CBS’s Chen: Leave Caroline Kennedy Alone, Criticism ‘Unfair’

Julie Chen and Harry Smith, CBS On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen came to the defense of would-be New York Senator Caroline Kennedy, who has faced criticism for her lack of experience: "This is so unfair. I mean, look, the system is set up the way it's set up and Governor Paterson decides and that's it. Leave her alone, everyone." That comment followed a report by correspondent Meg Oliver, in which Kennedy avoided tough questions from the press: "She quickly got a taste of the pressure that comes with seeking a high-profile political office...questions mostly went unanswered."

Chen was not so quick to defend Sarah Palin from critics during the campaign. When Tina Fey began impersonating Palin on Saturday Night Live in September, Chen remarked: "Tina Fey has just so much material to work with, this is like, probably a dream come true for her." Earlier in September, Chen wondered about Palin’s foreign policy experience: "The education of Sarah Palin. The Alaska governor has her first meetings with world leaders as they gather at the U.N. How will she do?"

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:05AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: Well, it is official, Caroline Kennedy wants to succeed Hillary Clinton in the Senate. She launched her quest yesterday with a highly anticipated visit to upstate New York. CBS News correspondent Meg Oliver reports.

MEG OLIVER: Kennedy's non-campaign campaigning included three upstate New York stops in Syracuse.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Welcome to Rochester.

OLIVER: Rochester and Buffalo.

CAROLINE KENNEDY: How are you doing?

OLIVER: And she finally said it in public. She would like to succeed Hillary Clinton as the junior Senator from New York.

CAROLINE KENNEDY: Well, I just wanted to say that, as some of you may have heard, I've told Governor Paterson that I'd be honored to be considered for the position of United States Senator.

OLIVER: But she quickly got a taste of the pressure that comes with seeking a high-profile political office.

KENNEDY: The Governor has laid out a process and I am proud to be in that process.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What can you say to New Yorkers that says that you're qualified?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN B: Are you ready for this, Mrs. Kennedy? You're not going to answer questions at all?

OLIVER: So while the goal was to seek support from local elected officials and political leaders-

BYRON BROWN [BUFFALO MAYOR]: I look forward to us continuing our dialogue.

KENNEDY: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN C: No, you speak first.

KENNEDY: No, I want to answer questions.

OLIVER: But questions mostly went unanswered.

MAN C: What makes you think you can represent upstate?

KENNEDY: Well, as I -- first of all, this was a great visit and I've already learned a lot and I would want to come back-

MAN C: What did you learn?

KENNEDY: -were I lucky enough to be chosen, but it is a process.

OLIVER: Ultimately it's up to New York's Governor to decide who will be appointed to the Senate seat. Meg Oliver, CBS News, New York.

HARRY SMITH: And it may not be all that simple. It's very interesting. There's a kind of a backlash that's starting to develop for people saying, 'oh, so these seats just go to the elites?' So there's a very interesting to and fro.

CHEN: This is so unfair. I mean, look, the system is set up the way it's set up and Governor Paterson decides and that's it. Leave her alone, everyone.

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