Obamacare enrollments, according to a Fox News graphic, stood about 67 percent short of their goal just for days before the March 31 deadline. The bar graphic ran on the network’s America’s Newsroom broadcast Monday.
There was one problem, however. The 6 million enrollment figure given for March 27 is actually — as anyone who owns a pocket calculator could quickly determine — only about 15 percent shy of the 7 million projection for Obamacare. Here is what the graphic looked like:
The misleading Obamacare graphic, screen-grabbed by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters, had its numerals right but its proportions way off, setting off an avalanche of criticism both online and from rival cable news network MSNBC, which posted its own “factoring in reality” graphic.”
“Fox News showed this dramatically skewed chart to suggest that the law would come up far short of its initial estimate of 7 million enrollees,” said MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton. “Since when is 6 million less than half of 7 million? Anyone?”
Another MSNBC commentator weighing in on the odd Obamacare graph, Steve Kornacki, added, “Fox News resorted to making graphics that try to portray 6 million enrollees as actually only about a third of the enrollment goal of 7 million. Check that out.”
But this was not simply a case of sniping between cable news outlets competing for ratings by taking differing political slants. Even Fox News was forced to acknowledge that it was dealing from the bottom of the deck on this one. Or at least that it had made “a mistake.”
On Tuesday, Fox News ran a “corrected version of the graphic, with anchor Bill Hemmer offering an explanation.
“Yesterday about this time you might have seen a graphic on the Obamacare sign-up numbers. Here is what it should have looked like,” Hemmer told the Fox News audience. “On the left it shows the 6 million sign-ups reported from the administration as of March 27 compared to the target number of 7 million plus. That was our mistake, correction noted.”
As one Washington Post writer explained, “The chart appeared to channel the network’s most deeply held wishes — namely, that President Obama’s key domestic program had a LONG way to go before reaching its enrollment goals.”
The Post gave Hemmer credit for his “thorough on-air accountability,” even though Fox News never mentioned that the 7 million Obamacare enrollment projection had since been revised down to 6 million by the Congressional Budget Office.
However, after a last-minute surge in enrollments, including long lines at many in-person enrollment centers across the country, new projections say that Obamacare enrollments will meet the original 7 million number.
The skewed Obamacare graphic was also not the first time Fox News made such a “mistake” with its graphics. For example, in 2012 during the debate over extension of the Bush tax cuts, Fox News host Neil Cavuto displayed a graphic that made the current 35 percent top marginal tax rate appear to be only a tiny fraction of the “new” 39.6 percent top rate — even though the actual difference is only a small 4.46 percentage points.
Fox News in the end, aired its own, more accurate Obamacare enrollment graphic.
Top Image: Daily Kos
Screen Grabs: Media Matters