CBS: Obama Rejects ‘Safe, Focus-Group Tested Message,’ Promotes Fatherhood

Still Shot of Barack Obama, June 16 On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Jeff Glor praised the courage of Barack Obama for promoting fatherhood during a speech on Father’s Day while running for president: "A job that usually requires safe, focus-group tested messages. This one seemed like anything but." Obama’s speech, in which the Illinois Senator declared that many fathers, particularly in the African-American community, are "M.I.A.," "AWOL," and "...acting like boys instead of men," was described by co-host Maggie Rodriguez as "A blunt Father's Day message from Barack Obama to African-American men."

On ABC’s "Good Morning America," correspondent Jake Tapper reported: "...it was a provocative speech, the first major party African-American presidential candidate in history took the opportunity of Father's Day to deliver some tough love to the African American community on the subject of the disintegration of the black family." The report also featured a clip of Obama’s speech that lasted a full 1 minute and 12 seconds.

On the "Early Show," Glor began his report by declaring: "If anyone was expecting a light and fluffy Father's Day message from Barack Obama, they got a big Sunday surprise." Glor went on to praise Obama’s daring speech: "In a sharp, challenging speech, Obama evoked his own absent father and took African-American men to task, saying more than half of all black children live in single parent households."

Here are the full transcripts of the CBS and ABC segments:

EARLY SHOW

7:00AM TEASER:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: A blunt Father's Day message from Barack Obama to African-American men.

BARACK OBAMA: Too many fathers are MIA. Too many fathers are AWOL.

7:07AM SEGMENT:

CHRIS WRAGGE: Democrat Barack Obama spent part of his Father's Day addressing a pressing social issue. "Early Show" National Correspondent Jeff Glor has that story.

JEFF GLOR: If anyone was expecting a light and fluffy Father's Day message from Barack Obama, they got a big Sunday surprise.

BARACK OBAMA: Too many fathers are M.I.A., to many fathers are AWOL. They've abandoned their responsibilities. They're acting like boys instead of men. You and I know this is true everywhere, but nowhere is it more true than in the African-American community.

GLOR: In a sharp, challenging speech, Obama evoked his own absent father and took African-American men to task, saying more than half of all black children live in single parent households. A number that's doubled since he was born. And he said more of those children wind up in trouble or in prison.

OBAMA: We need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn't just end at conception. How many are sitting, languishing in prison when they should be working or at least looking for a job.

GLOR: The same blunt talk has also come recently from another famous African-American, Bill Cosby. He spoke recently on "The Early Show":

BILL COSBY: We need the power of the parent going places and saying things and being on target with what they need.

GLOR: But this was not an entertainer, it was a man running for president. A job that usually requires safe, focus-group tested messages. This one seemed like anything but. Jeff Glor, CBS News, New York.

 

GOOD MORNING AMERICA

ROBIN ROBERTS: We're going to move on now to the race for '08. The presumptive presidential candidates spent the first full week of the general election clearly laying out their policy differences. But Senator Obama took the opportunity on Sunday to do something a little different for Father's Day. Senior political correspondent Jake Tapper is in Chicago with the latest on that. Good morning, Jake.

ABC GRAPHIC: "Any Fool Can Have a Child: Obama on a Father's Responsibility"

JAKE TAPPER: Good morning, Robin. Well, it was a provocative speech, the first major party African-American presidential candidate in history took the opportunity of Father's Day to deliver some tough love to the African American community on the subject of the disintegration of the black family. As the Chicago Sun Times puts it this morning, "Obama's message to fathers: Act like a man."

[Obama sound bite 1 minute 12 seconds]

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Too many fathers are MIA. Too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes. They've abandoned their responsibilities. They're acting like boys instead of men. You and I know this is true everywhere, but nowhere is it more true than in the African-American community. We can't simply write these problems off to past injustices. Those injustices are real. There's a reason why our families are in disrepair. And some of it has to do with a tragic history. But we can't keep on using that as an excuse. We need fathers to recognize their responsibility doesn't just end at conception. That doesn't just make you a father. What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child. Any fool can have a child. That doesn't make you a father. It's the courage to raise the child that makes you a father.

TAPPER: Part of what's going on here also, Robin, of course, is Obama trying to appeal to women voters, talking about how single mothers need the support of not only fathers but the government. John McCain over the weekend also had an event to appeal to women voters. He had an event with former supporters of Hillary Clinton. He said that at the end of his first term, there would be more women in higher levels of government than ever before.

ROBERTS: So, Jake, does he, McCain, expect to win over Clinton's female base or is he going for something else here?

TAPPER: Well, he's trying to win enough of them. You might remember, John Kerry won the women's vote in 2004 but he only won them by three percentage points. It's all about the margins. And there is an opening among women voters in the suburbs. So if he can just get enough of them, he could actually use that base to win the presidency.

ROBERTS: All right, Jake, I know it's going to be another full week for you. Thanks so much.

TAPPER: That's right. Thank you.

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