David Callaway, Editor-in-Chief of USA Today, is so upset by Republicans using the HealthCare.gov roll-out mess to discredit ObamaCare, that he penned an op-ed for Friday’s edition of the national newspaper to dismiss the problems as a blip with no relevance to the overall program.
Headlined “Obama’s Y2K moment ,” Callaway unpersuasively equated the current situation of the ongoing dysfunctional HeathCare.gov with the concerns before January 1, 2000 about how that date change could cause computer havoc. But it did not, so he equated an actual technology mess with one that never occurred, contending the current situation is just like Y2K – a big nothing.
The sub-head for the October 25 piece: “In the end, HealthCare.gov fiasco will be a footnote.”
Callaway, in the op-ed, argued: “The health exchange digital breakdown is Obama’s Y2K moment, a frightening series of confusing mishaps that threatens social and political breakdown. But it ultimately will be a footnote in the broader national debate over our dysfunctional healthcare system.”
Earlier in the article, Callaway excused the administration’s failure:
Anyone who ever worked on a website launch or redesign can sympathize with the plight of the Obama health care team in the last few weeks. Delays, technical snafus and the inevitable “de-scoping” of vital service functions ahead of launch to make deadline are the standards, not the exception. Yet few have had to perform against the pressure of unveiling a working product in the spotlight of the biggest social and political issue of our times, other than maybe Social Security.
“The history of great technical snafus serves as a guide” to how companies overcome snafus, Callaway proposed in listing the United-Continental merger, how “the launch of Grand Theft Auto, Apple Maps, and Microsoft Vista all spurred great gnashing of digital teeth at the time, but did not ultimately hurt the reputations of their creators.”
After citing a few more, Callaway arrived at his grand equivalence: “The granddaddy of them all, of course, was the tech disaster that never was, Y2K. The turn of the millennium computer and software scare held the entire world at breathless attention as 1999 came to a close and helped spawn the modern tech consulting and contracting business....By 12:15 a.m., the band was playing again, and we wondered how we ever got so caught up in the madness in the first place.”
— Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Follow Brent Baker on Twitter.