Celebrities who promoted ObamaCare now quiet in wake of website debacle
By Hollie McKay
Published October 24, 2013
LOS ANGELES – In the heady days after the October 1 launch of the Affordable Care Act -- better known as ObamaCare -- Lady Gaga, Amy Poehler, Nina Dobrev, Rosario Dawson, Sarah Silverman, Olivia Wilde, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Pearl Jam, Lance Bass, John Legend, Alyssa Milano and Kerry Washington joined the President to encourage Americans to #getcovered.
Since then, technical glitches and website snafus have so marred the ObamaCare website that the team who built it has been called to testify before Congress on Thursday. But there will be no celebrities flanking them on Capitol Hill, as the stars that helped launch the initiative are now being advised to walk away.
One well-placed Hollywood agent told FOX411 that while Obama and ObamaCare are separate issues, and that you can support one without the other, public relations teams across the industry are cautioning their clients to now lay off the latter. Even Oprah Winfrey, one of the President’s most influential mouthpieces during his first election, reportedly refused to get on-board and lend a hand.
“Hollywood has gone from pushing #getcovered to heading for cover,” Dan Gainor, VP of Business and Culture at the Media Research Center told FOX411. “Stars like Lady Gaga and Sarah Silverman pushed their ObamaCare propaganda to more than 67 million fans on social media. But don’t expect them to be honest about the situation.”
Georgia attorney Patrick Millsaps, who served as chief of staff of Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign and manages several Hollywood names, said celebrities, like most public figures, know where to draw the line.
“They are starting to realize they too were sold a bill of goods and aren’t going to be accomplices in a continued fraud,” he said. “This is an easy decision for a manager – you can’t let your client promote a crappy product.”
“Many of my Hollywood friends still believe in this guy,” Millsaps added. “But I think their faith is being tested.”
Publicist Ronn Torossian of 5WPR agreed. “When things go wrong, naturally celebrities won’t want to be outspoken. But don’t expect them to be quiet for long,” he said. “They will stand up again as soon as President Obama asks them to.”
Enter Scarlett Johansson. One of President Obama’s best celebrity friends (she revealed during his campaign that the two were text buddies), Johansson has lent her voice to a Planned Parenthood message that’s played when calls are placed to some of their health centers. “Did you know you may be able to enroll in new, more affordable health insurance plans?” Johansson asks before directing callers to a Planned Parenthood section on the new Affordable Care Act website.
Whether callers can get through to that web address is, obviously, another issue.