Fact Check: Did Obama and Sebelius Only Meet in Person Once?

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, announces a revamped contraception policy on Feb. 10, 2012, in Washington

A column in Politico magazine today makes the astonishing claim that President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had just one in-person meeting at the White House between March 23, 2010, the day the Affordable Care Act was signed, and Nov. 30, 2013. The author of the column, Peter Schweizer, bases his assertion on an analysis of the president’s public schedule and offers an explanation for why it shows the President and the chief implementer of his signature policy achievement “almost never” met over the past three years.

Perhaps the insular White House team wanted to distance the president from the bureaucratic process in the hopes of granting him a halo of deniability if the launch failed. . . . Obama’s critics say his loner style makes him unusually uninterested in working with other politicians.

The problem? Sebelius and the President did meet— a lot. “She is frequently at the White House for meetings related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including dozens with the President in the last year alone,” says Joanne Peters, a  spokeswoman for HHS. “In fact, she met with the President just yesterday.”

The problem with Schweizer’s analysis is his data set: Cabinet Secretaries who regularly come to the White House are not always recorded in the White House visitors log or listed on the president’s public schedule. But Schweizer, a former foreign policy adviser to Sarah Palin and a fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank, based the column on an analysis of the official presidential schedule and a presidential calendar published by Politico. Featuring several pie charts and color-coded tables, the analysis was put together by the Government Accountability Institute. Schweizer is GAI’s president and the organization says its mission is “To investigate and expose crony capitalism, misuse of taxpayer monies, and other governmental corruption or malfeasance.”

Sebelius has said that the President was never told the launch of HealthCare.gov was destined to flop, which is why it’s relevant to understand more about how much Sebelius knew about its problems and what she conveyed to the president. But it’s clear that analyzing the White House presidential calendar is not a good place to start this fact finding mission, as this official document does not record all—or even most—of the interactions between Obama and those who work for him.

Previous news stories and columns analyzing the presidential calendar and White House visitor logs have similarly offered a skewed snapshot of how Obama spends his time. In May 2012, the Washington Post published an item called “Which Cabinet secretary visits the least,” analyzing the White House visitor logs to determine how often Obama met with cabinet members. The piece noted that “the database covering guests to the White House complex doesn’t show us every visit” but the Post published a follow up item the next day pointing out that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had visited the White House 681 times, far more than the 33 times that showed up in the visitor logs.

In 2012, Marc Thiessen published a column in the Post citing a GAI report to make the claim that Obama “skips” more than half of his daily intelligence briefings. The Post’s chief fact checker Glenn Kessler called the claim “bogus” and “specious” and awarded it “three Pinocchios.”

101 comments
TheSteelGeneral
TheSteelGeneral

" But Schweizer, a former foreign policy adviser to Sarah Palin " 

Yah. I kinda stopped  reading after that.

JarBinks
JarBinks

Your source that you use to contradict Schweizer's claim is an employee of Sebelius.  Isn't that a conflict of interest?  Maybe his research wasn't thorough enough before making that claim, but your research used to refute that claim is almost a joke.

ducdebrabant
ducdebrabant

The people who believe Obama met only one time with one of his cabinet secretaries over a three year period will believe ANYTHING, anything at ALL, no matter how preposterous, that fits their narrative of the evil Obama or the incompetent Obama or the Muslim Obama, or whatever nonexistent Obama they believe in.

TerryClifton02
TerryClifton02

Sebelius said that Obama wasn't told that the website was about to flop, sound familiar? Every scandal his administration has been involved in, magically, Obama wasn't told. Which could make sense considering how many times the dude plays golf. I wonder how he knows when it's time to eat, the man isn't told anything.

reallife
reallife

@TerryClifton02 what's next? 

"Michelle? Michelle who?

I did not have sexual relations with that woman..."


LOL



TheSteelGeneral
TheSteelGeneral

WHAT!?! You're implying that the president had sex with Michelle Bachman? That's low, even for RepubliKKKans.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

If Obama met Sebelius more than once and was serious about his Obama Care, he would have an idea how his project is coming along. He got caught flat footed by the events starting in the roll out, he made promises which if he had consulted with his advisers he would have never made. Yes there is a high probability he met only with Sebelius only once. But I am sure he met with JayZ and Beyonce more than a dozen times to update himself the happenings in the celebrity world where he aspires to be once his term is up.

bankerkam
bankerkam

It's a shame that we can't disagree without being disagreeable. Unfortunately for those invested in this administration's failure don't seem to understand that the failure will be ours. I don't believe anyone who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue wants to do a bad job for the American people, but our discourse can be a fact free zone and sensationalized headlines win the daily new news cycle. The media is lazy and anyone with a blog, typewriter or paper route can be deemed a credible news source. Somewhere Edwin R. Murrow, David Brinkley and William F. Buckley are spinning in there graves.

reallife
reallife

Kathleen Sebelius must've been living in Uncle Omar's house. That's why he's never seen her.


LOL


TerryClifton02
TerryClifton02

No one knew Obama lived with Uncle Omar until they lied and said he didn't. Oh, now I remember..

jeanniestanley
jeanniestanley

no one is fooled by your swampie investigations--you are a mouthpiece for this lying admin and the president

barneydidit
barneydidit

@jeanniestanley Yeah, nobody is fooled by your data and facts....we don't need no stinkin facts...look how well Sara Palin has done without any. 

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@barneydidit @jeanniestanley Barney, ahem. Maybe if you could point out where Sarah Palin has done without any facts we could start the discussion rolling. Care to start with the Death Panels ?

jdsocal
jdsocal

FBI: John Dillinger wanted for bank robbery.

Time: Fact Check: Dillinger spokesman denies bank robberies.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@jdsocal another fine example of the sort of person who's willing to lap up horse pi$$ as long as it comports to his worldview. How's that Romney victory working out for you? 


barneydidit
barneydidit

@jdsocal "the Post published a follow up item the next day pointing out that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had visited the White House 681 times, far more than the 33 times that showed up in the visitor logs"

So obviously using the Visitor Logs as a basis for a visitation theory doesn't work, but you seem willing to overlook this point JD.  Seems like a strong indication of Obama Derangement Syndrome. 



TerryClifton02
TerryClifton02

Clinton should have been doing her damn job at State, and maybe those men wouldn't have had to die over that video and spontaneous demonstration that turned violent once those "non-terrorists" used mortars and RPG's that they just happened to be carrying along with signs, calling for Cal to beat Stanford.  

TerryClifton02
TerryClifton02

Spoken like a true Medicaid recipient. How's that free health insurance working out for you?

TheSteelGeneral
TheSteelGeneral

Free? It's not free, YOU are paying for my health care. Way it should be.

TheSteelGeneral
TheSteelGeneral

If Dubya had been doing his job, I would not have lost four buddies in Iraq, who went back for just one more tour. They needed the cash, their parents were gonna lose their farm and their house....

If Dubya had been doing his job, Lehman brothers would not have collapsed 6 weeks BEFORE the election. So, then McCain would have been president. Dubya hated McCain so much, he virtually gave Obama the presidency.

jdsocal
jdsocal

So Time, your "fact check" is an Obama admin's spokeswoman's claims? Wow, that's some deep investigative journalism there. What next, will you get a quote from mice denying any involvement with missing cheese?


Even if this is true, then perhaps you should demand some information about what the President knew about Healthcare.gov's & Obamacare's failures and when he knew it?

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

How people (Okay the Beltway pundits) continue to take Drudgico seriously amazes me. 

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@jdsocal Only because it's not the first time someone's spewed a steaming pile of horseshi^ besed on the White House vistor logs. At a certain point, it gets old.



jdsocal
jdsocal

You actually buy an HHS spokeswoman as a "fact check?"

TerryClifton02
TerryClifton02

According Paul, if Obama say's it true, its true, 100% of the time. Just like stuff the internet is always true, bonjour.

bmmg39
bmmg39

Do you have any proof, Kate Pickert? (Hint: an interview with someone from the HHS doesn't count.)

ParthaNeogy
ParthaNeogy

"But Schweizer, a former foreign policy adviser to Sarah Palin and a fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank, based the column on an analysis of the official presidential schedule and a presidential calendar published by Politico"


No.  Schweizer based his column on sloppy journalism, perhaps even deliberate deception, in the hope of reinforcing and justifying the hostility and resentment that his readers already feel for Obama. His misreporting and speculations about isolating Obama from a likely botched launch of ACA are yellow journalism at its worst.  But then, what else would you expect from a Palin Advisor and a Hoover fellow?

ParthaNeogy
ParthaNeogy

From his sloppy journalistic product.

simonzee197340
simonzee197340

The U.S media is a lapdog for this President. If you did not have Murdoch interests in America like we had here in Australia we would all be stuffed. In Australia the Labor socialists and the ABC were supporting measures to have the free press regulated. This would have seen the free press conform to the whims of the government of the day. In America you have the opposite which are lefties dominating the media landscape. The best way to marganilise these nit-wits is to speak out and create a counter insurgency of critique and careful reflection. This President is disengaged, "FACT!" and he is an incompetent. His attacks on exceptionalism will only make the situation of many of your dying cities worse. His policies of redistribution will expand the dependent classes and he is not far away from introoducing more ecconomic harm through renewable targets that will be as profitable for his pick more winners entrants as was running illegal drinking dens in the Prohibition era. Add this to discussions over Obama bringing in a carbon tax which Labor introduced and made it costly to take out of our economy something we are in the process of doing now. Already the lefties are talking about sanctioning those who do not conform to their action plan on the environment. As of late this has included sabotage in the form of Wikileaks and Snowden leaking information to the left wing extremists in The Guardian to destroy trade relations with our neighbours here in Australia. Anyone who considers Assange and Snowden a hero think again. They are part of these left wing extremist crews leaking info against conservative governments.

Americans need to face the fact that Obama was put in as a black face as opposed to a white, pink or yellow one...who cares...because it was what the left wanted and Anerica is paying the price with this "HOPELESS" "IDEOLOGUE" full of policy on the run both within and without America. And the leftist media will support him because they are ideologically driven just like him and intellectually challanged with not a pragmatic bone in their bodies.

WELL DONE KYLEBECKWR1! A person who has hit the nail on the head instead of being a Homer and defending this Hollywood president.

I have a message for Tom Hanks the Forest Gump of American politics.. "Life is full of a box of Ideologues..you never know what idiot you are going to support next."

simonzee197340
simonzee197340

Now that you have finished your environmental activist rant read my response to ".. .91" above.

drudown
drudown

@simonzee197340

Yawn.


Reagan Administration killed the Fairness Act and that WEAKENED the Free Press.


Lo and behold, your "savior" Murdoch and his Faux News helped the last GOP President "sell" a war with Iraq under FALSE and DELIBERATELY MISLEADING pretenses. How can you credibly contend there is any "benefit" to the People?


Oh, btw. 


"I'd just love" to here you argue "for a pro-fracking policy" in Australia. Given that it is (1) the driest Continent [i.e., fracking consumes far, far too much water to justify opportunity cost] and (2) ANY methane leakage KILLS all life in the surrounding vicinity?


Oh, and I'm sure the Benzene in the existing water table is ok with you?


(readers should watch "Gas Land" to hold the GOP's Foreign Puppeteer's "final solution" for Western Civilization face to face)

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

I value honesty in reporting. Something Murdoch properties have never been known for. Instead they are nothing more than propaganda shops for right wing ideology.

simonzee197340
simonzee197340

You just keep valuing that free speech like we do in Australia. Just don't be ignorant of the difference between terrible events and actions; and actions that would legislate concrete changes that would take away the rights to free speech. We know that many of these tax payer funded lefties as in the ABC here in Australia would love to regulate much further and thank goodness they were unsuccessful. The ABC here in OZ cannot even keep to their own Charter and yet they supported legislation that would restrict all other news outlets but theirs because they were tax payer funded. Do you see the disease of an expansion of thought police mechanisms connected to incompetent governments.

When all is said and done outlets like the ABC and many others hate the fact that these other commercial news outlets are so sucessful in catering to the common sense person who is pragmatically driven instead of ideologically driven.

By the way observe the off topic comments you have made and those on fracking from Homer below which just demonstrate an activism and lack of common sense. You cannot see what is looking at you...what is staring you in the face.

aztecian
aztecian

murdoch is a tool for the kkkock brothers!

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Ah yes Murdoch. The guy that wiretapped the phones of a dead girls family. There is an ideal to aspire to.

drudown
drudown

@simonzee197340


Your refusal to respond to the merits only "outs" you as a "paid for" shill of the Energy and Gas lobby. 

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

 "...they are nothing more than propaganda shops for right wing ideology."

Ideology is a system of ideas and ideals. "Conservatives" only do dogma. Or, perhaps, dogma do.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@mantisdragon91 Come on Mantis. Surely you do not believe Rupert himself wiretapped the phones. He has people to do that for him. That is already lie number one from you. Do not choose Obama as your role model.

TerryClifton02
TerryClifton02

Simonzee, 


Mantis prefers state run media (MSNBC) that gets its talking points straight from "off the record" meetings held with Obama. He has this thing about Fox News, and any other news outlet that dares speaks ill or questions Obama.

TerryClifton02
TerryClifton02

notice even the crazies from the left know not to step there..lol..

drudown
drudown

@manlyman


Show me how 'Gas land' was "debunked"? Where is the EVIDENCE to support such an absurd proposition?

drudown
drudown

@TerryClifton02


(enter Blonde Girl voice) "You want to talk crazies? I mean, like, and you would have to invite Sen. Lindsay Graham over the next time we watch Elle kick some serious legal $%#. Bad web access for the ACA is, like, totally lame but he like lames the express intent of our Founding Fathers' Constitutional "Appointment Power"… like over what, exactly? That the President refuses to honor the GOP's Unconstitutional Legislative Veto request to "defund" the ACA? I watched Legally Blonde and even Elle knows that, just as our rule of law PRECLUDES such State Action [see, e.g., INS v Chadha (1982) 462 U.S. 919], there is NO LEGAL AUTHORITY that gives ANY member of the Senate any self-perceived discretion to, like, just subvert the "Advice and Consent" function of the Senate over some fabricated [impassioned double syllable] Ben-ghazi red herring. Er, hearing. So, so much lamer than website troubs, btws." 




'The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ones.' - Whitney Griswold