NBC, ABC Ignore ObamaCare's Deadline Extension; CBS Waters Down the Controversy

Both ABC and NBC ignored the latest delay for ObamaCare on Wednesday evening's news casts, and CBS whitewashed any controversy until the end of its report.

The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it would extend ObamaCare's enrollment deadline until mid-April for anyone who would have trouble signing up at the last minute. Not only was the administration changing its long-established deadline, but it would only use the "honor system" to verify those who had legitimate problems enrolling. CBS was the only network to report this big delay on Wednesday evening.

And CBS's Wyatt Andrews regurgitated White House talking points that the delay would ease a last-minute rush of applicants for health insurance on the exchanges. No mention was made of the delay possibly occurring because the administration would fail to reach its goal of 7 million enrollees by March 31. The latest estimates had the number at 6 million.

Not until the end of his report did Andrews admit that the administration was using the "honor system" as enforcement: "But how the administration will measure who was in line and who gets this extension is an issue, because essentially the system will take your word for it."

All three networks reported the news on Wednesday morning, but relayed the White House's spin that the law's popularity was behind the deadline extension. They simply reported the delay as a "grace period" and a "reprieve."

Below is a transcript of the segment:

CBS
EVENING NEWS
3/26/14
6:41 p.m. EST

SCOTT PELLEY: Today the Obama administration extended the deadline for signing up for health insurance online. Here's Wyatt Andrews on whether the extension applies to you.

(Video Clip)

WYATT ANDREWS: (voice over) The extension of the ObamaCare deadline applies to people in line on the Healthcare.gov web site, specifically consumers who tried to enroll but did not complete the process by March 31. That is this Monday. Just two weeks ago, Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, had called March 31 a hard deadline.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: But there is no delay beyond March 31st.

ANDREWS: The extension was caused by the last-minute crush of applicants. Healthcare.gov, which crashed at launch last October, had 2.3 million visitors in the last two days. And officials are concerned it could fail again. Alexis Stewart of Maryland told us she wanted insurance, but waited 'til the end to save money.

ALEXIS STEWART: I felt like I had to pay something immediately, so I didn't feel financially stable in order to make that jump.

ANDREWS: (on camera)  So you were delaying what might be your first payment.

STEWART: Correct.

ANDREWS: But how the administration will measure who was in line and who gets this extension is an issue, because essentially the system will take your word for it. Here was the reaction from House Speaker John Boehner:

Rep. JOHN BOEHNER (R-Ohio): Another deadline made meaningless. The administration's now resorting to an honor system to enforce it. What the hell is this, a joke?

ANDREWS: The reaction from the insurance industry was mixed today, Scott. Insurers want a deadline to be set and very soon, but it is also true that these same insurers will probably win more customers who are younger and more profitable.

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