Nets Spend 100 Times More Coverage on Plugging Obama Joke Interview Than Low Enrollment!

This week, anchors and reporters practically fell over themselves laughing at Barack Obama’s Funny or Die collaboration with comedian Zach Galifianikis as they hailed the ObamaCare promotional video was “great” and urged viewers “you gotta check it out!”

The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks devoted a total of 16 and a half minutes to the fake interview, but the reason Obama had to do the video? The horrible ObamaCare enrollment numbers, particularly among millenials? That got just a measly 10 seconds on the Big Three evening and morning shows.

On March 11 the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that about 940,000 people  signed up for ObamaCare in February, which brought the total enrollment figure to 4.2 million which was far short of the seven million goal, set by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, by the end March. That bit of bad news was briefly touched on by only CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley in his introduction to a March 11 segment on Obama’s Funny or Die video: “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.”

CBS’s Pelly hailed that the video had “worked” as it “became the number one reason people visited today.” Pelley’s colleagues, on the March 11 CBS This Morning, dutifully hailed the video as a success. After co-host Norah O’Donnell observed that “It was interesting to hear some of the President's top advisers saying they’d chosen to do this because they’re sign up younger people for health care coverage, ” fellow co-host Gayle King pronounced: “Alright, mission accomplished.” After a Bill Plante segment about the video, on the March 12 CBS This Morning, King effused: “Bravo to Zach and bravo to the President.” Later in the show King even personally congratulated senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett: “Valerie, let’s go to Funny or Die. It’s certainly gone viral, which I think you guys are doing the hula over there.”

CBS led all networks in amount of time devoted to the video at 8 minutes, 36 seconds.


NBC came in second, devoting a total of 4 minutes, 28 seconds to Obama’s mock-interview  with the Hangover star.  On the March 11 Today show Al Roker praised the President’s “comedy chops.” Social media host Carson Daly gushed: “It’s over six minutes long...all of it is really funny.” Later that night, on the March 11 NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams did his part to drive his viewers to the video as he reported: “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,” Not a single NBC anchor or reporter mentioned the bad enrollment numbers.

ABC came in a close third, spending a total of 3 minutes and 26 seconds on what ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer called a “bold move” by the White House. On the March 11 World News Sawyer announced: “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.” Earlier that morning ABC’s Laura Spencer, on the March 11 Good Morning America, also did the White House’s bidding as she pushed her viewers to go watch the video: “It’s great, you got to check it out. It’s – the President also takes time to reach out to young viewers, though, encouraging them to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act.”

No one at ABC mentioned the bad February enrollment figures for ObamaCare.

— Geoffrey Dickens is Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.