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CBS Spotlights House GOP Hammering ObamaCare Managers; ABC, NBC Minimize

On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Nancy Cordes zeroed in on the three Republican congressmen who grilled top administration officials during a hearing on ObamaCare, ballyhooing that "none of them were really able to explain why this product they worked on for years was so flawed". Cordes played extended clips from the hearing totaling 51 seconds – nearly twice the combined number of ABC's World News and NBC Nightly News, which each played 13 seconds from it.

The correspondent played up one clip in particular from White House chief technology officer Todd Park, who gave indications that HealthCare.gov might not be fixed by the target date of November 30 [MP3 audio available here; video below]:

NANCY CORDES: Todd Park is the chief technology officer for the White House. He's now working full time on fixing the website. South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy wanted a timeline.

REP. TREY GOWDY, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA (from congressional hearing): When will it be operational to your satisfaction?

PARK: Well, we have a goal that the team is pursuing with tremendous intensity.

GOWDY: How many more weeks? I'm looking for a number.

PARK: We're working hard to have the site functioning by the end of this month.

CORDES (on-camera): That carefully-crafted answer, which was repeated more than once, led some lawmakers to believe that the administration's confidence that it can really get all these bugs fixed by November 30 may be slipping.

Besides Park's testimony, Cordes played soundbites from Representatives Scott DesJarlais and Jason Chaffetz, went after Henry Chao of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

By contrast, on NBC Nightly News, journalist Chuck Todd featured an individual clip of Rep. Darrell Issa giving the ObamaCare website an "F" rating, and another excerpt where the California Republican questioned Park.

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA, (R), CALIFORNIA (from congressional hearing): Will it work on November 30 – properly; fully?

PARK: The team set a goal of having HealthCare.gov function smoothly for the vast majority of Americans. The team is working incredibly hard to meet that goal.

On World News, ABC's Jonathan Karl focused on a different revelation from the congressional hearing: the hundreds of millions of dollars that the Obama administration spent on a beyond flawed website:

JONATHAN KARL: ..[T]he most eye-popping revelation came from one of the government's top accountants: the first official estimate of how much the website has cost so far.

DAVID POWNER, GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE (from congressional hearing): By the end of September, it was north of 600 million [dollars] spent.

KARL: $600 million – to put that in context, that's more than four times what Apple spent to develop the iPhone.

REP. JOHN DUNCAN, (R), TENNESSEE (from congressional hearing): If we've spent 600 million already and it's not working, does anybody have any idea how much all this is going to cost us in the end?

KARL: The answer: nobody knows.

The transcripts of the ObamaCare reports from Tuesday's World News on ABC, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News:

DIANE SAWYER: We lead with a moment of truth for President Obama and that troubled health care website. We knew about the glitches and the apology from the President. But today, we learned a stark number: how few Americans actually signed up on that federal site – fewer than you can fit in Yankee Stadium. And this as we finally meet the woman whose face was on the home page, and she is saying, don't blame her.

ABC's chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl starts us off.

JONATHAN KARL (voice-over): During the first month, just 26,000 people were able to select health insurance through the federal website or over the phone – a stunningly low number. Fourteen states and D.C. operate their own health insurance marketplaces and did better – nearly 80,000. But all told, ObamaCare is way behind the administration's goal of 500,000 for the first month, and the seven million they hope to enroll by March.

Those numbers and who they sign up are critical to making ObamaCare work. Even before the numbers came out today, the White House put the blame on the troubled website.

[ABC News Graphic: "ObamaCare Stunner: White House Releases Real Numbers"]

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY (from press briefing): I can only tell you that we fully expect that the numbers will be even lower than anticipated because of the significant challenges caused by the website.

KARL: But that line is not quieting anger in Congress, where today, the most eye-popping revelation came from one of the government's top accountants: the first official estimate of how much the website has cost so far.

DAVID POWNER, GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE (from congressional hearing): By the end of September, it was north of 600 million [dollars] spent.

KARL: $600 million – to put that in context, that's more than four times what Apple spent to develop the iPhone.

REP. JOHN DUNCAN, (R), TENNESSEE (from congressional hearing): If we've spent 600 million already and it's not working, does anybody have any idea how much all this is going to cost us in the end?

KARL: The answer: nobody knows.

Meanwhile, today, one of the enduring mysteries of HealthCare.Gov was solved.

JON STEWART (from Comedy Central's "The Daily Show"): They got rid of that smiling lady!
                    
KARL: ABC News tracked her down. Her name is Adriana. She is a mom and a native of Colombia, who now lives in the U.S. What started as a simple photo shoot turned her life upside-down.

ADRIANA: I didn't design the website. I didn't make it fail. (laughs) So, I don't think they should have any reason to hate me.

KARL (on-camera): Tomorrow, the President is expected to get an earful from some of his strongest supporters. All of the Democratic senators are coming down here to the White House, where topic number one will not be the thousands who have managed to sign up for ObamaCare, but the millions who have been receiving cancellation notices from their insurance companies. Diane?

SAWYER: All right. Jonathan Karl, thank you so much tonight.


11/13/2013
06:34 pm EST
CBS Evening News

SCOTT PELLEY: Now back to the technical problems with HealthCare.gov – some of the administration's top computer experts appeared today before a House committee that was demanding to know what went wrong.

Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill for us tonight. Nancy?

NANCY CORDES: Scott, these are the managers who have really been on the front lines of creating, and now, fixing HealthCare.gov. In fact, one even testified that he slept on his office floor the week that the site launched. But none of them were really able to explain why this product they worked on for years was so flawed.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1 (from congressional hearing): Do you solemnly swear-

CORDES (voice-over): Under oath, some of the administration's top technology officers testified they were caught off guard by the website's poor performance – even though they knew well in advance that some key components weren't working, like a feature that allowed users to comparison shop for insurance plans without creating an account.

HENRY CHAO, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID (from congressional hearing): It failed so miserably that we could not conscionably let people use it.

CORDES: Henry Chao is the manager at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, who was most involved in developing the website. He came in for the most criticism from Republicans, like Tennessee's Scott DesJarlais.

REP. SCOTT DESJARLAIS, (R), TENNESSEE (from congressional hearing): Knowing what you know now, would you have pushed harder to move the date back?

CHAO: I go by what I said.

DESJARLAIS: So, you would let history repeat itself? It's been a rocky – Mister Park-

CHAO: That's not what I said-

DESJARLAIS: Would you have – would you have-

CHAO: That is not what I said!

CORDES: Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz had questions for Chao about the site's security.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, (R), UTAH (from congressional hearing): Mister Chao, would you put all your personal information about you and your loved ones in it?

CHAO: Yes, in fact, I've recommended my sister, who is unemployed right now, to actually-

CHAFFETZ: Did she successfully register – sign up?

CHAO: I haven't talked to her lately.

CORDES: He said the site can now accommodate about 20 to 25,000 users at one time – a big improvement from the first week, but still far short of the original goal of 50 to 60,000.

TODD PARK (from congressional hearing): I'm part of all-hands-on-deck efforts to mobilize across the administration-

CORDES: Todd Park is the chief technology officer for the White House. He's now working full time on fixing the website. South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy wanted a timeline.

REP. TREY GOWDY, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA (from congressional hearing): When will it be operational to your satisfaction?

PARK: Well, we have a goal that the team is pursuing with tremendous intensity.

GOWDY: How many more weeks? I'm looking for a number.

PARK: We're working hard to have the site functioning by the end of this month.

CORDES (on-camera): That carefully-crafted answer, which was repeated more than once, led some lawmakers to believe that the administration's confidence that it can really get all these bugs fixed by November 30 may be slipping, Scott.

PELLEY: Nancy, thank you.


11/13/2013
07:06 am EST
NBC Nightly News

BRIAN WILLIAMS: In this country tonight, the numbers are finally out, and they confirm the new health insurance program is in big trouble – just 27,000 people have enrolled on the federal website, HealthCare.gov; just 106,000 have signed up for so-called ObamaCare overall.

Our chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd, following this story all day, is with us from there tonight. Chuck, good evening.

CHUCK TODD: Good evening, Brian. You know, the numbers tell a grim story – frighteningly low enrollment; barely enough people to fill one football stadium. And this just isn't disastrous news for the health care law. It's now a political firestorm for the President, as even the Democrats in Congress begin to panic.

TODD (voice-over): The news was so bad Secretary Kathleen Sebelius avoided cameras, and delivered it over the phone.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY (via conference phone call): As of this first period, 106,000 Americans have enrolled in qualified health plans through the marketplace.

TODD: And she avoided admitting that of the 106,000 enrollees, just a quarter enrolled via the federal government's website – less than 27,000. Most came through the 15 state-run exchanges. In fact, California's exchange alone outperformed the feds, signing up nearly 10,000 more folks.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY (from press briefing): Nobody is satisfied. Nobody who supports health care reforms and supports successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act is satisfied with what we've seen out of the website.

TODD: Sebelius tried to look on the bright side, noting there are nearly a million Americans who have completed applications, but are still shopping.

SEBELIUS: Even with the issues we've had, the marketplace is working, and people are enrolling.

TODD: But they aren't enrolling fast enough. The administration had projected 500,000 people would sign up in October. In order for the program to work in its first year, the administration needs at least three million to enroll by March 31 – a tall order, but no reason for panic yet, says one of the chief architects of the law.

PROFESSOR JONATHAN GRUBER, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: I realize we all want to pay attention to these numbers, but the point is it's not the first month that matters. It's the sixth month. It's what happens in March that really matters.

TODD: But before March comes, the administration has to get past November 30 – the new deadline by which the President promised to have the HealthCare.gov website functioning smoothly.

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA, (R), CALIFORNIA (from congressional hearing): Well, I'm going to give it a grade. This was an F.

TODD: In a contentious congressional hearing today, Republicans doubted the new deadline would be met.

ISSA: Will it work on November 30 – properly; fully?

TODD PARK, U.S. CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER: The team set a goal of having HealthCare.gov function smoothly for the vast majority of Americans. The team is working incredibly hard to meet that goal.

TODD (on-camera): And while the Republicans hammered the administration on camera today, the Democrats did it behind the scenes, Brian. The White House got an earful from panicked House Democrats. Tomorrow, the White House is going to hear from nervous Senate Democrats, who fear their political power and this law are suddenly on life support.

WILLIAMS: All right. Chuck Todd from the White House for us tonight – Chuck, thanks.

— Matthew Balan is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matthew Balan on Twitter.