CBS ‘Early Show’ Fawns Over Obama, Slams Geraldine Ferraro

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterFollowing the same pattern as ABC’s "Good Morning America" Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" featured a glowing interview with Barack Obama by co-host Harry Smith, while co-host Russ Mitchell interrogated Clinton supporter Geraldine Ferraro for recent comments about Obama’s candidacy: "Do you really think that Barack Obama has been so successful in this campaign because he's a black man?"

When Ferraro tried to respond and put her comments in context, Mitchell abruptly interrupted:

FERRARO: Well, let me take -- put this in context. Number one, what they're using this as a political thing to attack Hillary. I am not involved in the Hillary Clinton campaign, I was out on a paid speech which had been booked a year and a half ahead of time --

MITCHELL: I understand that, not a lot of time Congresswoman.

FERRARO: That's it -- okay -- but let me just --

MITCHELL: Why did you make these comments and do you really think that he's ahead because he's black?

Meanwhile, earlier in the broadcast Harry Smith asked Obama about Ferraro’s comments: "Senator, Hillary Clinton's campaign has basically said, 'well, we disagree with what Geraldine Ferraro has said.' Is it time that they, if you excuse my expression, denounce what she said?"

In the interview with Ferraro, Mitchell played a clip of Hillary Clinton referring to Ferraro as "overzealous" and asked:

MITCHELL: Congresswoman, you're wearing a Hillary button, you're on her finance committee. She just called you overzealous. Are you potentially damaging her campaign by continuing to be associated with it?

FERRARO: Only if the press spins this as something coming out with Hillary --

MITCHELL: You keep blaming the press --

FERRARO: No, I do --

MITCHELL: Your candidate just said overzealous. Do you think you're hurting the campaign?

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterWith Obama, Smith wondered if it was time for Hillary to quit: "I spoke to Senator Obama after his win in Mississippi, and asked if he would call for Senator Clinton to get out of the race...If you had this thing locked up tonight, would Hillary Clinton be on your short list?"

Here is the full transcript of both segments:

7:00AM TEASER:

HARRY SMITH: And lots of talk about race in the Democratic race. Obama wins with a huge black vote in Mississippi. While a Clinton supporter says it's his race that made him a factor.

7:01AM TEASE:

SMITH: And Barack Obama had a big win last night in Mississippi. That was not surprising, but remarks by former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro are, about the role of Obama's race in the race. We're going to have a conversation with her this morning as well.

7:06AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Now to the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Barack Obama won the Mississippi primary yesterday. He got 61% of the vote, compared to 37% for Hillary Clinton. Here's the latest CBS News delegate count. Out of 2,025 needed, Obama has 1,591. Senator Clinton 1,471. I spoke to Senator Obama after his win in Mississippi, and asked if he would call for Senator Clinton to get out of the race.

BARACK OBAMA: Well, you know, I really think it's up to her, and I think that it's important from my perspective to continue to make my case to the American people. I'm not just interested in winning the nomination. I'm interested in winning the general election.

SMITH: The last couple of days have been interesting. Not the least of which reason are some of the comments of Geraldine Ferraro. I'm going to play something right now. We can both take a listen, and then I'd like to get your response. Let's take a listen.

GERALDINE FERRARO: If Barack Obama were a white man, would we be talking about this as a potential real problem for Hillary? If he were a woman of any color, would he be in this position? Absolutely not.

SMITH: What is your response?

OBAMA: Well, you know, Geraldine Ferraro was, I think, a trail blazer, and, you know, I respect her for that. You know obviously, I strongly disagree with her comments. I think If you think about the history of this country, the notion that being a black American named Barack Obama paves the way for the presidency doesn't, I think, ring -- ring true with most Americans, but --

SMITH: Senator, Senator --

OBAMA: Part of what --

SMITH: Senator, Hillary Clinton's campaign has basically said, 'well, we disagree with what Geraldine Ferraro has said.' Is it time that they, if you excuse my expression, denounce what she said?

OBAMA: Well, you know, what I think is that we've been trying to promote a new kind of politics that's not about the old divisions. I don't think that Geraldine Ferraro's comments contribute to that, and to the extent that Senator Clinton's campaign doesn't distance itself from that, I think, it's a perpetuation of the same divisive politics that has done us so much damage and prevents us from solving problems like health care and making college more affordable that people are really looking for answers.

SMITH: Well, let me ask you this question. How's that whole dream ticket thing going?

OBAMA: Well, I was very clear this week that, you know, I'm running for the presidency of the United States of America.

SMITH: I heard.

OBAMA: And I wouldn't be running if I didn't think that I was most capable of leading the country into a new direction and a better future.

SMITH: Okay. Here's the deal. If you had this thing locked up tonight, would Hillary Clinton be on your short list?

OBAMA: Well, yeah, I think Senator Clinton is a very able and smart and tough person, and so the -- I think she'd be on anybody's short list to consider because she's obviously got a terrific constituency and has proven to be a terrific and tenacious campaigner.

SMITH: And, finally, Governor Eliot Spitzer, should he resign?

OBAMA: You know, I will leave that up to Governor Spitzer, his family, and the people of New York. Obviously, it's a heartbreaking story, and I feel for the family and the children, and hopefully they can heal as a family. That is the human component of the tragedy. I think the politics of it are up to the people of New York.

SMITH: There you go. Senator, we thank you very much. Congratulations on the victory. We will see you down the road.

OBAMA: Thank you so much.

SMITH: And we'll hear from Geraldine Ferraro a little bit later on in this broadcast.

 

8:31AM SEGMENT:

RUSS MITCHELL: Before Hillary Clinton, another woman made history in presidential politics. Geraldine Ferraro, who was a member of Congress from New York, was the Democratic candidate for vice president when Walter Mondale ran back in 1984. She is now back in the news for controversial comments she made about Barack Obama.

GERALDINE FERRARO: If Barack Obama were a white man would we be talking about this as a potential real problem for Hillary? If he were a woman of any color, would he be in this position? Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

MITCHELL: Obama responded to Ferraro's comments in an interview with Harry Smith broadcast this morning.

BARACK OBAMA: To the extent that Senator Clinton's campaign doesn't distance itself from that, I think it's a perpetuation of the same divisive politics that has done us so much damage.

MITCHELL: And Geraldine Ferraro joins us this morning, Congresswoman good to see you, thanks for coming in.

FERRARO: Thank you, I'm delighted to be here.

MITCHELL: We know what you said, but let's put it on the table. Do you really think that Barack Obama has been so successful in this campaign because he's a black man?

FERRARO: I think it's part of it, and the thing about it is -- first of all, let me start with anybody thinks that's racist, I'm sorry. And I'm a little bit hurt because I've had a career of 40 years of fighting discrimination. Not only gender, but race, disability, the elderly.

MITCHELL: Right, right, but you got it on tape, so --

FERRARO: I've done that whole thing. But let me take --

MITCHELL: So why do you think that's the case?

FERRARO: Well, let me take -- put this in context. Number one, what they're using this as a political thing to attack Hillary. I am not involved in the Hillary Clinton campaign, I was out on a paid speech which had been booked a year and a half ahead of time --

MITCHELL: I understand that, not a lot of time Congresswoman.

FERRARO: That's it -- okay -- but let me just --

MITCHELL: Why did you make these comments and do you really think that he's ahead because he's black?

FERRARO: It was in response to a question that -- and I started off with if you going back to the 84' campaign, which you showed, it was historic, and I just talked about the historic candidacy of both Hillary and Barack Obama comparing mine. And I started off the response to the question with if you look at my campaign in 1984, if my name were Gerade Ferraro instead of Geraldine Ferraro, I would have never gotten the nomination, and the reason was Walter Mondale wanted to break down doors. He wanted to create an historic candidacy, It had nothing to do with my competency. I thought I could do the job of vice president. I was sure I could do it.

MITCHELL: So he's getting a lot of attention because he's black because it's new.

FERRARO: No, what it is, it's a historic candidacy. I should think he would celebrate the fact that black voters in this country are so excited that this is a ground breaking thing that he would not -- it wasn't a racist comment. It was a comment, a statement of fact, and for the campaign to take that and spin it and attack Hillary and me as being racist, I have to tell you, it is just appalling.

MITCHELL: If you could make those comments again and say them differently, would you?

FERRARO: I said them -- what happened was the press didn't report it fully. It's the same thing. No, I wouldn't say them -- I would ask that the press report the whole thing.

MITCHELL: Hillary Clinton was not happy about your comments.

FERRARO: Nobody is.

MITCHELL: Let's look at what she had to say.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I said earlier today in Harrisburg that I obviously disagree and reject the comments, and Senator Obama and I have both said on several occasions that we want this campaign to be about the issues. The differences between us, certainly, because that's fair game. Draw our differences and experience and qualifications and our views on very important matters facing the country, but we don't want it to stray into extraneous territory, and we have all -- we both have supporters and staff who get overzealous, and, you know, we want to keep this on the real issues that matter to the voters of Pennsylvania.

MITCHELL: Congresswoman, you're wearing a Hillary button, you're on her finance committee. She just called you overzealous. Are you potentially damaging her campaign by continuing to be associated with it?

FERRARO: Only if the press spins this as something coming out with Hillary --

MITCHELL: You keep blaming the press --

FERRARO: No, I do --

MITCHELL: Your candidate just said overzealous. Do you think you're hurting the campaign?

FERRARO: Let me just -- let me just say she has been pressed into position by Barack Obama to respond to this. I have to tell you, I'm outraged that Axelrod, David Axelrod, his campaign manager, has chose to spin this as a racist comment. He does it every time anybody makes a comment about race who's white. He did it with Bill Clinton, he was successful. He did it with Ed Rendell, he was less successful. He's certainly not going to be successful with me. He should have called me up because I'm one of those people he asked to help Freddy Ferrer, when Freddy was running, the first Spanish person here, first black person running in New York State for governor, Carl McCall. He's called me up. He knows I'm not racist. He could have said 'Gerry what did you say,' and he didn't do it.

MITCHELL: You will continue being -- you'll continue being on the finance committee of Hillary's campaign?

FERRARO: That's not a big -- there are hundreds of thousands of people on finance committees --

MITCHELL: Will Geraldine Ferraro be on the campaign?

FERRARO: If they want me off, I'll take off, but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop raising money. This is going to give me incentive to go out and raise twice as much.

MITCHELL: Okay. Alright, Geraldine Ferraro. Thank you so much for coming in. We appreciate it.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC