The PJ Tatler

Obama's Celebrity Friends Prefer Social Media to Appearing with him in Selling Obamacare

President Obama’s A-List celebrity friends are finding something else to do rather than help him promote Obamacare.

“It seems that not even the president’s most fervent and committed supporters want to get too close to ObamaCare,” says The Hill:


Some of Obama’s most powerful allies — figures including Oprah Winfrey, Bruce Springsteen and Beyoncé — have stayed in the wings for the enrollment push.

Less than a year ago, Jennifer Hudson, Amy Poehler, and representatives for Winfrey and Alicia Keys were guests at the White House to discuss a strategy to promote the healthcare law.

Many expected this would lead to an advertising blitz full of famous faces. But, with limited exceptions, stars have largely failed to participate in a substantial ad campaign to promote Obama-Care’s new coverage options.

To date, the only noteworthy celebrities appearing on behalf of ObamaCare in national ads are retired NBA players Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning, who left professional basketball in 1991 and 2009, respectively.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sought to leverage the National Football League’s massive outreach, but that effort was scuttled by Republicans, who pressured the league to stay out of it.

Last fall, the administration promised to backload its advertisements to coincide with the wave of sign-ups expected in February and March. Instead, the administration is relying on social media to get the message out.

The White House told The Hill on Monday its intention was to enlist celebrities for a landmark social media campaign, and in this sphere at least, celebrities have eagerly shown their support for the law.

People magazine’s 2013 Sexiest Man Alive Adam Levine, artists ranging from Lady Gaga and John Legend to Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready and dozens of other celebrities have encouraged followers on Twitter and Instagram to #GetCovered or send an #ACAvalentine.

Others, like Hudson, have cut sketches for websites including Funny or Die, and in the case of Scarlett Johansson, submitted pro-ObamaCare messages through groups such as Planned Parenthood.

An administration official told The Hill that social media is one of the best ways to reach young people directly, and to expect those efforts to continue. The official noted that tens of thousands of people tweeted using the hash-tag “GetCovered” over Valentine’s Day weekend.


President Obama’s campaign-style events that plug Obamacare have featured mostly minor celebrities, compared to the star-studded events in 2008 when he was running for president. There is a level of toxicity associated with the law that might elude young people who are unaware of the world around them anyway, but wouldn’t escape older, wiser Americans who avoid signing up.

In short, the celebrities are voting with their feet in not loaning the president their star power to sell Obamacare. They may support him. They may support Obamacare. But it won’t be at the expense of their image with the vast majority of Americans.

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