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Troubles plaguing the federal government’s Affordable Care Act website are big news. But to get the point, do we really need to watch people physically attempting to navigate the site?
CNN says "yes," and devoted 90 minutes of programming on Thursday to just that. And they’ve brought back their countdown clock to mark the proceedings. The countdown clock has been a go-to move for CNN recently, rolled out to keep a running timer on the government shutdown and the debt limit ceiling.
For the Obamcare website segment, “Situation Room” host Wolf Blitzer stationed three guests at desktop computers and monitored their attempts to register on the federal government’s Affordable Care Act site.
So, what kind of breathtaking results were viewers treated to?
“I’m actually able to look at the different options quite easily,” guest Laura McNeil told CNN’s Emmy award-winning journalist Tom Foreman as the newsroom cameras zoomed in and out on her and the other two individuals looking at their computers. However, “It won’t tell me what I need to finalize to move forward,” she added.
Fellow would-be enrollee Gabe Cohen added, “I think I saw a couple of options, but I wasn’t quite sure if I qualified for them.”
From there, the drama continued to unfold.
As if waiting more than an hour to get health insurance isn’t bad enough, Foreman informed Cohen that the government has suggested people who can’t enroll online consider filling out a paper application.
“I can’t believe it,” Cohen said in shocked response.
The segment also featured a number of expert guests who were asked to weigh in on the proceedings, including former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.)
As it turns out, CNN was only following on the heels of a parody segment aired on Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” Wednesday night. During that segment, Stephen Colbert works with an appointed website navigator in a feigned attempt to enroll.
After Colbert puts his website navigator through great pains to enroll his fictional persona, the Affordable Care Act website crashes.
For his part, Blitzer said the enrollment countdown clock would be shut down after 90 minutes.
“They’re still at it, right here in the Situation Room, and they’re having some serious problems,” Blitzer said. "Nearly 90 minutes later, and not a single person has been able to complete the process."
However, rest assured: Blitzer promised to follow up with all three guests on Friday.