President Obama Apologizes to America

From the AMA: Amid criticism, Obama apologizes to Americans losing health insurance. President Obama gave an interview to NBC’s Chuck Todd on Thursday in which he effectively apologized for an aspect of the Affordable Care Act which has garnered extensive media coverage of late: that millions of Americans are receiving insurance cancellation notifications despite his repeated assurances that “if you like your policy, you can keep it.” His deference to this criticism dominated headlines, taking up nearly five minutes of nightly news airtime and making the front page of two major national newspapers. Indeed, nearly every report on the President’s interview includes some variation of the words “apology” or “sorry” in their headlines. At the opening of NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams said, “We are all about to hear the President of the United States apologize...for the fact that his promise to the American people that if they like their current health insurance they can keep it has not held true for all.” Chuck Todd went on to report that “the President’s apparent broken promise about folks keeping the plans they like has been weighing heavily on the entire White House, so it was a chastened commander in chief that I spoke with.” President Obama was shown saying, “We’re talking about five percent of the population who are in what’s called the individual market,” and “even though it only affects a small amount of the population, it means a lot to them, obviously, when they get this letter [informing them that their health insurance has been] cancelled – and I am deeply concerned about it and I’ve assigned my team to see what can we do.” Asked, “Do you feel like you owe these folks an apology for misleading them,” President Obama replied, “I regret very much that what we intended to do...that we weren’t as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were taking place. ... And I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me.” Scott Pelley, on the CBS Evening News, said the President “apologized for one of the biggest emerging problems with the Affordable Care Act.” According to Pelley, “More than three million Americans have been told that they will lose their health insurance plans, even though the President has repeated for years that Americans who liked their plans could keep them.” Nearly every report on the President’s interview includes some variation of the words “apology” or “sorry” in their headlines. The New York Times (11/8, Shear, Subscription Publication, 9.61M), in an article titled, “Apologizing, Obama Yields to Criticism of Health Law,” reports that in an interview with Chuck Todd Thursday night, President Obama “bowed...to mounting criticism that he had misled the American people about the health care law, apologizing to people who were forced off their health insurance plans by the Affordable Care Act despite ‘assurances from me.’” The Times says the President’s “decision to apologize...reflects the increasingly dire political position that the president is in.” Under the headline, “President Obama Apologizes To Americans Who Are Losing Their Health Insurance,” theWashington Post (11/8, A1, Eilperin, 4.28M) reports on its front-page that Thursday’s interview represented an “unusual act of contrition for a president who has come under heavy criticism for misleading the public.” According to the Post, “presidents rarely say ‘I’m sorry’ in public, even when acknowledging missteps,” and, on Thursday, President Obama “only did so after Chuck Todd...pressed him on the point.” Under the headline, “Obama Says He’s Sorry Americans Losing Insurance,” the AP (11/8, Pace) reports that while the President “says he’s sorry Americans are losing health insurance plans he repeatedly said they could keep,” he “stopped short of apologizing for making those promises in the first place.” The AP adds that “critics” of the President “have accused him of misleading the public about changes that were coming under the law, which remains unpopular with many Americans.” On its front page, USA Today (11/8, A1, Madhani, 5.82M) says the President was responding to “a steady stream of criticism as millions of Americans on the individual insurance market received notices that their plans do not meet the minimum benefit requirements set under the ACA and will be canceled.” USA Today says the President’s apology “mark[s] a significant change in tone following more than a week of his aides resisting suggestions that the president misled Americans.” USA Today notes that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “dismissed the apology, and called on Obama to embrace a bipartisan legislative effort in the Senate that would allow those getting cancellation notices to retain their coverage.” McConnell is quoted as saying, “If the president is truly sorry for breaking his promises to the American people, he’ll do more than just issue a half-hearted apology on TV.”

Paul Dorio