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POLITICS: PennAve

Valerie Jarrett: 'Between Two Ferns' interview 'overwhelmingly successful'

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Health Care,PennAve,Meghashyam Mali,Valerie Jarrett,Zach Galifianakis

Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett said “wasn't hard to get” President Obama to take part in an interview on the mock online talk show “Between Two Ferns,” calling his segment promoting Obamacare “overwhelmingly successful.”

In an interview on "CBS This Morning" on Wednesday, Jarrett defended Obama's appearance on the show to pitch his health care law despite criticism that the unconventional forum was not appropriate for the president.

“It wasn’t hard to get him to participate,” said Jarrett. “And yes, so far it has been overwhelmingly successful.

“I was checking how many hits were on the site last night when I went to bed. It was 10 million, which I’m sure breaks all kinds of record,” she continued. “But more importantly than that, the traffic on our website has gone up 40 percent between yesterday and today, and that was the goal.”

The online episode of the show was broadcast Tuesday morning on the “Funny or Die” website and featured Obama and comedian Zach Galifianakis trading insults and the president responding to his offbeat and humorously misinformed questions.

But the interview was also a serious attempt by the administration to bolster enrollment in Obamacare's insurance exchanges ahead of a March 31 deadline.

The president made his pitch to young people, urging them to get covered.

“The goal is to help reach that young audience,” said Jarrett. “Zach and the guys at 'Funny or Die,' they have huge followings. Every young person I know watches their videos on YouTube.”

How do we reach them in a way that was amusing and entertaining and yet informative? And the fact that the website traffic has gone up is really an indication that it’s working,” she said.

Jarrett did not say how many of the visitors to healthcare.gov who arrived after watching the interview had signed up for coverage. But the White House yesterday said the video's website was the number one referral for healthcare.gov, with as many as 19,000 visitors heading to the enrollment website at midday.

The administration yesterday said that 4.2 million people had enrolled in Obamacare through the end of February, a mark well behind the end-of-March 7 million target.

Only a quarter of total sign-ups are young people, below the 40 percent target the administration identified at the start of the enrollment drive.

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