All three morning shows on Tuesday hyped an "eye-popping" surge on the final day of ObamaCare sign-ups, but NBC's Today minimized the latest problems for those attempting to meet the deadline. Despite two segments on the topics, the four-hour program covered this angle for a scant 22 seconds.
In contrast, Jon Karl on ABC's Good Morning America threw cold water on the celebration. Ignoring co-host George Stephanopoulos's claim that "all signs point to an eye-popping surge in sign-ups for health insurance," Karl warned of "big, unanswered questions." He explained, "One of the biggest is how many of those have signed up were previously uninsured? Remember, this was about expanding insurance coverage." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] He added that "we don't know how many people signed up here...simply had their previous plans cancelled."
According to Karl, "Those are all critical questions that will determine whether or not this law is a success."
On Today, Peter Alexander spun Monday's deadline as a success:
PETER ALEXANDER: This morning, as first reported by the Associated Press, the administration is on track to sign up seven million people for private health insurance through last night's midnight deadline. As you noted, that's largely due to the late surge. Officials this morning tell me 4.8 million people went to the website yesterday. That is four times more than the previous record in any one day.
Alexander only briefly noted that "there were more tech issues yesterday." It wasn't until two hours and 16 minutes later, in the 9am hour, that Tamron Hall admitted, "For some, the last-minute rush meant long waits, jammed phone lines and some glitches on the government website, HealthCare.gov."
Over on CBS This Morning, Jan Crawford highlighted problems, noting:
JAN CRAWFORD: Hundreds of thousands of Americans were on that same mission, driving the beleaguered website to capacity and jamming phone lines. Throughout the day, people trying to enroll online instead were sent to a virtual waiting room where they could leave an e-mail address to be contacted later.
But she didn't explain, as Karl did, that many of those who signed up could be people who had their plans cancelled under ObamaCare.
In a follow-up segment, co-host Charlie Rose let former White House chief-of-staff Bill Daley off the hook regarding the "badly conceived" ObamaCare site.
A transcript of the April 1st GMA segment is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to stay in Washington now. Some frantic, final hours before the ObamaCare deadline. The lines were long. The website overloaded again, but all signs point to an eye-popping surge in sign-ups for health insurance. ABC's Jon Karl has the latest from the White House. Good morning, Jon.
JON KARL: Good morning, George. Yes, the final hours brought long lines all across the country of people waiting to sign up in person and record traffic on the HealthCare.gov website. Now, White House officials tell me that despite last-minute glitches they expect the final sign-up figures will be over seven million when all the numbers are added up. More than seven million. George, that is an incredibly high number considering the disastrous launch of Obamacare in the fall and you can expect the White House will declare a big victory today here today.
STEPHANOPOULOS: No question about that. But there's a lot that number doesn't tell us.
KARL: That's right. Big unanswered questions that get to the heart of whether or not this law is going to work. One of the biggest is how many of those have signed up were previously uninsured? Remember, this was about expanding insurance coverage. We don't know how many people signed up here were simply – had their previous plans cancelled. Also, we don't know how many have actually paid their premiums and we don't know the percentage of young people. Those are all critical questions that will determine whether or not this law is a success.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Jon, remind people of the penalty for those who don't get insurance.
KARL: Ninety five dollars per person or one percent of your salary.