MSNBC's Karen Finney Dismisses Fears About Documented ObamaCare Security Holes

Healthcare.gov may be riddled with security flaws, but MSNBC’s Karen Finney doesn’t want to let that tarnish the liberal dream that is ObamaCare.

On Sunday’s Disrupt with Karen Finney, the host mocked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s recently revealed memo detailing the House GOP’s goals for the beginning of this year. Noting that ObamaCare website security was Cantor’s top priority, the former DNC communications chief sneered:

"[H]e basically suggests that they're going to hold a vote and look at the security of the website, which by my recollection, every report that I have seen suggests that the security is actually one of the parts from the beginning that was working quite well."
 

Working quite well from the beginning? What universe is she living in? There have been multiple reports suggesting that security has been a problem from the beginning.

On December 20, CBS News reported that there had been two serious high-risk security findings since the website’s launch. This was according to Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Although the administration insisted both of those problems had been resolved, Fryer also told congressional investigators that there had been several “moderate” and “low” security risk findings.

In addition, Fryer testified that she had warned the Department of Health and Human Services to delay the website’s launch because of security concerns, but was overruled by her superiors.

So it’s clear that the ObamaCare website has had, and may still have, security problems. But to a partisan Democrat like Finney, these concerns merely amount to Republican scare tactics. The former DNC press flack stripped down Cantor’s memo and offered her interpretation of the congressman’s words:
 

In one part he says, "Several of our colleagues have introduced legislation to require prompt notification in the event of a breach involving personal information." I would decode that to say, quote, "we're trying to scare people away in order to sabotage the program." That's what that seems to mean to me.
 

Back in November, well over a month after the launch of healthcare.gov, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing on the security of the website. All four IT experts who testified advised Americans against using the site in light of its security flaws. In early December, one of the experts, David Kennedy, told The Washington Free Beacon that the site was even more vulnerable to security threats after the administration supposedly “fixed” it by its self-imposed November 30 deadline.

This is not fearmongering, as Finney would like her viewers to believe. This is a crucial aspect of the law that needs to be ironed out before innocent Americans find themselves the victims of ObamaCare's inadequate security.

Below is a transcript of the segment:


KAREN FINNEY: I want to move on, because we also saw Friday House member Eric Cantor put out a memo that we found very interesting, kind of laying out some of their goals for the beginning of the year. And not surprisingly, item number one, not unemployment insurance, but Obamacare, and essentially undermining Obamacare. And he basically suggests that they're going to hold a vote and look at the security of the website, which by my recollection, every report that I have seen suggests that the security is actually one of the parts from the beginning that was working quite well. Isn't this a risk to start right out of the block with Obamacare again?  

VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, University of Texas, Austin: Yeah, it's their New Year's resolution, Karen. But it's not a New Year's resolution that they're actually going to be very successful at. I think they're trying to ride the wave here of public discontent with the NSA and with preoccupations with spying. But it's a whole different ball game. You're comparing apples to oranges here. What people want to do is they want to see Obamacare working. People want to get their insurance. They want to go on with the year. So I think focusing on this, trying to distract from what Obamacare is supposed to do, get people covered, is not going to help them, and might even hurt them. And in terms of unemployment insurance, they have another element that’s going to only hurt them. I mean, going into the 2014 election, even though John just said that it doesn't necessarily work against Republicans. But we see a larger narrative about income inequality that Democrats are putting forward to Republicans. And they are not going to just let Republicans who are in the states with high unemployment rates not be peeled off. They are going to try to go for those votes. So folks that need the ACA and need that unemployment insurance, they're going to be ripe for the picking for Democrats.



FINNEY: Let's hope. All right, I want to read some of the items from the – and have a little fun with this memo, because having worked in Washington and written talking points myself, some of this language was very interesting. In one part he says, “Several of our colleagues have introduced legislation to require prompt notification in the event of a breach involving personal information.” I would decode that to say, quote, ‘we're trying to scare people away in order to sabotage the program.’ That's what that seems to mean to me. One of my other favorites, they talk about robust oversight. Don't you love that? And it says, “This spring, we can expect a robust season of oversight --” Now that says to me, ‘Get ready. We're going to have more meaningful wasteful hearings about nothing.’ And another one that I loved, “--and continued emphasis on spending reforms--” That sounds like more cuts to key safety net programs. And lastly, “--which reflect our priority of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.” John, to me that says, ‘We're going to continue to protect the 1 percent in everything we do.’

JOHN STANTON, Buzzfeed: Well yeah, I don't think you're going to see any kind of a major shift in the Republican Party's platform. And I think – these are the kinds of things that they have had some success politically with. Arguing that they are looking to do necessary oversight, for instance, over the Obama administration has turned out pretty well, particularly for House members in their districts. And you know, again, I think they look at this idea of prompt notification. That plays to people's fears. Not just about the government, but also in general about having their credit card information leaked or stolen like Target.

FINNEY: Right.

STANTON: And you know, people hear that, they suddenly feel nervous. Then you say, well, maybe there is a problem I need to worry about –

FINNEY: But John, that strikes me -- that really is about fearmongering, right? Because the system that the government has is not like Target, right? And I personally broadly think we should have a much bigger conversation about the security of our information, but that’s another conversation. But to take an incident that truly has scared people and to try to grasp that on to Obamacare, I totally get the political calculation. But that feels to me like that is more about scaring people and trying to prevent them from signing up so that we don’t get – you won't see those numbers that the administration is looking for.

STANTON: To a certain extent, that may be the case. Although I do think that they are playing less for worrying about what is going to happen with signups than they are for trying to convince the people that are in the middle, people who maybe have not yet decided where they are politically in the next election, that there are these problems or these potential problems. And those people may look at this because of the problems with the roll-out as a legitimate question to raise, even if they've already been told by the government, well, everything is okay. Those people may say to themselves, well, maybe they’re not -- they don't know if it’s okay.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.