CBS's Major Garrett Grills President on ObamaCare Debacle: Where's the Accountability?

CBS journalist Major Garrett grilled Barack Obama at a White House news conference, Thursday. On the subject of ObamaCare's disastrous rollout, the reporter repeatedly zeroed in on what the President knew and when: "You said after the law was implemented or signed, if like your plan, you can keep it. Americans believed you, sir, when you said that to them over and over."[See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Garrett pushed, "Do you not believe, sir, the American people deserve a deeper, more transparent accountability from you  as to why you said it over and over and when your own statistics, published in the Federal Register, alerted your policy staff, and I presume you, to the fact that millions of Americans would, in fact, probably fall into the very gap you are trying to administratively fix now?" The journalist wasn't done. He offered up two more hard-hitting queries.

Garrett added, "You were informed or – several people in this building were informed two weeks before the launch of the website that it was failing the most basic tests internally. Yet, a decision was made to launch the website on October 1st. Did you, sir, make that test and if so, did you regret it?"

Obama professed ignorance:

OBAMA: On the website, I was not informed directly that the website would not be working the way it was supposed to. Had I been informed I wouldn't be going out saying "boy, this is going to be great." You know, I'm accused of a lot of things but I don't think that I'm stupid enough to go around saying this is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity a week before the website open it if I thought it wasn't going to work.

Staying focused, Garrett demanded, "Did you decide, sir, that the simple declaration was something the American people could handle but this nuance was something they couldn't handle and didn't trust the American people with the fuller truth?"

A transcript of the questions and some of Obama's answers follow:


11/14/13

12: 20

BARACK OBAMA: Major Garrett.

MAJOR GARRETT: Thank you, Mr. President. You said while the law was being debated, if you like your plan, you can keep it. You said after the law was implemented or signed, if like your plan, you can keep it. Americans believed you, sir, when you said that to them over and over. Do you not believe, sir, the American people deserve a deeper, more transparent accountability from you as to why you said it over and over and when your own statistics, published in the Federal Register, alerted your policy staff, and I presume you, to the fact that millions of Americans would, in fact, probably fall into the very gap you are trying to administratively fix now? That's one question. Second question. [Laughter in room.] You were informed or – several people in this building were informed two weeks before the launch of the website that it was failing the most basic tests internally. And yet, a decision was made to launch the website on October 1. Did you, sir, make that test and if so, did you regret it?

OBAMA: Okay. On the website, I was not informed directly that the website would not be working the way it was supposed to. Had I been informed I wouldn't be going out saying "boy, this is going to be great. You know, I'm accused of a lot of things but I don't think that I'm stupid enough to go around saying this is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity a week before the website open it if I thought it wasn't going to work.

...

GARRETT: Did you decide, sir, that the simple declaration was something the American people could handle but this nuance was something they couldn't handle and didn't trust the American people with the fuller truth?

OBAMA: No. I think, as I said earlier, major, Major, my expectation was that for 98 percent of the American people either it genuinely wouldn't change at all or they would be pleasantly surprised with the options in the marketplace.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org