How can you be certain the discovery of Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber’s repeated praise for the deception which resulted in the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and his acknowledgement of the “stupidity” of the American people to whom he and his Democratic allies successfully lied, is a major development? The media’s response to this revelation.
The videos, none of which were uncovered by any major news organization but by a previously anonymous investment advisor who found them hiding in plain sight on YouTube, feature Gruber denigrating the public his law purports to help. Yet, this has hardly merited a mention on the major networks. No nightly newscast has played the footage, and CBS News This Morning was the first network newscast to feature Gruber’s comments at all – and only just today.
Those in the center-left press who have deigned to debase themselves by addressing a story of interest to conservatives insist that there is nothing much to see here. Not only was Gruber’s admission that the ACA was designed to hide its true costs and impact on the American economy already widely known, they say, but that the American public is generally to blame for Gruber’s mendacity.
Calling his comments “the impolitic but ultimately unnewsworthy confessions of a single technocrat,” The New Republic’s Brian Beutler determined that the “finessing” of legislation is a common practice. “It’s true that the bill’s authors took steps to maximize its public appeal and minimize its vulnerabilities,” he noted. “Everyone writing significant legislation does this.”
Neil Irwin, writing in The New York Times, concurred that Gruber was essentially lamenting the existence of a system which lead politicians to craft laws that defraud scoring and oversight mechanisms and then brag getting one over on the public. “Mr. Gruber was, in an infelicitous way, expressing frustration with that state of affairs,” Irwin charitably explained.
“Jonathan Gruber was right,” The New York Times writer and MSNBC contributor Josh Barro insisted. “Public opinion on health care policy is just completely incoherent.” He later insisted that the public’s confusion “puts politicians in a position where the only thing they can do to make the public happy is lie and so, people lied.”
They hate it when they have to hurt you, so don’t make them do it.
Barro made these comments on the left-leaning network where Gruber flew to deliver a delayed apology only when it became clear the controversy was not simply going to go away. He made a smart decision in choosing MSNBC’s youngest host, Ronan Farrow, to serve as his interlocutor. After allowing Gruber to deliver an interruption-free soliloquy, Farrow resolved that Gruber’s comments, which displayed all the subtlety and refinement of a jackhammer, were really quite “nuanced.”
But the mainstream press would appreciate some credit for even covering this story in the first place. When Fox’s Howard Kurtz observed what he considered an inexplicable “media blackout” of the story, The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker indignantly countered by noting that his paper ran a front page, above the fold feature on this kerfuffle just today.
Excellent! Perhaps The Post shed some light on the fabrications which helped sell this law to the American people, or maybe it focused on this ACA architect’s contempt for the public – the fatal liberal conceit. The headline told the tale: “GOP’s anti-Obamacare push gains new momentum in wake of Gruber video.”
A week after Gruber’s controversial remarks were uncovered by a tenacious citizen journalist, The Post’s first foray into this fracas is to examine the threat it poses to the Affordable Care Act.
The story noted that the Beltway had determined the Republican Party abandoned anti-Obamacare messaging in the closing hours of the midterms, despite a Cook Political Report analysis which noted that “the anti-Obamacare message was the fourth most-mentioned issue or issue position in ad occurrences” in the closing weeks of the campaign season. The Post noted that Gruber’s remarks could rekindle a desire among Republicans to repeal the law, a desire which disappeared only in the minds of political reporters.
The political class is taking these revelations seriously; the White House has distanced itself from Gruber by saying he never played a key role in drafting legislation, while House and Senate Republicans are promising to review his remarks and perhaps even compel Gruber to testify under oath. Despite the fervor with which the media insists that they are not, the Gruber videos are a considerable matter.
Gruber’s controversial comments have reminded the public why they view the Affordable Care Act with as much suspicion as they do. This is a consequential development occurring at an auspicious moment for the law’s opponents, no matter how much the press seeks to deny it.