'Morning Joe' Panel Hammers Robert Gibbs on Obamacare

November 4, 2013

Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs faced a heavy round of questioning Monday from Morning Joe, from how the Obamacare website had been botched so badly to who let Obama make his debunked promise about everyone keeping their health plan if they liked it.

MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle discussed Washington Post article entitled, " How political fear was pitted against technical needs," which delved into internal discussions about whether anyone in the administration was "up to the task" of overseeing such a massive enterprise. Among those concerned was White House National Economic Council director Larry Summers, who along with others advised the president to appoint an outside health "czar," while other top aides said they could handle it.

"Larry Summers was an outsider in the very inner circle of that administration," Barnicle said. "Most of you had been together since 2007. An outsider, Larry Summers, says we've got to take a look at this because it could get screwed up. So the question is, how insular was that White House or is that White House now? Who, other than you, in that White House would go in and say, 'This is a mess. We've got to put the brakes on and fix it.'"

Gibbs said Summers was an "enormously bright man" who understood how complex the rollout would be, but other than naming David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel, neither of whom are in the administration any longer, he couldn't think of anyone who could challenge Obama in the current White House.

"So why not delay the launch?" co-host Joe Scarborough asked.

"It's a good question and I don't know the answer because we're learning all of this stuff after the launch happened, so I don't know the answer to that," Gibbs replied.

Earlier in the segment, Scarborough pondered how so many errors could happen inside this White House.

"Looking back, people are going to be scratching their heads for years, going 'How did they make those mistakes?'" Scarborough said. "How do mistakes like this happen inside the West Wing?"

Gibbs called the Washington Post piece a "fairly devastating" article for pointing out no one person had purview over the entire project.

"Robert, you're a communications guy and you were there," co-host Mika Brzezinski said. "It's millions of people. You know what's going to happen in the press. You know there's going to be hardships for those people. Why would you let your president say that?"

"I don't recall significant discussions around some of the verbiage on this, to be 100 percent honest with you," Gibbs said.

"But do you agree it was a wrong move?" Mika asked.

"Oh, well certainly," he said.