Abramson on today’s Page One: Obama apology was an ‘everyone has it’ story

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It's safe to say that this morning's Affordable Care Act news cycle was dominated by coverage of Barack Obama's on-air apology to the public last night.

The president made his remarks in an interview with Chuck Todd of NBC News that was picked up widely throughout the media and rose to the top of many outlets' Friday morning news reports. It was front page news in papers including The Washington Post, USA Today, the Daily News and Newsday.

And though it did peek its way, without much fanfare, into a refer box on the front of The New York Times, the story was placed way back on page A12.

The Times led its front page with a story about new rules the Obama administration is rolling out today that will "require insurers to cover care for mental health and addiction just like physical illnesses when it issues long-awaited regulations defining parity in benefits and treatment."

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What was the reasoning behind the Times' treatment of Obama's apology?

"The mental health story was ours exclusively and affects millions of people," executive editor Jill Abramson told Capital in a statement given to us through a spokesperson.

"The Obama story was an 'every one has it' story," Abramson said, though she allowed that it is "an important development in the ongoing controversy over the messy rollout of the HCA, which we cover very aggressively.

"The politics story is important, but in this case how a change in policy will affect people seemed more so," she added.

Abramson recently generated a little controversy when she appeared to criticize the political press, telling Ken Auletta in a discussion at The New Yorker Festival last month: "I worry that politics is covered almost like sports at a relentless who's winning and who’s losing kind of way, who’s up, who’s down and the political maneuvering becomes the dominant thread and what is lost is what effect it actually has on people."

But she seemed to acknowledge that the same criticism could, at times, be leveled at her own paper. When Auletta pressed her on that, she pleaded: "Can I go home now? This is starting to feel a little bit like a root canal."

 

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