March 11, 2014, 02:06 pm
White House: Obama's 'Two Ferns' appearance was the 'right call'
By Justin Sink
The White House on Tuesday hailed the decision to have President Obama pitch ObamaCare during a mock interview with comedian Zach Galifianakis as a smash success, saying the video had achieved viral status.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the video was "designed to reach Americans where they live."
"And you know, they watch this show in huge numbers. I think the average video gets something like 6 million views. I'm convinced we're going to break that average. And in fact, and as I was walking out here, I think we were close to 3 million. And that's a good thing," Carney told reporters.
Carney said the White House wasn't concerned that the comedy routine might have undermined the dignity of the office of the president.
"We obviously assess opportunities that we have and, you know, look at whether or not they're going to be successful and wise," Carney said. "And I think we made the right call here."
Carney also said that Funny or Die, the website that hosts the faux-public access show “Between Two Ferns” featuring the "Hangover" star, was the No. 1 referral source to HealthCare.gov on Tuesday morning.
"The video itself was causing the action that we'd hoped it would cause, which is getting folks to go to HealthCare.gov and look at the options available to them and hopefully enroll," Carney said.
In the video, Obama and Galifianakis traded insulting barbs while promoting the website.
“Why would you get the guy who created the Zune to make your website?” Galifianakis asked.
“HealthCare.gov works great now, and millions of Americans have already gotten health insurance plans, and what we want is people to know you can get affordable healthcare,” Obama responded. “And most Americans, right now, they’re not covered, and the truth is, they can get coverage all for what it costs you to pay your cellphone bill.”
“Is this what they mean by drones?” the comedian struck back.
Later, Galifianakis rolled up his shirt sleeve to reveal the aftermath of a spider bite attack.
“That’s one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen,” Obama said.
The White House wouldn't provide specific numbers on how many potential consumers had visited the ObamaCare enrollment website after watching the video or had purchased coverage.
"The point is not the number within a few hours but that very quickly this video went, you know, viral," Carney said.
Nor would Carney say to what extent the interview was scripted with Galifianakis.
"I think we knew that there would be an opportunity to talk about Healthcare.gov, as the president says, and that that's why he was doing it, and, you know, sort of loosely what the interview might look like," he said. "But there's a lot of ad-libbing in there."
video at link