CNN Walks Back Sunday's Report on Upgraded ObamaCare Website Crashing

December 2nd, 2013 11:44 AM

As NewsBusters reported Sunday, CNN's New Day featured a segment wherein the newly upgraded ObamaCare website crashed when senior medical producer Matt Sloane tried to open up an account.

Maybe that was too honest for on Monday's New Day, senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen painted a much rosier picture of the website's progress (video follows with transcript and commentary):

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The man tasked as the Obamacare website fixer says people should see a night and day difference and that the website should work much more smoothly for the vast majority of users. So, does his assessment hold up? Senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, put his words to the test. She's joining us from the CNN Center in Atlanta.

Elizabeth, we've been basically tracking it from the very beginning trying to get on this website. How's it going now?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Kate. I want to tell you, I was very curious to see how the website was doing now, given my, well, less than fabulous experience with it this fall.


COHEN (voice-over): Error messages, spinning wheels, system down, was riddled with problems from day one. It wouldn't log me in. It took me more than two weeks after the launch just to create a user name and sign in. And the problems didn't end there. To fix the troubled site, the Obama administration enlisted the help of private sector tech talent and the president put management consultant, Jeff Zients, in charge of the overhaul.

Two months and more than 400 individual repairs later, the administration announced it met their self-imposed deadline saying the website's error rate has fallen to well under one percent.

VOICE OF JEFFREY ZIENTS, SPECIAL ADVISOR, HEALTHCARE.GOV: The bottom line, on December 1st is night and day from where it was on October 1st.

COHEN: And what a difference two months have made. The administration's progress report says the site can now handle up to 800,000 visits a day.

MATT SLOANE, SENIOR MEDICAL PRODUCER: And I got through the whole process in about eight minutes.

COHEN: And so was CNN medical producer Matt Sloane. He did get an error message at one point, but he just hit refresh and the problem went away.

Compare that to what was presented on the same program 24 hours earlier:

GEORGE HOWELL, HOST: We know the first thing you have to do when you go to this website you have to select your state. Is that working?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And what's funny is I was talking with Matt, and, yeah, that seemed to work, right, when you logged on. But then came the road blocks. So tell me about what happened, because we're getting another error message here, and it's supposed to be running smoothly. We’re just not seeing that.

MATT SLOANE, CNN MEDICAL PRODUCER: Yeah, so, you know, we've been trying to get into the site since October 1 on and off again. I have to say it did work a lot more smoothly this morning. I got through. I picked my state. I put in all of my information and I got through the whole process in eight minutes. And then it said my status was in progress. So I went to refresh it and I got the error message.

Now Sloane did hit refresh again at Kosik's request, and the website properly loaded. However, we were never informed as to whether all of Sloane's information had been properly uploaded or was lost in the internet ether.

Whatever the answer, the segment ended with Kosik saying, "Bottom line, George: not smooth sailing just yet."

So, was that just too truthful?

What happened overnight for the folks at CNN to feel they needed to walk this back and be far more positive about the upgrade than they were 24 hours earlier?