“Armageddon has not arrived,” Barack Obama said Tuesday while announcing that 7 million people had overcome months of negative press and a malfunctioning Web site to sign up for the Affordable Care Act before its enrollment deadline. “Instead, this law is helping millions of Americans, and in the coming years it will help millions more.”
Behind-the-scenes reports on the tireless push to up enrollment numbers, however, reveal that Armageddon very nearly did arrive, and an unlikely hero has emerged. Two-time Oscar-nominee and French speaker Bradley Cooper was at the White House for a February 11 state dinner with French President François Hollande. Cooper met with Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to discuss ways he could help promote Obamacare sign-ups.
Cooper, according to Politico, pitched Jarrett on Between Two Ferns, the viral mock-interview series hosted by Zach Galifianakis, Cooper’s cast mate from The Hangover movies. Cooper reportedly took out his cell phone and put Galifianakis on speaker. The host was game, and Jarrett and Press Secretary Jay Carney sold Obama on the idea. One month after Cooper floated the idea to Jarrett, the public was watching the president mock The Hangover and deliver his own Obamacare pitch to the American people. Healthcare.gov traffic increased by almost 40 percent compared with the day prior, and FunnyorDie—where Between Two Ferns lives—was the Web site’s biggest source of referrals that day.
On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius went on HuffPost Live to say the administration “definitely saw the Galifianakis bump,” noting that “Web site traffic surged once the Between Two Ferns interview went on.” The video itself now has more than 20 million views, and a healthy share of viewers followed links to healthcare.gov to sign up for the insurance offered under the Affordable Care Act.
The Hangover Part III earned Cooper and Galifianakis plenty of ridicule and dismal reviews in 2013, but since its release, Cooper received his second Oscar nomination and Galifianakis interviewed a sitting president. Together, they also helped get millions of Americans insured—and handed Obama his largest victory of 2014. American history is weird.
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