MSNBC’s Ball and Bacon Suggest Political Sensitivity is Real Problem With ObamaCare Rollout

A recent Washington Post report handed MSNBC an opportunity to blame their rivals for the disastrous rollout of ObamaCare, and the Lean Forward network appears to be taking advantage.

On Monday’s The Cycle, MSNBC contributor Perry Bacon was on to discuss Saturday’s report that fear of Republican criticism caused the Obama administration to work slowly and secretively on the development of Healthcare.gov. Bacon summed up the White House’s political concerns like this:


"The politics here is sort of a fear of – almost a fear of what would be said on Fox News, I think really drove a lot of this. They seemed to be very nervous about starting really setup until after [the 2012 election]."
 

Going off of that, co-host Krystal Ball inquired whether the real problem with the Obama administration is sensitivity to criticism:
 

"[D]o you see that as sort of a one-off problem, like something that was just a problem with this implementation, or is that a broader statement about problems in this White House being overly concerned with what's being said on Fox News, as you put it, rather than the reality of their policies?"
 

Ball’s suggestion seems to be that there is nothing actually wrong with ObamaCare. If the White House would only block out all the criticism, including that which comes from MSNBC’s rival network, then people would see the “reality of their policies” and everything would run smoothly.

Below is a transcript of the segment:

KRYSTAL BALL: Well, on ObamaCare we had some new reporting over the weekend about where the problems in the rollout may have come from. There was a memo sent out arguing for a different person to head up implementation. There was some allegations that people were too afraid of upsetting the president to bring him the reality of the situation, sort of bureaucratic problems about being able to consolidate everything under one roof. Where are we at this point in terms of understanding what actually happened to have led to this rollout going so poorly thus far?

PERRY BACON JR: I think we know that the government is not particularly well at running websites. I think we know, one. And we’ve also learned -- the second thing that’s most important we learned here is it sounds like the politics and the sort of administration were not along the same line. It sounds like by some point in September, people knew the website was probably not going to work very well. But they had set up this deadline on October 1 and they really couldn't move it or shift it. So I think you have a reality where it also appears that they started really building up the website only after the 2012 election, in part because they were wary of Republicans attacking any part of it. The politics here is sort of a fear of – almost a fear of what would be said on Fox News, I think really drove a lot of this. They seemed to be very nervous about starting really setup until after 2012. And then you have this very short time period, less than a year to basically set up a website for the entire country to look at. I mean, they seem to have like waited too late to solve these basic problems.

BALL: Well, and do you see that as sort of a one-off problem, like something that was just a problem with this implementation, or is that a broader statement about problems in this White House being overly concerned with what's being said on Fox News as you put it, rather than the reality of their policies?



BACON: I do think that often is a problem. One example I would give you is, I think you will not hear the president talk about the fact that there are lots of Americans actually signing up for health insurance. Most of them are signing up for Medicaid. And there's a certain wariness in this administration of talking about plans that benefit poor people, whether it’s food stamps or Medicaid. They want to talk about people who get, who are 26 and get health insurance plans. That’s a benefit of the health care law, too. But right now the majority of people getting health insurance under the law are the kind of low-income people who probably maybe get food stamps too and are not necessarily going to be the best people to talk about it at an event, the kinds of people Republicans criticize for being too reliant on the government, and I think you do see that kind of wariness often here. And that's one thing I would point out.

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