CBS Anchors Can't Bring Themselves to Say Obama Lied on 'You Will Keep It'

Charlie Rose twice couldn't bring himself to clearly state that President Obama made a false promise when he repeatedly claimed that "if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it". On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, Rose underlined that "more than two million Americans are losing their current health care coverage because of ObamaCare. Jan Crawford uncovers new information on what could be a broken promise."

Two days later, the morning show anchor spun that "not all the promises [about ObamaCare] are turning out to be true, and he's [the President] had to modify some of them." Co-host Norah O'Donnell also followed Rose's lead: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]

NORAH O'DONNELL: ...[I]t's more than just the glitches on the website. It's actually the substance of the promises the President made...he said, 'no one will take away your insurance no matter what'. Yesterday, in Boston, he said, 'For the vast majority of people who have health insurance that works, you can keep it.' He made some qualifiers in that new statement, didn't he?

O'Donnell and Rose brought on CBS News political director John Dickerson to discuss the ongoing problems with HealthCare.gov. The PBS host first asked, "How does the President get on top of this?" Dickerson answered, in part, that "he gets on top of it by having a website that actually works....it means they can point to people and say – look, the promises we make about this law are turning out to be true. Here are people signing up; their premiums are lower; they are happy. And he needs those stories to come in."

Rose then used his "modify" term, and continued by asking, "Does that put his credibility at risk?" The political director, who recently pointed out that Obama risks a "credibility death spiral" over the many problems with the Affordable Care Act, replied that "the promises were always at issue with this law for the last four years....now that things are not turning out as the President promised, even people who have their own insurance have worries, and they think that this new law, as it goes into effect, is going to somehow affect them. And that's the real political damage that's possible...when these promises don't turn out to be true."

The transcript of the relevant portion of the John Dickerson segment from Thursday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: In Boston, President Obama offered his regrets yesterday for the problems at HealthCare.gov.

[CBS News Graphic: "President's Apology: Obama Offers Regrets For Website Problems"]

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There's no excuse for it, and I take full responsibility for making sure it gets fixed ASAP.  We are working overtime to improve it every day – every day. (audience applauds)

ROSE: The President also defended his health care law. He believes critics are not telling the whole story.

CBS News political director John Dickerson is in Washington. John, good morning. So, how-

JOHN DICKERSON: Good morning, Charlie-

[CBS News Graphic: "ObamaCare Outlook: Assessing Debate's Effect On Affordable Care Act"]

ROSE: How does the President get on top of this?

DICKERSON: Well, I think he gets on top of it by having a website that actually works. Most – most obviously, that's because he doesn't want the, kind of, biggest public manifestation of his signature law – he wants that not to be, kind of, a glowing mess. But also, he wants it to actually work, so that there can be this flood – that they hope – of good stories of people signing up. That's good on –  for policy reasons, because it means the law will be working. But also, just from a crass public relations standpoint, it means they can point to people and say – look, the promises we make about this law are turning out to be true. Here are people signing up; their premiums are lower; they are happy. And he needs those stories to come in.

ROSE: But – okay. But not all the promises are turning out to be true, and he's had to modify some of them. So, does that put his credibility at risk?


DICKERSON: Right. His credibility is – you know, the promises were always at issue with this law for the last four years. The President made promises, and people didn't trust him. And that's why this question of keeping your doctor is so very important. The White House now says, well, that really only applies to five percent of the population.

But if you go back and think about when this law was being sold, the President said that over and over again. It was the one piece of information people took in, and that's because it was a message to everybody who had health insurance – people who got it through their employer. And the argument was this: I'm unleashing this chaotic new program, but for you who have health insurance, it's okay. Things won't change. That's what that promise was meant to convey. Now, that things are not turning out as the President promised, even people who have their own insurance have – have worries, and they think that this – this new law, as it goes into effect, is going to somehow affect them. And that's the real political damage that's possible when things don't – when these promises don't turn out to be true.

NORAH O'DONNELL: John, as you point out, it's more than just the glitches on the website. It's actually the substance of the promises the President made. As you said – he said, 'no one will take away your insurance no matter what'. Yesterday, in Boston, he said, 'For the vast majority of people who have health insurance that works, you can keep it.' He made some qualifiers in that new statement, didn't he?

DICKERSON: Exactly, and the qualifiers are what's the problem here, is because – because there were a lot of promises. And all throughout this law, the President has said, just trust me, it will get better. And they were really hoping once this website was launched that you'd have data and real people saying – okay, he was right. It does get better. And so, now that that's not happening, that's a problem.

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