NBC Nightly News led with breaking news last night about Obamacare that immediately drew the ire of deputy press secretary Josh Earnest on Twitter.
“The White House intends to delay the deadline requiring every American to have health insurance,” Brian Williams said in the show open. Reporter Tom Costello added, “The White House tells NBC News it plans to move the deadline for individuals to be required to buy health insurance by as much as six weeks … with this change the administration is trying to allow people to start the enrollment process by March 31 to avoid financial penalty.” With that, Earnest fired off this tweet.
NBC is wrong again. Individual mandate timing hasnt changed. Deadline for having insurance is March 31. Was true this am. Is true tonight.
— Josh Earnest (@jearnest44) October 23, 2013
In later feeds, Costello added the word “penalty” before “deadline” (bolded above). And the phrase in bold above was replaced with “…to buy insurance all the way up to March 31 to avoid that penalty.”
It’s a subtle, but important clarification. As the Washington Post points out, this is neither a delay of the individual mandate nor an extension of the enrollment period. But as the media covers the mess that is the sign-up process, they will be looking for any move from the White House seeming to delay implementation.