ABC Frets Over Richardson as 'Distraction' from Obama's Agenda

ABC anchor Dan Harris led Sunday night's World News with Commerce-nominee Bill Richardson's unexpected withdrawal, but framed the story around worries over Richardson becoming a “distraction” from Barack Obama's agenda. George Stephanopoulos, however, assured him it will only “be a blip.” Harris recited how “Obama is facing trouble abroad, trouble at home, and now trouble in his own cabinet.” So, “this is another major challenge” for the besieged Obama, Harris empathized, “at a time when the economy is reeling and war is raging between the Israelis and Palestinian militants.”

Following a report from Jake Tapper, Harris went to George Stephanopoulos: “Obama's coming into office with a very ambitious agenda, and if you add together what's going on with Richardson right now with the Blagojevich scandal, is that going to be a distraction in the key early days?” Stephanopoulos assured him, given all the issues on Obama's agenda including “the panoply of national security challenges he's going to face when he takes office,” that “this is likely to be a blip.”

It will be if journalists decide to make it one.

From the January 4 World News on ABC:
DAN HARRIS: Good evening. President-elect Obama is arriving in Washington tonight, where he will be inaugurated in 16 days. Mr. Obama is facing trouble abroad, trouble at home, and now trouble in his own cabinet. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson today abruptly withdrew his nomination to be Obama's Commerce Secretary because of a grand jury investigation into the awarding of a lucrative contract to a campaign donor. This is another major challenge for Obama, at a time when the economy is reeling and war is raging between the Israelis and Palestinian militants.

....

HARRIS: By all accounts, Obama's coming into office with a very ambitious agenda, and if you add together what's going on with Richardson right now with the Blagojevich scandal, is that going to be a distraction in the key early days?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't think so, Dan, for the reason you mentioned, because there's so many other challenges of such magnitude. President-elect Obama coming to the Hill tomorrow to talk about his economic plan, the largest one since the Great Depression; this ground war in Gaza; the panoply of national security challenges he's going to face when he takes office. I think that means that this is likely to be a blip, especially if they're able to come in with a replacement for Governor Richardson in the next week or so.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center