The testimony of Jonathan Gruber, professor of economics at MIT and a leading architect of Obamacare, posed a delicate problem for ABC, CBS, and, especially, NBC News.
Prof. Gruber attracted national attention Nov. 7 when a video posted on the Internet of a speech he made at the University of Pennsylvania in October of last year went viral.
Obamacare "was written in a tortured way to make sure (the Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes," he said.
"Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage," Mr.Gruber said. "Call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass."
More videos soon surfaced of the garralous Mr. Gruber saying other indiscreet things.
Obamacare "is a very clever basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter," he said at the University of Rhode Island in November, 2012.
The Obamacare tax on high end health plans passed because "the American people are too stupid to understand the difference," Mr. Gruber said at Washington University in St. Louis in October, 2013.
President Obama was in the room when plans were made to impose the "Cadillac tax," Mr. Gruber said in a 2012 interview with PBS.
When the president told Americans Obamacare "would bend the cost curve down," he knew it wouldn't, Mr. Gruber said in March, 2010 speech at the College of the Holy Cross.
The House Oversight Committee wanted to hear more from Prof. Gruber about how the administration deceived Congress, CBO and the American people to get Obamacare passed. The hearing was great theater.
"Gruber groveled. Gruber regretted. Gruber apologized. Gruber was sorry," said Scott Johnson of the Power Line blog. "He squirmed. He dodged. He apologized," said Politico.
"It is by no means worth the billions poured into ObamaCare, but at least there is some enjoyment to be had in watching Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) demolish Gruber, reducing the Six Million Dollar Man to a pile of quivering jell-o who repeatedly stammered that he didn't mean anything he ever said," said John Hayward of Human Events.
The problem for the broadcast networks was how to explain to their viewers who Gruber is and why he was squirming, dodging and groveling, because before Monday, they'd reported next to nothing about the things he'd said.
The foremost Obamacare architect says the most expensive and controversial government program ever was built deliberately on a foundation of lies. You'd think that would be more newsworthy than reports on ugly sweaters or a dating web site for farmers.
There's so much fluff on the evening newscasts because so much of the real news reflects poorly on the president and his party.
When Mr. Gruber wasn't groveling, he was suffering memory lapses. He couldn't recall who in the administration he spoke with about the need to conceal the Obamacare tax on health insurance, or meeting with the president to devise the "Cadillac tax" on high end health plans. He couldn't remember having told multiple audiences Americans were "too stupid" to understand Obamacare's authors had devised a slick, indirect way to raise taxes.
Prof. Gruber refused to disclose how much he's been paid for his work on Obamacare, or documents which detail the work he did. Back in the days when the news was reported, not spun, this would have been fertile ground for investigative reporting. But for the broadcast networks and many others, it isn't a scandal if Democrats do it. And if Democrats do it, they feel no obligation to tell you about it.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out Obamacare hasn't restrained health care costs, as HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell claims, or that the administration padded enrollment numbers by adding in dental plans. But you must be willing to notice these deceptions.
Despite all the lies and the news blackout on them, Obamacare is more unpopular than ever. If they keep trying to hide the truth about it, soon the news media will be too.