Barack Obama's health care law ran into a legal buzz saw at the Supreme Court, Tuesday. So, how did the network morning shows on Wednesday cover the "historic" case? They mostly ignored it. Over two hours, ABC's Good Morning America allowed just two minutes.
Reporter Jon Karl hyped an Obamacare loss as win-win for the President. He insisted it would be a "rallying cry for liberals" and that "it would also take away an issue for Republicans." There's no down side to having one's biggest legislative accomplishment eviscerated? [MP3 audio here. See video below.]
Co-host George Stephanopoulos admitted that the President's "signature" legislative achievement received a "rough reception." He tried to salvage things, spinning, "...Even if this went down...it would doom the President's law but we don't know what impact it would have on the campaign."
On NBC's Today, Matt Lauer squeezed the Obamacare case into a larger interview with House Speaker John Boehner. Instead of focusing on the harsh treatment the law received from Supreme Court judges, Lauer superficially zeroed in on the name and needled Boehner: "You call it ObamaCare every time I hear you talk. Why don't you call it what you called it when you debated it, the Affordable Care Act?"
On CBS This Morning, co-host Charlie Rose also deemed the case "historic."
But, similar to ABC, the program only offered two minutes and 45 seconds. Unlike the other networks, however, reporter Jan Crawford acknowledged the generally poor reception the Obama legal team recieved.
Crawford explained, "[The Supreme Court judges'] tough questions for leading proponents of the law raising concern that the government didn't make its case, putting the law in jeopardy."
She added, "Some are going so far as to point the finger at Solicitor General of the United States, Donald Verrilli, who represented the government before the court."
Crawford then remarked, "The problem in the Supreme Court yesterday for the government wasn't its lawyer, it was the case."
Today, unlike GMA and CBS this Morning, actually had follow-up stories, although they were only quick news briefs. Natalie Morales allowed, "Tuesday's historic session indicates that the high court may drop a provision from the law that would require every American to purchase insurance or face a fine."
A transcript of the March 28 GMA segment, which aired at 7:15 segment, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And in this morning's your voice, your vote, mixed news for President Obama. Our new poll shows voters feeling much better about him than Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, but his signature health care law got a rough reception in those historic arguments before the Supreme Court. ABC's Jon Karl is covering this all from the capitol. And, Jon, let's begin with that health care argument. You had more than half the court asking very tough questions about this core requirement that everyone has to buy health insurance. Listen to Justice Scalia. He had a down-to-earth example. He said if the government can force you to buy health insurance, they can force you to buy food.
ANTONIN SCALIA: Everybody has to buy food sooner or later. So, you define the market as food. Therefore, everybody is in the market. Therefore you can make people buy broccoli.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you can really hear in the questions, Jon, a partisan split between the liberals and the conservatives.
KARL: Yeah. And that was typical, that exchange there. You know, all five of the conservative justices, and they do have the balance of power, had withering questions for the nation's lawyer, expressing real skepticism about whether or not the government has the power to require people to buy health insurance, the centerpiece of the law. They expressed doubts about that. We don't know how they're going to rule, George. They will deliberate until June on this. But, this was an ominous start to this case.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're right. The decision will come right in the middle of the presidential campaign. But it's kind of hard to read, even if this went down, what that would mean for the campaign. It would doom the President's law but we don't know what impact it might have on the campaign.
KARL: We sure know that it would be a rallying cry for liberals if this court, especially the five- if it was a 5-4 decision, were to strike down that law. But, it's unclear. It would also take away an issue for Republicans.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Quickly, Jon, we have this new poll out this morning showing the President opening up a gap on Mitt Romney.
KARL: Yeah. This is something else. Look at this. 53 view Obama favorably. Just 34 for Romney. And look at this, the unfavorable numbers, 50 percent of Americans now have an unfavorable view of Mitt Romney. That's sky high. The highest we've seen for a leading presidential candidate during the primaries in almost 30 years, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And he was trying to help that out by going on Leno last night. Okay, Jon Karl.