March 28, 2014

MSNBC host Ed Schultz got himself in a jam with his strutting, powerful, full-throated prediction of Dec. 11, 2013: “I’m going to make a prediction tonight. It’s going to hit 5 million by March 1st. That’s right. Five million people signed up by March 1st. Get your tapes rolling at home, folks, because it’s going to be a big ‘I told you so.’”

That prediction didn’t pan out, as Obamacare hit just 4.2 million sign-ups by March 1. As noted in this space, Schultz this month has tried to dance around his faulty prediction — and even tried to revise it.

The raucous TV and radio personality proved on yesterday’s “Ed Show” that he’d learned his lesson on Obamacare predictions. Keying off the news that Obamacare had reached a highly respectable 6 million sign-ups, Schultz gushed: “Who would have ever thought at this point and time we’d be at 6 million sign-ups? Call this what it is. It is an amazing turnaround, and I will tell you what, President Obama has got major credibility with a lot of Americans. He said it was going to get fixed and it did. ”

Then! Instead of puffing up his chest and issuing another defiant prediction, Schultz said, ” I think it might even hit 7 million?” Note the punctuation — Schultz posed the matter almost as a question. Now his own credibility won’t be on the line.

What makes the 6 million mark so astonishing, argued Schultz, is that it comes in the face of conservative attacks on the Affordable Care Act. Schultz: “When you consider the countless hours on right-wing radio, 600 stations across the country that basically did a jihad on Obamacare, Fox News segment after segment after segment how bad Obamacare is . . . ”

Moments before Schultz celebrated the numbers, Fox News’s Neil Cavuto ripped away, “A lot of folks, be they Americans or anyone, don’t like change. So, much has been disrupted. And the final takeaway on all of this is, when we do have this up and running, whenever that is, 30 million Americans will still be without insurance. So we upended everything to provide coverage for everyone. And it turns out that everyone won’t have it in the end. Wow.”

On Fox News’s “Special Report,” a correspondent contextualized the numbers this way: “A new Fox News poll shows that four years after Obamacare was signed, it remains unpopular with 56 percent of Americans opposed to it, 40 percent favoring it. And while the president announced today that 6 million have now signed up through the federal and state exchanges since October 1, the poll finds a majority, 53 percent, are not confident that enough will sign up to make it successful.”

In prime time, Fox News host Megyn Kelly called the 6 million mark a “so-called milestone.”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.