Networks Continue Touting White House's Plug for ObamaCare, Ignore Enrollment Shortfall

On Tuesday evening, the networks continued relaying the White House's plea to young voters to sign up for ObamaCare, touting President Obama's mock interview with comedian Zach Galifianakis where Obama plugged for his own health care law. ABC's Diane Sawyer called it a "bold move" and both CBS and NBC hailed the interview as a success. CBS's Scott Pelley said, "it worked. The video became the number one reason people visited HealthCare.gov today."

The networks ignored, however, the bad news of the day for the law, that enrollment numbers for young people are still far below what is needed.

FNC’s Bret Baier led Tuesday’s Special Report with the poor numbers ABC and NBC skipped: “Late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services released ObamaCare enrollment numbers for February. And they are well behind the pace the administration wanted, particularly with young healthy people needed to balance out the risk pool.”

CBS skirted over those fresh bad numbers, although they did report that the overall numbers are still lagging: "The White House told us today about four-and-a-quarter million Americans have signed up for ObamaCare. The administration had hoped to have more than five-and-a-half million by now."

At least ABC's Jonathan Karl appeared skeptical, asking "will this get young people to sign up? By midday, more than 6 million people had watched the video. And 19,000 of them had gone directly to Healthcare.gov."

And Karl asked: "The strangest presidential interview ever? Probably."

Below are transcripts of the March 11 segments:

ABC's World News:

DIANE SAWYER: And next, a bold move on the battle over ObamaCare. Even if you're President of the United States, when you want the attention of young Americans, you put your dignity on the line and go where they laugh. Tonight, the impudent website Funny or Die has recruited thousands of people to check out ObamaCare, all because the President sat down with the funny guy from The Hangover. Here's ABC's chief White House correspondent, Jonathan Karl.

(Video Clip)
 
ZACH GALIFIANAKIS: And my guest today is Barack Obama. President Barack Obama.

JONATHAN KARL: (voice over) The strangest presidential interview ever? Probably. Just look how it started.

GALIFIANAKIS: First question. In 2013, you pardoned a turkey. What do you have planned for 2014?

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: We'll probably pardon another turkey. We do that every Thanksgiving.

KARL: And then, this.

GALIFIANAKIS: So how does this work? Do you send Ambassador Rodman to North Korea on your behalf? I had read somewhere that you'd be sending Hulk Hogan to Syria. Or is that more of a job for Tanya Harding?

OBAMA: Zach, he's not our ambassador.

KARL: Zach Galifianakis is not your typical presidential interviewer. A comedian, he is most well-known for his role in The Hangover movies. Obama appeared on the internet show for one simple reason. To push young people to enroll in ObamaCare, with just three weeks until the final deadline.

GALIFIANAKIS: Let's get this out of the way. What did you come here to plug?

OBAMA: I think it's fair to say that I wouldn't be with you here today if I didn't have something to plug. Have you heard of the Affordable Care Act?

GALIFIANAKIS: Oh yeah, I heard about that. That's the thing that doesn't work. Why would you get the guy who created the Zune to make your website?

OBAMA: Healthcare.gov works great now. And millions of Americans have already gotten health insurance plans. Most young Americans, right now, they're not covered.

KARL: But will this get young people to sign up? By midday, more than 6 million people had watched the video. And 19,000 of them had gone directly to Healthcare.gov. Jonathan Karl, ABC News, the White House.

CBS Evening News:

SCOTT PELLEY: The White House told us today about four-and-a-quarter million Americanas have signed up for ObamaCare. The administration had hoped to have more than five-and-a-half million by now. How badly does the President want young folks to enroll? Well so badly, apparently, he went on an online comedy show many of them watch, a talk show spoof-hosted by Zach Galifianakis.

ZACH GALIFIANAKIS: You said if you had a son you would not let him play football. What makes you think that he would want to play football? What if he was a nerd, like you?

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: Do you think a woman like Michelle would marry a nerd? Why don't you ask her whether she thinks I'm a nerd?

GALIFIANAKIS: Could I?

OBAMA: No, I'm not going to let her near you.

PELLEY: The subject then turned to ObamaCare.

OBAMA: You can get affordable health care, and most young Americans right now, they're not covered. And the truth is is that they can get coverage all for what it costs you to pay your cell phone bill.

GALIFIANAKIS: Is this what they mean by drones?

PELLEY: When Galifianakis showed the president his pre-existing condition, what he called "spider bites," Mr. Obama suggested he sign up for ObamaCare, and get it checked out.

OBAMA: That's one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen.

GALIFIANAKIS: Is your plug finally over?

PELLEY: It was, and it worked. The video became the number one reason people visited HealthCare.gov today.

NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: The news in the colliding worlds of politics and entertainment today had to do with this, the latest installment of the comedy web video series by Zach Galifianakis called Between Two Ferns with today's guest who happened to be the President of the United States, who used the forum, when it was serious, to push his health care plan. And it seems to have worked. Inquiries to the now-functional website spiked today. Rather than try to explain what's going on here, you can see the entire video on our website tonight, NBCNews.com.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014