CBS Analyst Admits National Media Hoping O'Donnell Has 'Car Crash on Air'
Agreeing with Christine O'Donnell's decision not to do anymore national media interviews, CBS News political analyst John Dickerson acknowledged on Wednesday's Early Show that "the national media is not doing her any favors and, basically, a lot of people want her on so that she can have a car crash on air."
Dickerson went on to add that O'Donnell "needs to focus on Delaware....she's got to reach out to independents and get outside of the narrow conservative constituency she won." He then remarked: "...she's smart to keep to her knitting and she just has to hope that voters don't penalize her for trying to kind of stay away from the national media, which might look like staying away from any kind of difficult or probing questions." Co-host Harry Smith joked in reply: "Knit one, pearl two for John Dickerson this morning."
Both Smith and Dickerson joked about how "disappointed" they were that O'Donnell would not be making anymore national media appearances. Throughout the discussion, a headline on screen made reference to O'Donnell's witchcraft comments: "Bewitched?; O'Donnell Says No More National Interviews."
Prior to discussing O'Donnell, Smith asked Dickerson about Michelle Obama campaigning for Democrats: "How happy is the White House to be unleashing her during this campaign season?" Dickerson responded: "Well, they're happy to the extent that she's an asset and she plays well with important Democratic constituencies. With women, of course, but with African-Americans and with young voters." The headline on screen at that time: "Michelle to the Rescue? Dems Tab First Lady to Hit Campaign Trail."
Here is a full transcript of the September 22 segment:
HARRY SMITH: Also in Washington this morning, CBS News political analyst John Dickerson. John, good morning.
JOHN DICKERSON: Good morning, Harry.
SMITH: Let's talk about Larry Summers has decided to go back to Harvard, that's always been part of the plan, that he would go back so he could retain tenure there. At the end of the day, here's this guy who's this big economic adviser, does the White House look at him as an asset or a liability, if you'll excuse the phrase.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: White House Turmoil; Top Economic Advisor Leaves]
DICKERSON: I think they look at him as an asset, for sure. I mean, he has a reputation as being prickly. And there were certainly internal battles inside the White House, but the White House thinks that the program, particularly the stimulus package the President put forward that Larry Summers helped put together, and all these emergency responses to this economic downturn have been a success, maybe not the great success, certainly the public doesn't think so, but they think he did a good job.
SMITH: Interesting. Let us also talk, then, about the Bob Woodward book. Woodward, this great reporter from the Washington Post who has been reporting for decades and has phenomenal sources inside every White House, better than anybody's. Really reports sort of the dirty back-fighting that goes on among people at high levels of power. It's sort of like high school madness, almost. Should we be surprised that it took place even in a discussion as serious as the Afghanistan war?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: White House Turmoil, Explosive New Book Reveals Afghan Plan Rift]
DICKERSON: We shouldn't be surprised that there was a heated debate. But, what we maybe should be surprised a little bit about is the motivation-questioning of all the players. It wasn't just a debate over policy, but who was motivated to do what and who had what sort of other problems in this negotiation. The Afghanistan review is a scab on the administration that just keeps getting picked time and time again. And though the White House says these debates were well known. They're still being fought in this book a little bit and in the reaction to it, between the administration and the Pentagon.
SMITH: Yeah and the question always continues to come up, is this middle of the next summer date certain as a time to start withdrawing troops. So it kind of never, ever goes away. Let's change subjects to Michelle Obama, how happy is the White House to be unleashing her during this campaign season?
DICKERSON: Well, they're happy to the extent that she's an asset and she plays well with important Democratic constituencies. With women, of course, but with African-Americans and with young voters.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Michelle to the Rescue? Dems Tab First Lady to Hit Campaign Trail]
So they like having her out there. On the other hand, the fact that she has to go out there is a sign of the difficult position Democrats are in. But that, of course, doesn't surprise anybody. But, they hope to get whatever kind of boost they can out of her in what looks like a difficult year.
SMITH: And finally, last but not least on our list this morning, Christine O'Donnell has said she will not do any national interviews. I know that disappoints you, personally. But in real life, does this matter?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Bewitched?; O'Donnell Says No More National Interviews]
DICKERSON: Well, no, it doesn't matter, although, as you say, I'm disappointed and all of us should be. But, she's smart to do this. You know, the national media is not doing her any favors and, basically, a lot of people want her on so that she can have a car crash on air. She needs to focus on Delaware. She's got a tough run there, because she's got to reach out to independents and get outside of the narrow conservative constituency she won - that helped her win, I should say - the primary there. So she's smart to keep to her knitting and she just has to hope that voters don't penalize her for trying to kind of stay away from the national media, which might look like staying away from any kind of difficult or probing questions.
SMITH: Knit one, pearl two for John Dickerson this morning. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
DICKERSON: Thanks, Harry.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: And just in case, Miss O'Donnell, the offer stands.
-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.