House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has a favorite trick: his staff puts together a partial transcript of closed-door testimony, they edit it in a misleading way to advance a far-right narrative, and then they look for a news organization who’ll fall for the scam.
This week, the trick involved Henry Chao, HealthCare.gov’s chief project manager at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and an alleged memo involving security risks. CBS News fell victim to Issa’s swindle, and as was first reported right here on Maddow Blog, the story was quickly proven fraudulent.
At an Oversight Committee hearing yesterday, Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) questioned Chao on this point directly, made clear that the CBS report was wrong, and saw Chao explain that his words had been “rearranged” by the partial transcript Issa released.
But wait, there’s more.
Issa also insisted this week that the White House directed the CMS to disable the so-called “anonymous shopper” function of the Affordable Care Act’s website in order to prevent “sticker shock.” How’d that work out?
Three weeks ago, Issa alleged that the White House ordered contractors to disable the “anonymous shopper” function that would allow people to compare plans. “The White House was telling them they needed these changes,” he told CBS News. Why? He told Fox News that the administration “buried the information about the high cost of Obamacare” so that consumers wouldn’t get “sticker shock.”
In testimony Wednesday, however, an administration IT expert testified that he ordered the “shopper” function disabled until defects could be repaired and that there had been no political interference.
“So when Chairman Issa stated on national television that the White House ordered you . . . to disable the shopper function in September for political reasons, to avoid consumer sticker shock, that’s not true, is it?” asked Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.).
Issa immediately objected, but it was too late – Issa’s lie (which is to say, his latest in a series of lies) had been exposed. The Republican said Tierney was mischaracterizing his claims, so Tierney read Issa’s discredited arguments out loud. (See the video below.)
I’m sure Issa and his office will continue to feed bogus stories to unsuspecting journalists. I’m less sure why anyone would keep falling for the same nonsense from someone lacking all credibility.