President Barack Obama's Ground Zero visit yesterday was "pitch perfect," according to former Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, despite reports that the commander-in-chief was rude and dismissive toward at least one American who lost a family member on Sept. 11, 2001.
On the May 6 edition of "Morning Joe," MSNBC anchor Willie Geist asked Meacham to characterize the significance of Obama's visit to the site where more than 3,000 people were slaughtered in an attack planned by deceased al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
"I thought it was pitch perfect in the sense of it was not about him," intoned Meacham, who now occasionally writes for Time magazine. "It was not the grand speech; it was him doing a kind of human interaction with the folks."
The Random House executive vice president's account of the memorial service conflicted with that of Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of the American Airlines flight that was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon, killing 184 people.
Burlingame told Fox News on Thursday that she asked Obama during a private meeting with families of victims if he would consider advising Attorney General Eric Holder to halt his investigation of CIA agents who employed enhanced interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists.
The president, said Burlingame, rejected the victim's request before "he turned around and walked away."
If Meacham was interested in providing dispassionate analysis, he would have noted that not all of the families thought Obama's "human interaction with the folks" was "pitch perfect."
A transcript of the relevant portions of the segment can be found below:
May 6, 2011
6:05 a.m. EDT
WILLIE GEIST: Jon what was the significance of, just theatrically, of the president yesterday visiting Ground Zero, visiting a firehouse, visiting a police precinct? What was the importance of that?
JON MEACHAM, Random House executive vice president: I thought it was pitch perfect in the sense of it was not about him; it was not the grand speech; it was him doing a kind of human interaction with the folks. And that was sort of his tone. He started out with "well, listen, I'm here to commemorate and to say thank you." And I think it was what a president should do in a way with what President Bush did after the attacks is what a president should do.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.