When the normally liberal Jon Stewart concludes a Comedy Central interview with Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services secretary, with the phrase “maybe she’s just lying to me” you know a media milestone in the coverage of Obamacare has been marked.
The Comedy Central host began his grilling of Sebelius last night by opening his laptop and challenging her: “I’m going to try and download every movie ever made, and you’re going to try to sign up for Obamacare, and we’ll see which happens first.”
Sebelius responded that the start-up problems with Obamacare websites were the result of massive public interest in signing up for health insurance. She said the website was improving: “It’s better today than it was yesterday, and it will keep getting better.”
But when asked by Stewart how many people had signed up, she responded: “Fully enrolled? I can’t tell you because I don’t know.”
Stewart then asked about an apparent contradiction in Obamacare by pointing out that employers were granted a one-year delay in implementation while individuals are still required to buy insurance. He didn’t accept any of Sebelius’s rambling justifications. “Am I a stupid man?” he finally asked.
As he finished his show, with Sebelius no longer on set, Stewart admitted, “I still don’t understand why individuals have to sign up and businesses don’t.”
Perhaps it is just too complicated to grasp easily, he said. “But then I think to myself, well maybe she’s just lying to me — just to me.”
Ouch. I doubt that Sebelius’s handlers will be letting her anywhere near Stewart again anytime soon. Obamacare’s credibility with the younger viewers that Sebelius desperately wants to sign up for Obamacare certainly took a hit last night.