Editor Tina Brown Admits: Obama 'Got the Best Press Known to Man'
Published: 2/5/2010 12:30 PM ET
Two prominent journalists appeared on Friday's Good Morning America and casually admitted that Barack Obama has received glowing coverage from the press. Former Vanity Fair and New Yorker editor Tina Brown announced, "No, [Obama] got the best press known to man. Let's face it."
Howard Kurtz, host of Reliable Sources on CNN and a Washington Post columnist, corrected, "In the history of civilization." The liberal Brown quickly agreed, "In the history of civilization, incredible." Kurtz and Brown appeared with Meghan McCain to discuss the latest political developments with GMA host George Stephanopoulos.
McCain, a moderate Republican, offered her own denouncement of liberal bias. Discussing the John Edwards sex scandal and how journalists ignored it during the 2008 campaign, she complained, "Where was the press when this was going on? Who was reporting on this? And when you find out later on that many people in the press did know about the affair going on, it could have changed the course of the election."
John McCain's daughter continued, "Why isn't the press doing their jobs? What are these secrets?" This prompted Kurtz into an attempted defense of his profession: "We often hear rumors about politicians. But there's often a question about whether you publish those rumors because they may not be true."
McCain also dismissed the notion, promoted by Kurtz, that liberal comedian Jon Stewart has turned against the President. She mocked, "For every one Obama comedy sketch The Daily Show does, they do about 100 for every Republican. So, I don't think anybody needs to worry about Jon Stewart voting Republican anytime soon."
A partial transcript of the February 5 segment, which aired at 8:05am EST, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's start with politics. President Obama, facing some disaffection in his base. And one of the way to get at is to watch this duel between Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart this week. Turned out to be a friendlier duel then I was expecting. But, at one point, Bill O'Reilly does ask Stewart what he thinks about President Obama. Take a look.-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.
BILL O'REILLY: How is president Obama doing so far?
JON STEWART: Uh, I'm torn. For me, I can't tell if I feel like he's a Jedi master, playing chess on a three-level board way ahead of us. Or if this is kicking his [bleep].
HOWARD KURTZ: Well, because he does lean to the left. Look, this is not LBJ losing Walter Cronkite over Vietnam. But it's important, George, because a late night comedian's barbs can mar a President's image. You remember the relentless ridiculing of Bill Clinton as a skirt-chaser. And, also, I think that Jon Stewart is a cultural bellwether. And he does reflect the disillusionment of very many liberal commentators who had given their hearts to Obama and now are having second thoughts.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Tina, for the longest time, comedians couldn't find the funny in Barack Obama.
TINA BROWN: No, he got the best press known to man. Let's face it.
KURTZ: In the history of civilization.
BROWN: In the history of civilization, incredible. I mean, the Nobel prize, in a way, sort of reflected that. Because all that voting was happening just when he was, you know, all of that was at its climax. The problem for Obama is, that he basically campaigned for 14 months on a completely different America, really. It was all about, "I'm not Bush. I'm going to bring everyone together. I'm going to close Guantanamo Bay. I'm going to give you health care." But the point that he's elected, the curtain comes down. America is a gridlocked, broke place.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And he falls to Earth.
MEGHAN MCCAIN: Yeah, I don't think anybody has anything to worry about. For every one Obama comedy sketch The Daily Show does, they do about 100 for every Republican. So, I don't think anybody needs to worry about Jon Stewart voting Republican anytime soon. So, I think it's interesting, but-
BROWN: Where are they going to go, the left? Where , actually, are the left going to go? They may be disaffected.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's turn to the revenged of the wronged, let's call it. We have Andrew Young come out this week. Also, jenny Sanford. You saw Barbara Walters earlier. And really remarkable, Tina Brown, the details in these books. And they lead to a couple of different questions. One that you write about in when you learn this much about John Edwards, you wonder how did he get so far? And then when you learn all this about the jenny Sanford marriage, why did she stay so long with this guy?
BROWN: Well, I have to say I'm longing for a book from one of these wives saying, "This is a book about revenge. This is a book about payback," instead of the self righteous, why I did it. The incredible thing you say is the press that John Edwards got. It turns out from reading this book. And I do believe it in that sense- Obviously every book exaggerates.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He gets the basic story right.
BROWN: But he hardly seems to have an authentic mode in his body. This is a guy who had his Armani labels cut out of his suits. Who showed up in a beat-up truck, rather than have the expensive cars in his own garages. Who never read his briefing books. You know? Who was, of course, you know, defrauding everybody in this affair to Rielle Hunter. And expecting everyone to be his beard, tormenting his wife with lies. I mean, the man was practically a snake of all-time. And he got great press. This is a press story, as well. Remember who broke this story of the Rielle hunter affair. The National Enquirer. Now up for a Pulitzer Prize.
KURTZ: And who should say the National Enquirer shouldn't get a Pulitzer Prize? The rest of the mainstream media stayed away from this. I have more sympathy for Jenny Sanford, although it turns out she did enable this for some time, as did Elizabeth Edwards. But Andrew Young. I mean, come on. This is a guy who was at the heart of the cover-up, who went along with this cockamamie scheme to say that he was the father of the baby. And now he wants to write a book and say that he was the father. And get revenge, as you say. And I have a little bit of question about the credibility. I mean, you just discovered this alleged sex tape in the trash can?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I think he got some of the details wrong. But the basic story right. Meghan, you lived through a lot of this. So, what's your reaction?
MCCAIN: Yes, I did. I think, much like you guys- Where was the press when this was going on? Who was reporting on this? And when you find out later on that many people in the press did know about the affair going on, it could have changed the course of the election. Talk to Hillary Clinton about how she feels. Why isn't the press doing their jobs? What are these secrets?
KURTZ: But, could the press far go too far in chasing rumors about a politician, whether it's your father or anybody else, when they don't have the evidence?
MCCAIN: I don't consider myself a member of the press. I'm a columnist. So, I don't know.
KURTZ: Well, tell us what you think about, you know- In other words, yes. We often hear rumors about politicians. But there's often a question about whether you publish those rumors because they may not be true.
MCCAIN: I just think it's fascinating that it took a National Enquirer person to do it.