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Conservative uproar over Obama's savvy marketing to reach young ACA enrollees

Barack and Ellen
Barack and EllenEllen TV

Stepping away from the Ukraine crisis and other political issues for a few minutes, President Barack Obama appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show Thursday to promote the Affordable Care Act in its final weeks before the March 31 deadline.

The interview has already generated uproareous indignation from conservative pundits.

Breitbart.com launched a bristling report Friday morning about the DeGeneres interview on its blog accusing the president of “threatening” his daughters if they got tattoos, which was an absurd misrepresentation of the tongue-in-cheek deterrent suggested by Obama and his wife Michelle after they vowed to get the exact same tattoos in the same place so they could put a picture of them on social media.

The report accused Obama of being a “narcissist” who was seeking to be the “center of attention” for wanting to display a picture of the tattoos—which would never actually materialize, because it was a joke.

In true humorless conservative form Breitbart also misrepresented a snippet of the DeGeneres piece to suggest that Obama insulted her for breaking his Twitter record with the “selfie” she took at the Oscars last month by calling it a “cheap stunt”.

However, ribbing Ellen about getting millions of retweets the night she hosted the Academy Awards was delivered with dead-pan humor by the president.

“I thought it was a pretty cheap stunt myself, getting a bunch of celebrities in the background," said Obama, smiling. The “selfie” included Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad and Angelina, Bradley Cooper and others.

Breitbart is anticipated to be followed by all the same talking heads on Fox News and the usual conservative blogs, who denigrated the president for appearing on Funny or Die, Between the Ferns last week with Zach Galifianakis, calling it beneath the office of the president.

Jason Linkins noted in his Huffington Post piece about the show, “[but] from a political standpoint, any day you are having demonstrably more fun than your political opponents is an okay consolation prize. Bill O'Reilly, naturally, just adds a cherry to the sundae.”

O’Reilly used a pious Talking Points segment on "the dignity of the office,” to whine about Obama’s appearance with Galifianakis by proclaiming, “Lincoln wouldn’t do it”. Penning O’Reilly’s latest book, “Killing Lincoln” must have giving him special insights into what old Abe would have done in order to reach young Americans who don’t have healthcare coverage.

Every conservative with a Twitter account went on the attack against Obama’s healthcare blitz to reach people under 30.

Fox’s Laura Ingraham tweeted “Presiding over America’s decline is a knee-slapper”.

Nevertheless, the White House administration sees Obama’s previously taped interviews for such appearances as savvy marketing to reach an audience beyond those who actively watch standard news channels.

According to a report in the New York Daily, White House spokesman Jay Carney shrugged off suggestions that the “dignity” of the Presidency was damaged in any way, saying, “I think we made the right call here,” to reach the younger generation.

Carney then pointed out three main news reporters in his briefing, “Gone is the day when your broadcast, or yours, or yours can reach everybody we need to reach.”

Ben Labolt, Obama’s 2012 campaign spokesman agreed. “You'd need a time machine to find someone under the age of 30 watching the network news."

Although numerous other presidential hopefuls appeared on talk and entertainment shows, including Bill Clinton, who famously played the saxophone on Arsenio Hall—President Obama is the first to utilize entertainment platforms to broaden his audience. He did appear with Ellen as a candidate in 2007.

Wrapping up the 10 minute interview with DeGeneres, Obama responded to her question on whether or not he watched the political drama “House of Cards”. Yes, but he admitted it was far less boring than actual life in the White House.

As for Ellen’s well-known penchant for dancing on her show, Obama said, "There is not much dancing in the Situation Room."

At the taping of the show, Obamacare had almost 5 million enrollees, but they are hoping to come near 6 million by month's end, which is short of the original 7 million goal.

To watch a YouTube video of the Obama/DeGeneres interview click here.