Here is what happened.
Conservative radio talk show host Sean Hannity called the Affordable Care Act 800 “Hotline” to determine what information was being disseminated there. After all, the news media, without calling the line, was misinforming the public about what awaited them: CNN Headline News’s cheery morning host Robin Meade, for example, said, “They don’t have to use the website to enroll, right? Now they can do it over the phone?” Wrong.
He called, and this transpired, as described by Mediaite (you can also hear the call at the link):
“After President Obama gave out the phone number for the official Obamacare registration hotline Monday morning, radio host Sean Hannity called in to speak with a human representative… Eventually, he made his way to a help line with a female operator named “Earline Davis.” Hannity proceeded to ask Earline questions about the difficulties experienced on HealthCare.gov, prompting her to explain that many people have called to vent their frustrations and that all she can tell them is that the site will likely experience difficulties for the next 42 hours. The radio host also asked the woman the particulars of her job: When did she begin working on Obamacare calls, how long she trained for answering calls, and whether her bosses have told her what to say when asked about the “glitchy” website. Hannity even managed to convince the woman to read the “script” aloud on the radio:
“Thanks for your interest in the health insurance marketplace. We are having a lot of visitors trying to use our website right now. This is causing some glitches for some people trying to create an account or log in. Keep trying and thanks for your patience. You might have better success during off-peak hours like later at night or early in the morning. We’ll continue working to improve the site so you can get covered.”
“And that’s the whole thing? So you went through a whole week of training so you can do that?” Hannity asked before attempting to cut her off, perhaps sensing the sensitivities involved with such a question. He then asked her questions for which she clearly had no answers: “Did you know how much the government spent on that website?” “Isn’t that crazy?” “Did you know the president promised the average family was going to save $2,500 dollars, and the average increase is $7,500 a year?” Hannity complimented for the operator for being so polite and kind, but also asked her questions that could possibly put her job on the line: “Have you ever gotten anyone who really likes it yet?” he asked at another point. “Um, not really,” she admitted, sending the radio host into a fit of laughter.
The conversation later switched to small talk about her residence in Panama City, Fla. , the weather in Florida versus New York, her non-registered voting status, and her lack of knowledge about Fox News or any major right-wing talk radio hosts.”
She was fired.
Hannity then had Davis on his radio and Fox TV shows, where she said she was fired for talking to the news media, though she had never been told that she was prohibited from doings so. Hannity announced that he would pay her salary for the year and also help her find another job.
Now some ethics questions and answers about the incident: Continue reading