Media piles on Jay Carney over Obamacare website debacle

ABC’s Jon Karl pressed White House press secretary Jay Carney Monday on charging people a fine for not enrolling in Obamacare when the website didn’t work. Minutes later, NBC’s Chuck Todd took a turn, asking who “misled the president” into thinking the website was ready to go.

“Let me make sure I got that last part right,” Karl said. “Given all the problems that we have seen with people trying to enroll in this program, is the White House going to be delaying the mandate?”

Carney had been trying to explain to CNN’s Brianna Keilar that exceptions would be made for those who didn’t have access by living in states who had not accepted Medicaid funding, but said he was not talking about delaying the individual mandate.

“Well why not?” Karl asked. “Why not delay? You are going to charge people a fine for not enrolling.”

Carney stuck to the talking points.

“We’re three weeks into a six-month enrollment period,” he said. “As I said, the law itself as written makes clear that Americans with access to affordable insurance would need to have insurance by March 31 … Our focus is on making the Affordable Care Act work and making sure that Americans have access to these plans. Not on figuring out who is to blame for a problem that clearly exists and we need to fix.”

Karl kept pressing.

“You can’t really charge people a fine for not getting health insurance if don’t fix this mess,” Karl said. “You can’t make the website work, can you?”

Watch Carney’s exchange with Karl here:

Moments later, Todd asked who let the president make the announcement the Obamacare website was ready for business.

“Five days before the launch, the president said it’s a website where you can compare and purchase affordable health care plans, the same way you shop for a plane ticket on Kayak,” Todd said. “Who misled him? Who misled the president on this? Are you telling me five days before that somebody let the president go out to the American public to give this speech and say this and make this promise?”

Carney said that the president made clear in his remarks Monday that he’s frustrated, and focused on making improvements.

“Adding a server would have fixed it in a heartbeat,” Todd said. “That isn’t the issue, right?”

Carney’s short response led Todd to say, “I am not a computer science guy.”

The exchange became tense over the causes of the problems, as seen here:

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