Politico Misrepresents Exchange Between Kroft and Obama in 60 Minutes Interview

Let me be the first to say that Craig Gordon at Politico is fucking out of his mind here:

President Barack Obama said he believes the global financial system remains at risk of implosion with the failure of Citigroup or AIG, touching off “an even more destructive recession and potentially depression.”

His remarks came in a “60 Minutes” interview in which he was pressed by an incredulous Steve Kroft for laughing and chuckling several times while discussing the perilous state of the world’s economy.

“You’re sitting here. And you’re— you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, ‘I mean, he’s sitting there just making jokes about money—’ How do you deal with— I mean: explain. . .” Kroft asks at one point.

Either Gordon did not watch the interview, or he did and is intentionally misrepresenting the tenor both of Pres. Obama’s manner and Steve Kroft’s question. And I don’t know which would be worse, quite frankly.

The transcript is not going to help here. You have to watch the video, because this is a matter of tone of voice and body language as much as words. Steve Kroft’s voice was not “incredulous” at all. He asked the question because he wanted a response to a question he knew would be asked — by Obama’s critics if no one else. He did not ask Obama why he was laughing — he asked him if he thought others would, and he asked him to explain “the mood in your laughter.” And then he added, “Are you punch drunk”? If anything, Kroft’s voice sounded slightly mocking as he imitated the voice of an anonymous listener asking why Obama was joking about such serious things.

Steve Kroft has been covering Barack Obama since he first announced his plans to run for the presidency — I’m sure he has some understanding of the guy by now. It’s quite possible that he asked the question at least in part to give Obama a chance to respond to a moment in the interview that he knew others would jump on, eagerly. Steve Kroft might know Obama well enough to know that he has a great sense of humor and uses it to defuse stressful situations, while also knowing that not everyone out there would understand. This is what good reporters do, you know — anticipate questions they know will come up, and ask them.

Gordon puts the worst possible spin on the exchange, and makes it sound like (a) Obama was insensitively trivializing an important issue and (b) Steve Kroft was shocked, and it’s simply not possible to watch those moments on the video with a well-intentioned, fair cast of mind, and reach that conclusion.

9 Responses to “Politico Misrepresents Exchange Between Kroft and Obama in 60 Minutes Interview”

  1. Deep Blue says:

    “Kroft’s voice sounded slightly mocking as he imitated the voice of an anonymous listener ”

    I agree Kroft’s voice sounded mocking, but I couldn’t determine who he was intending to mock and in what way. Maybe Kroft didn’t prepare well for the interview. This is another good example of why media questions to the POTUS ought to be submitted in writing a day before cameras are brought in. I’m not advocating censorship, but if both sides agree on the questions a day ahead of time, then the reporter can study the questions ahead of time and better stay focused when the camera is on. The focus should never be on the reporter. What difference should it make even if Kroft was incredulous? He’s trivial compared to the nation’s problems.

  2. Drudge/Politico.com is a Republican propaganda outlet. Of course Craig Gordon was “intentionally misrepresenting” the interview to negatively reflect on the Democratic leader. That’s his job. That’s Politico.com’s job.

    As a double bonus, can you imagine the righty’s faux rage had someone asked a Republican President “are you punch drunk?” They’d be seeing red and be spitting fire at this point.

  3. dualdiagnosis says:

    Kroft- “Are you punch drunk”?

    Obama- “LOL! No, I’m a Special Olympian”

  4. Deep Blue, you ARE advocating censorship. You’re granting a government the right to not submit to certain questions. It censors what the public can ask the public servant. It’s wrong when right wingers do it, it’s wrong when Deep Blue people do it.

    Any reporter that offers their questions in writing before hand is a softball journalist who could easily be accused of throwing the “game,” except that holding the citizen’s elected Executive accountable is NOT a game.

    The notion that Republican President Bush could have (and by some reports did) pre-screen questions from reporters kind of misses the crucial idea of an independent press holding the government accountable. Which, thinking about it now, does kind of sound like most of the last eight years.

    Hardball journalism might not be pretty, but neither is Democracy. It’s still, as has been said, better than the alternatives.

  5. Tim3tester says:

    This is another good example of why media questions to the POTUS ought to be submitted in writing a day before cameras are brought in.

    You people are precious. It’s important for the Teleprompter in chief you mean. Too funny.

  6. Obama has repeatedly had thoughtful, unprompted, long conversations without knowing any of the questions in advance and has always managed to reply knowledgeably and positively throughout. He did it with Kroft, on Leno’s show, and even with right wing extremist Murdoch’s thug O’Reilly.

    On the other hand, the right wing’s #2 couldn’t even deal with softball questions from Katie Couric and their #1 actually called a questioner a “little jerk.”

    The Drudge trolls are really reaching for straws trying to kick up dust with unbelievably trivial nonsense.

  7. Fred says:

    The video is on youtube.com and it’s absolutely horrifying to see Obama laughing like that while millions lost their homes, their life savings and he put us in debt for TRILLIONS. Just because obamtrons come crawling out all over the internet and deny Obama’s laughing about the auto bailouts, derivatives and the economy, doesn’t mean that it didnt’ happen, because it did. But I am sure they will say he had just taken some ‘cold’ medicine…or something.

  8. “Fred,” The last three Republican Presidents increased the debt by over $8 TRILLION dollars.

    Republican President Bush indebted the country by nearly $5 TRILLION dollars, and counting.

    The final debt added under President Bush will be considerably higher after including interest payments, amongst other things. By one economist’s estimate REPUBLICAN BUSH’S INDEBTED AMERICA BY OVER $10 TRILLION DOLLARS.

    Right wingers are living in a fantasy world that apparently doesn’t include “math” or “basic listening comprehension.”

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