The Lies of Obamacare (And Its Critics)

Nov 24, 2014

Jonathan Gruber, one of the principal architects of Romneycare in Massachusetts and later Obamacare, has been under fire for recently-released tapes from an economics conference last year that show him saying that the lack of transparency in the passage of the Affordable Care Act was intentional and relied upon the stupidity of the American voter.

His comments, posted on YouTube Nov. 7, were soon picked up by conservative media. Fox News has run multiple segments on the video as well as other videos of Mr. Gruber making controversial statements. Online websites like National Review, The Daily Caller and RedState have also weighed in.

Now Paul Ingraham of New Mexico wants to know why this story isn't being reported by the mainstream media, particularly public broadcasting:

Due to the revelations that the Obama administration had a goal to deceive the American public in the run-up to the approval of Obamacare by the Obama Administration, it is time for you to do an expose of the whole process. I have seen NOTHING in mainstream media about Jonathan Gruber's arrogant statements that it was necessary to lie to the public to get Obamacare passed because we were all "too stupid" to know what it was about.

This type of arrogance needs to be exposed and your public broadcasting stations are the perfect place to report on this.

The "elites" in the left are clearly too stupid to realize that the public knew that it was a disaster in the making and the Republican party was correct in not having anything to do with it.

The mid-terms are just the beginning of the public's disgust with Washington politics. You need to report on this!

The role of the CPB ombudsman is to investigate any and all complaints related to the content of public media programming. In this case, Mr. Ingraham wants me to look into the lack of content—the failure of CPB supported television and radio stations to report and discuss what he believes to be a very important news story.

Mr. Ingraham is correct to point out that the disclosure of Mr. Gruber's recorded comments is an important story that the American public deserves to know about. And if his assertion is true that mainstream media failed to report this story then it would be a flagrant dereliction of their journalistic responsibilities.

But Mr. Gruber's complaint is not accurate. Mr. Gruber wrote me at 9 p.m. on Nov. 12.

At 1:45 p.m. on Nov. 12, NPR wrote on the two-way, its breaking news blog that Mr. Gruber had apologized for his statement. The lead of the story said:

One of the main architects of the Affordable Care Act is being criticized for comments made last year in which he said the "stupidity of the American voter" was critical in getting the law to pass.

The NPR piece also linked to a Nov. 11 article in the Washington Post—the epitome of the mainstream media—that was headlined, Obamacare consultant under fire for 'stupidity of the American voter' comment. NPR's piece was picked up by a number of public radio stations across the country including Spokane Public Radio and Iowa Public Radio.

And NPR was not the only public broadcaster to report on Mr. Gruber and his videotaped comments.

Boston Public Radio's WGBH has done multiple stories on the controversy on both Nov. 11 and 12 including a more than five-minute Emily Rooney interview with Mr. Gruber, an MIT economist, on WGBH television where he appeared on her show and apologized "for the terms I used."

However, Mr. Ingraham's complaint is well taken when one examines PBS' coverage of the controversy. The network's primary news outlet, NewsHour, did not report on it until Nov. 17. "On the other hand, when they did get to it, I thought they did a good job," writes PBS ombudsman Michael Getler.

So my message to Mr. Ingraham and others who complain that public broadcasting is not covering a certain story or that they "have seen NOTHING" about a particular story: first, actually listen to and read the media you are complaining about; and second, try Googling the topic of the story: you just might find something rather than nothing.