NBC's Todd and CBS's Reid Fret Over 'Stress' of Presidency on Obama

NBC's Chuck Todd and CBS's Chip Reid both concluded their interviews with President Obama conducted in Beijing by worrying about the “stress” of his job. “He laughed off the speculation about his reported weight loss,” Todd relayed on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, “but admitted the burden of the office does weigh on him.” The MSNBC.com online video of the entire interview disclosed Todd's obsequious inquiry:
I've had a couple people ask me this at NBC, are you losing weight, do you feel the stress? Where is this coming from? Or at the one-year point, do you feel like, “Oh my God, I look in the mirror, boy, they're right, this job does age you?”
Echoing the same concern, on the CBS Evening News Chip Reid related: “Asked about the stress of the job, the President denied reports that he's skipping meals and losing weight, but he admitted it's taking a toll.” As viewers heard Obama's reply -- “You have a convergence of factors that have made this a difficult year not so much for me but for the American people. Absolutely that weighs on me” -- CBS displayed a photo of a solemn Obama, head bowed, gazing out of an Oval Office window.

(On Wednesday's Early Show, Reid set up the same clip from Obama: “The President talked movingly about the toll his job is taking on him.”)

Obama wrapped up his answer to Reid: “We'd like to land some of these big planes right now. We've got a lot of traffic circling in the air and the runway's a little congested.” Reid then helpfully explained: “Those big planes, as he calls them, are health care reform, economic recovery, and his Afghanistan plan and he sounded more than a little impatient about getting them all safely on the ground soon.”

From the ends of the interview excerpts aired on the November 18 newscasts:

NBC Nightly News:
CHUCK TODD: He laughed off the speculation about his reported weight loss, but admitted the burden of the office does weigh on him.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My weight fluctuates about five pounds, it has for the last 30 years. It's unchanging. I still wear the same, some of the same stuff I did when I got married 17 years ago. This has been an extraordinary year, less for me than for the American people. Two wars, worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. I would be lying if I said that those aren't some weighty questions that I carry around on my shoulders every day.
CBS Evening News:
CHIP REID: Asked about the stress of the job, the President denied reports that he's skipping meals and losing weight, but he admitted it's taking a toll.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My hair is getting gray and it is the butt of a lot of jokes. You have a convergence of factors that have made this a difficult year not so much for me but for the American people. Absolutely that weighs on me. Whenever I visit Walter Reed or other military hospitals I see the incredible sacrifices that our young men and women are making. That is a heavy, heavy weight. But it's an extraordinary privilege as well. I wouldn't trade my job for anything. The way we describe it in the White House is we'd like to land some of these big planes right now. We've got a lot of traffic circling in the air and the runway's a little congested.

REID: Those big planes, as he calls them, are health care reform, economic recovery, and his Afghanistan plan and he sounded more than a little impatient about getting them all safely on the ground soon. Chip Reid, CBS News, Seoul, South Korea.
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