The journalists at Good Morning America on Monday woke up to the "massive technical glitches" "plaguing millions" of Americans trying to use the ObamaCare website. The morning show, which has largely minimized the troubled debut of HealthCare.gov, featured reporter Rebecca Jarvis to lament, "It was supposed to be an easy way for Americans to sign up for health care online. But this morning, the Department of Health and Human Services, which spent $500 million to build the site, is admitting it's a bust."
Jarvis attempted to navigate the web page, but offered this perplexed assessment: "But even when we tried to access the site, we encountered this error, a registration page filled with question marks and incoherent data." [MP3 audio here .] Although the GMA journalists highlighted the problems, they also buried their impact. It wasn't until the very end of the segment that co-host George Stephanopoulos noted that the administration is "racing the clock." Jarvis agreed, pointing out, "They have to get people signed up for health insurance by January 1st, before the fines start kicking in."
Isn't the fact that millions are unable to sign up for health care, but will still be fined, the most important point?
Way back on October 1, World News previewed the new website. Reporter Paula Faris featured Max Dinette, a man trying to sign up. She explained, "He was excited to sign up today but couldn't get online because the website kept crashing, the same for many others inundating the government's health care website."
On the October 2 GMA, Josh Elliott noted that "Americans coast-to-coast are voicing frustration."
After that, however, ABC mostly downplayed problems with the website.
This week, the networks have had the story forced upon them. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is facing calls to testify about the problems. The House is investigating.
On CBS This Morning , correspondent John Dickerson offered much tougher language than what ABC has managed. He insisted that the White House faces a "credibility death spiral" over the "total fiasco" of HealthCare.gov.
A transcript of the October 21 GMA segment, which aired at 7:06am ET, follows:
ABC GRAPHIC: Tech Trouble for Govt Health Care Site: President Obama to Address Problems
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to get the latest now on the troubled launch of President Obama's health care law. Massive technical glitches have plagued millions trying to get on the government website. President Obama will address the problems today at the White House. And ABC's Rebecca Jarvis has more on what's gone wrong and how it's being fixed.
REBECCA JARVIS: It was supposed to be an easy way for Americans to sign up for health care online. But this morning, the Department of Health and Human Services, which spent $500 million to build the site, is admitting it's a bust, writing in a blog site, "we know using HealthCare.Gov has been frustrating for many Americans." They're also calling in new workers to help with glitches and problems that have plagued the website since October 1st.
NANCY PELOSI: This is unacceptable. It has to be changed. But any system that deals with that many millions of people frequently does have a glitch.
JARVIS: So far, 19 million people have visited the site, reporting issues like confusing error messages, broken calculators, wrong information on Medicaid eligibility and long delays and time-outs. But even when we tried to access the site, we encountered this error, a registration page filled with question marks and incoherent data. President Obama is expected to address the issue today. Many republicans say it's not enough.
JOHN MCCAIN: It's been a fiasco. Send Air Force One out to silicon valley, load it up with smart people, bring them back to Washington and fix the problem. It's ridiculous and everyone knows it.
JARVIS: They're now calling on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to testify before a congressional committee, Thursday, and explain why the health care roll out has been so sickly.
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: We'll make sure this program works well.
JARVIS: And for that first hearing looking into these glitches, which happens later this week on Thursday, Secretary Sebelius, who oversaw the site construction is not expected to testify. Her office says it is because of a conflict with timing, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They're really racing the clock here. They have got to get these fixes in before December.
JARVIS: They do. They have to get people signed up for health insurance by January 1st, before the fines start kicking in.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, Rebecca Jarvis, thanks very much.
— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.