Bozell Column: No 'Playing Gotcha' With Obama

Did you see that hard-hitting report on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, the one that charged that one of our nation's most famous leaders and role models is a shameless liar, a ruthless intimidator and even “incinerator” of enemies, a man who operates like the Mafia?

No, that wasn’t the interview with Barack Obama, alongside Hillary Clinton. It was an interview later in the same show about the drug-enhanced bicyclist Lance Armstrong. That’s CBS News for you – a guy who pedals a bike through France is hammered as if he is the most powerful man in the world, while the most powerful man is treated like a lovable celebrity -- because that is precisely how they feel.

The agenda of  “60 Minutes” should remind viewers that CBS CEO Les Moonves attended a glitzy Obama/DNC fundraiser in Beverly Hills last June, where he admitted the obvious: “Ultimately, journalism has changed … partisanship is very much a part of journalism now."

Steve Kroft, who’s been minding the Batcave as Obama’s journalistic butler on “60 Minutes” for six years now, was also perfectly obvious about his servility, both during the recorded Obama-and-Hillary interview and in a later chat with CNN. He began his interview on CBS by telling the audience that this segment was Obama’s idea. One wonders if Obama has something like a bell or a dog whistle for Kroft. Since when do politicians set segments for "hard-hitting" "60-Minutes"?

Kroft told CNN’s Piers Morgan that Obama likes the show because it’s a long-form interview, and it’s highly rated. But he also admitted “I think he knows that we're not going to play gotcha with him, that we're not going to go out of our way to make him look bad or stupid.”

Morgan avoided the obvious followup question. “60 Minutes” used to be synonymous with “gotcha,” and it certainly was when it broke the Abu Ghraib story to hurt Bush in 2004, and when Dan Rather flaunted fake Texas Air National Guard documents to hurt Bush months later.  In the 2008 election cycle, “60 Minutes” asked John McCain why he would “let the Wall Street executives sail away on their yachts and leave this [bailout] on the American taxpayer?" They hammered Romney about avoiding military service – and his five sons avoiding military service. Kroft has never asked Obama about his failure to serve in the military, and he certainly never asked about whether he had premarital sex with his wife – which Mike Wallace threw at Romney.

But this was Barack & Hillary Show, and focused on that wondrous relationship. “How would you characterize your relationship right now?” He asked Hillary: “What did he promise you? And has he kept the promises?” He asked the president: “Has she had much influence in this administration?” He asked them both: “What do you think the biggest success has been, foreign policy success, of the first term?”

When Kroft turned to “specifics” on Benghazi, he wanted to know about her testimony before the House and Senate. “You had a very long day. Also, how is your health?” After setting that sympathetic tone, he asked one specific question. “Do you feel guilty in any way, at a personal level? Do you blame yourself that you didn’t know or that you should have known?”

Which official who lost a public servant in a terrorist attack would not express regret, that they wish they could have done something more to prevent it? It was a softball that opened the door for Hillary to profess it was “a great personal loss,” but not really her fault.

During the hearings Team Obama was sharply criticized for blatantly lying and blaming the Benghazi attacks on a video, spurring Hillary to yell at Sen. Ron Johnson, “What difference does it make?” It begged for the famed Mike Wallace incredulity thrust: "What difference did it make?!"

Nothing. Apparently Hillary's flagrant non-answer was somehow a great answer. She’s a Clinton. Lying always gets them out of a jam because the compliant liberal media will never call them out. To borrow a phrase from Bill, “maintaining their political viability within the system” is always their first priority. The same can be said for their media enablers.

At the end of the Lance Armstrong-bashing segment, his accuser, Trevor Tygart of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, suggested this was Armstrong’s plan: “Cheat your way to the top. and if you get too big and too popular and too powerful, if you do it that well, you'll never be held accountable.”

Obama’s reliance on the performance-enhancing media is like doping in politics. Kroft  & Co. helped Obama cheat his way to the top, and at the pinnacle of power, he is never held accountable. The interview should have concluded, "I am Barack Obama and I approve this message."

Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell is the Founder and President of the Media Research Center