Andrea Mitchell needs to turn in her journalism card...now!
She completely blew the opportunity to ask outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a question that would have shed light on whether she voluntarily resigned or, as many have speculated, she was fired by the White House. Despite interviewing Sebelius for over five minutes on Meet The Press (video after the jump), Mitchell absurdly neglected to point out a big discrepancy in Sebelius' accounts of her departure.
Mitchell comes tantalizingly close before missing the mark with this question: "People are asking, were you pushed or did you jump?"
Sebelius: "Well, actually I made a decision at the election that I couldn’t leave, along with a lot of my colleagues who left at the end of the first term. That did not seem to be even a topic to even consider since there was still one more chapter in the Affordable Care Act that needed to roll out…So staying on made good sense to me. I also thought at the end of open enrollment was a logical time to leave.... I went back to him [Obama] in early March and said, I’m really optimistic we’re going to meet the targets. The enrollment is going well, the site is working well. I think once we finish this first chapter, you really should begin to look for the next secretary, who can be here through the end of your term. That really wasn’t a commitment I was willing to make, and he knew that.”
Got that? Sebelius was claiming that early in March she told Obama that she wanted to leave after the enrollment period concluded at the end of that month. However that claim is completely contradicted by what she told the Huffington Post on March 31. The article is titled, "The Week Before Resigning, Kathleen Sebelius Said She Was 'Absolutely' Sticking Around." Here is the quote from the story that completely contradicts what Sebelius told Andrea Mitchell:
On March 31, Sebelius joined HuffPost Live's Alyona Minkovski to discuss the Affordable Care Act sign-up deadline. When asked if she would still be part of the Obamacare effort in November, Sebelius said she "absolutely" would.
When prompted a second time to confirm her intention to remain with the administration, Sebelius declared, "I'm in."
Some have claimed that Sebelius was lying to the Huffington Post reporter since she supposedly knew she was on the way out. Your humble correspondent thinks she was being truthful at the time because in the video of the HuffPo interview, Sebelius in contrast to her usual glum tone and demeanor, sounded positively upbeat.
So why didn't Andrea Mitchell ask her about this discrepancy? If Mitchell did not know about the HuffPo interview then she has proven herself to be an incredibly lousy researcher. And if she did know about the interview, she has also disqualified herself as a reporter because she didn't ask about it.
Oh, and an oatmeal cookie to the intrepid reporter who, unlike Andrea Mitchell, asks Sebelius to explain the wild discrepancy in her statements.