The White House held a press conference Tuesday to discuss Obamacare's enrollment numbers, but the biggest news may have been President Obama's alleged snubbing of Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. At least, that's what the White House press corps thinks. Even though the White House reaffirmed its support for her earlier today, reporters saw her absence at Monday's presser as a bad sign. BuzzFeed's White House Reporter Evan McMorris-Santoro tweeted:
on the way out, an unnamed grizzled vet of WH press corps told me lack of Sebelius mention was “biggest news” from Obama’s speech— E McMorris-Santoro (@EvanMcSan) April 1, 2014
The biggest? Not that after the catastrophic launch of the website — a launch so bad that The New Republic's Franklin Foer warned of "Obamacare's Threat to Liberalism" — 7 million people enrolled after all? The "grizzled vet" was not alone. USA Today's Washington bureau chief noted, "Victorious White House announcement. Question: Where's Secretary Sebelius?" Time's Zeke Miller tweeted that she was sitting "right in front" of Obama but "didn't get a shout out," which sounds a lot more awkward than it probably was. CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller pointed out that "Pres Obama did not mention HHS Secy Sebelius in his health care remarks. Did not have her stand by his side during his remarks," as did his counterparts at The Huffington Post and The Washington Times.
It wasn't that long ago that Republicans were calling for Sebelius's head, or when it seemed like she might actually be fired. Rep. Darrell Issa, whose hearing on the safety and efficiency of Healthcare.gov rose to level of a crusade at times, even accused Sebelius of giving "false" testimony, as Politico reported in January. Obama may have taken more heat from America, but Sebelius was the one grilled in hearings. That might mean she deserves a little more credit, but for a long time it made her an ideal person to fire, especially after the Senate rule change made it easier to confirm new cabinet members.
Earlier on Tuesday White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reassured reporters they shouldn't read too much into Sebelius's lack of time in the spotlight, adding that Obama "has had and has confidence" in Sebelius, according to The Hill. "I think you're obsessing on something that I promise you needs not obsession," Carney said. But as the great American Beyonce once said, "Say my name, say my name, you actin' kinda shady... why the sudden change?" No one can say for sure what's really going on.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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