Michelle Malkin's Twitchy.com has capsulized the Obamacare exchanges' opening day as follows (links are in the original): "HealthCare.gov tried to kick off the Obamacare marketplace this morning … and failed miserably. The website is an error-ridden mess and users are being asked for their patience as the marketplace works out “known issues” with security. But never mind the pesky bugs preventing people from signing up — HealthCare.gov is psyched!"
On the pretty safe assumption that the problems continue, three key questions arise. First, how much exposure will the establishment press give the snafus? Second, to the extent they give them attention, how will they present them — i.e., as "normal startup problems" or "poor execution and planning"? And third, how effective, if at all, will center-right truth-tellers be at breaking through to the general population? Hadas Gold and Kyle Cheney at Politico obsessed over these matters Saturday morning, and in essence virtually begged everyone to be patient (bolds are mine):
Can the media avoid rush judgment on Obamacare?
America’s about to take Obamacare for a test drive with an army of hungry reporters in the back seat.
When Obamacare enrollment begins on Tuesday, reporters in the Twitter age will be tempted to declare the health law a success or a failure in the first few days — a judgment that will certainly be stoked by advocates on both sides of the issue.
And any rush judgments could have a big impact on public opinion of the law. Right now, the majority of Americans in recent polls say they oppose the law, but the Obama administration is hoping that will turn around once people see it in action.
The first days of enrollment are a chance for that to happen — but there’s just as big a chance that the public could become convinced it’s a huge disaster, if technical breakdowns in the new health insurance exchanges dominate the news.
Tevi Troy, a former assistant secretary of health and human services under President George W. Bush and author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted,” said journalists should keep an eye on early opinion polls after coverage programs take effect to see if the public opinion needle moves.
He also urged reporters to cover the early weeks of Obamacare implementation like the start of a political campaign — not won or lost in the first few days or weeks.
Hey Tevi, whether or not a computerized system works is pretty cut and dried. It either does or doesn't. Your political campaign analogy is embarrassing, especially coming from someone who was in a Republican administration.
... The rollout of the health care law’s major coverage programs is, among many other things, a stress test for the nation’s diffuse — often schizophrenic — media landscape. It’s the first big social program implemented in the age of instant news, and it’s set against a TV news landscape that’s as politically polarized as the country.
... Obamacare supporters are pleading with reporters to avoid being seduced into treating every technical snafu as a catastrophic failure.
“The most obvious point is, the responsibility of news organizations is to report on the fact that it’s the first day, that people have the opportunity to enroll in the most significant health care program since Medicare and Medicaid,” said Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for American Now. “There are 25 million people who have that opportunity. The media ought to point that out before jumping on whether or not there’s some small problem or glitch simply because opponents holler about it.”
Even if it's not working at all, Ethan?
Sorry, guy. They've had 3-1/2 years to get it done. That's an extraordinarily long time to prepare for a rollout. It should be squeaky clean. If it's not, the first logical question will be, "What in the world have Kathlenn Sebeluis and the rest of the crew at HHS been doing?"
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.