win for Obama, sneered that Obamacare had become a "plane wreck." 

A gloomy Toobin predicted, "This still looks like a train wreck for the Obama administration and it may also be a plane wreck. This entire law is now in serious trouble."

He continued, "...It seemed almost a foregone conclusion today that they were going to strike down the individual mandate, and the only question is does the whole law go out the window with it?"

Fredricka Whitfield, the Newsroom anchor, appeared shocked: "Oh, my goodness!"

Back on MSNBC, journalist Mark Halperin dismissed the Obama administration's happy talk: "What else can they say? They can't say, you know, we think we might lose. Everybody agrees that the solicitor general didn't do a great job."

If three days in March is any prediction, the ruling in June might cause an apocalyptic media outburst.

A transcript of the two exchanges can be found below:


Now With Alex Wagner
03/28/12
12:03

ALEX WAGNER: I want to open this up to the panel a little bit. Brook, you were in the room, the chamber, as it were. Let's talk about the dynamics yesterday. I think what, what Pete was saying about the salvage operation is telling. Because, as we've heard it thus far, the White House does not want the individual mandate to get untied from the broader Affordable Care Act. They know there's a lot of support for other pieces of the Affordable Care Act and separating the two would sort of undermine the entire plan.

BROOKS SILVA-BRAGA (HD NET): And it's probably not practical. But to what it was like in the courtroom yesterday, I know there's been some debate of just how bad a day it was for the Obama administration. If you've ever been to a fifth grade play and looked into the eyes of a kid who is not sure if he's going to remember his lines, that's what Donald Verrilli looked like yesterday.

WAGNER: Wow. I think that Mother Jones had something in there saying it was like one of the most spectacular flameouts in courtroom history which is not exactly what you want to hear from the guy arguing your case. Mark, you know, what Pete is saying about the assumption that the individual mandate may be, in fact, found unconstitutional is not good news for the White House. I mean, to put it mildly. And yet, we've seen out of the White House kind of a confidence that this thing is going to get held up.

MARK HALPERIN: What else can they say? They can't say, you know, we think we might lose. Everybody agrees that the solicitor general didn't do a great job.

CNN Newsroom           
03/28/12
12:00

JEFFREY TOOBIN: This still looks like a train wreck for the Obama administration and it may also be a plane wreck. This entire law is now in serious trouble. It also seems that the individual mandate is doomed. I mean, Anthony Kennedy spent much of this morning talking about "if we strike down the individual mandate, how should we handle the rest of the law?" Now, it is less clear that they are going to strike down the whole law. There does seem to be some controversy in the court about that. Certainly there are some members of the court, Antonin Scalia, Justice Alito, who want to strike down the entire law, but it seemed almost a foregone conclusion today that they were going to strike down the individual mandate, and the only question is does the whole law go out the window with it?

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness! 

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org