December 9, 2013

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace took his trademark sharp-elbowed interviewing style yesterday to Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a former adviser to President Obama, brother to the former White House chief of staff and hard-core Obamacare proponent. If nothing else, the interview exposed just how difficult it is for pro-Obama types to continue defending the administration’s approach to accountability in light of one of the biggest tech disasters ever. A look at the transcript:

WALLACE: [S]hould the president fire either HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius or CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner?
EMANUEL: I think not having an independent integrator who has that expertise and not having a CEO was something that was a mistake. I think the president recognized it. They put Jeff Zients in place. They promise to put a permanent –
(CROSSTALK)
WALLACE: He came in place in October, after the disaster. My question –
EMANUEL: That was a mistake.
WALLACE: — should someone be held accountable?
EMANUEL: Look, the president is running his ship. He’s going to decide how he’s going to do it. Most companies when they decide, get right the ship and then decide what has to happen. He’ll make a decision. He’ll make a decision if he’s going to find someone else to run — he’s already committed to have someone — a new CEO to run the Web site, and the federal exchanges.
And I think that is an excellent decision to replace Jeff Zients when he goes to the National Economic Council. And I think it’s quite clear you need someone who can manage that and really run it.

How hard is it to concede that someone should lose a job over this? Not that hard, if the example of Robert Gibbs is any indication.

And the interview brings good news to all those who’ve been making do without health insurance all these years: Fox News, despite its long-running opposition to President Obama’s attempt to ensure coverage for all Americans, has developed a soft spot for the uninsured. That surfaced when Wallace was discussing with Emanuel the so-called “834″ glitches, whereby the health-care marketplace is doing an inconsistent job of notifying insurers of people’s enrollment details. Wallace pressed Emanuel on this problem:

WALLACE: Let’s get into that, because you talked about the fact that the government sends nightly 834 forms, enrollment forms, to the insurers, which tell them how many people have signed up, who they are, all the information. But it turns out that somebody — that some people are just left off entirely. That’s called an “orphan report”.
Isn’t it the fact, isn’t it certainly a real possibility, that thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people who think they’ve signed up, these so-called orphans, may end up on January 1st not having coverage?

Coming to your cable dial in just a few weeks: Fox News goes in depth on the plight of the uninsured.

(h/t Mediaite)

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.