When Gregory caves, that’s news: Since it was Sunday, it was Meet the Press.
Since Mitt Romney was the guest, he offered a slippery groaner. He seemed to say that he would retain the part of Obamacare which ensures coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
This makes no real sense, of course—and, within a matter of hours, the Romney campaign began walking the statement back. But even before that walk-back occurred, Kevin Drum noted the absurdity of what Romney had said.
Drum was first to the scene of the crime. But just like that, Drum broke our hearts:
DRUM (9/9/12): Under normal circumstances, I'd write a long post about how ridiculous this is. If you guarantee that people with preexisting conditions can get coverage, people will game the system by getting coverage only when they get sick. To avoid that, you have to create a stable risk pool for insurers by mandating that everyone maintain coverage all the time. And if you have a mandate, then you need to subsidize poor people, which in turn means you have to have a funding source for the subsidies. More here.Drum was right about Gregory’s failure to challenge Romney’s statements. But then, Drum said he can’t exactly blame Gregory for that!
Like I said, that's what I'd do under normal circumstances. But host David Gregory didn't bother asking Romney about any of these pesky details, and I guess I can hardly blame him since Romney wouldn't have answered.
The analysts started to cry.
Maybe Drum was just being flip. But challenging Romney on such an obvious point is the most basic part of Gregory’s job.
It’s hardly a shock that Gregory didn’t do this. Gregory, a genial mega-insider, is extremely soft.
But there’s no point airing a program like Meet the Press if Gregory is going to let his guests make such misleading statements. This brings us back to something Bill Turque should have reported in the Washington Post.
On Monday morning, Turque reported Romney’s Meet the Press session. Quite correctly, he flagged the problem with what Romney said:
TURQUE (9/10/12): Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says that while he intends to dismantle the Obama administration's health-care law if elected, he will retain several key provisions, including coverage for preexisting conditions.In our view, Turque didn’t flag this problem sharply enough, or early enough in his report. But over at the New York Times, non-excitable boy Michael Barbaro simply reported what Romney said. In his typically silly report, he didn’t note the obvious problems with Romney’s pledges at all. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/10/12.)
In an interview aired Sunday on NBC's _blank"Meet the Press," Romney said his health-care overhaul will also allow families to cover adult children with their policies through age 26 and include access to coverage for unemployed people seeking insurance. Both are part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law by Obama in 2010.
"I'm not getting rid of all health-care reform," Romney said. "Of course there are a number of things that I like in health-care reform that I'm going to put in place."
Romney's promises are not altogether new. But, delivered in a major network interview at the outset of the fall campaign, they had the ring of an explicit appeal to a general-election audience, especially moderate independent voters leery of wrenching changes in their health care.
The Obama campaign disputed some of Romney's assurances. It said that his plan would cover preexisting conditions only for the continuously insured, excluding those who have never had private coverage or who have lost it because of unemployment. People in such circumstances have been protected under federal law since 1996.
"When Romney was governor of Massachusetts, he really did have a comprehensive plan to make sure people with pre-existing conditions could get coverage, which is why his Massachusetts health reform law formed the basis for Obamacare," Obama campaign spokeswoman Liz Smith said in a statement. "But now, he has pledged to repeal the national law modeled on his successful efforts, and has offered an inadequate plan in its place."
Independent health-care analysts have said that Romney's promise to retain coverage for those with preexisting conditions would be difficult to keep without enforcing the individual mandate, which the GOP opposes.
Turque did much better than Barbaro—but we think he omitted one player. Gregory’s failure to challenge Romney’s statements was also part of the story.
Romney made some improbable statements; Gregory chose not to notice. Gregory’s failure to challenge Romney should have been in Turque’s report.
David Gregory is a multimillionaire major TV news star. It’s his job to challenge such statements.
When journalists refuse to function, that’s news. Gregory’s failure to challenge Romney should have been in Turque’s report.
Assignment: Rewrite Turque's report, remembering to cite Private Gregory