CBS’s Kroft Denies ‘Cheerleading’ for Obama in Fawning Documentary

Steve Kroft, FNC Appearing on Wednesday’s O’Reilly Factor on FNC, CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft discussed his campaign interviews with Barack Obama that have been spliced together to create a CBS News DVD, ‘Obama: All Access,’: "Well, they were dying to have somebody come out, especially '60 Minutes,' very early on to kind of explain their campaign...we developed a nice rapport."

Host Bill O’Reilly asked Kroft about the documentary: "...what does it say to people other than ‘go, go Obama?’" Kroft replied: "It's an historical document. And I think we'll probably sell a lot of copies to libraries and things like that. Maybe to some -- maybe to some Republican political consultants." O’Reilly followed up: "Is there cheerleading in it?" Kroft responded: "No, I don't think so. It's -- we've taken the interviews and it is a straight narrative of the campaign."

However, during the CBS News documentary aired on Sunday, December 28, 2008 and re-aired this Sunday, Kroft pulled out the pom-poms: "...on the campus of George Mason University in the Virginia suburbs, where Obama held his first campaign rally, just two weeks after establishing an exploratory presidential committee...It was our first exposure to what came to be known as 'Obama-mania.' You sensed immediately that something unusual was going on, something rarely seen in American politics... 5,000 students had turned out to see him...he urged his young audience to cast aside its cynicism of politics and engage the system, evoking the words of Martin Luther King."

Kroft continued to praise Obama’s celebrity status throughout the broadcast: "He had yet to declare his candidacy, but he was already the biggest political celebrity in America. Propelled by the media hunger for a fresh face and a good story, he had graced the covers of 'Time' and 'Newsweek,' been endorsed by Oprah, and the campaign itself seemed to have morphed out of his latest book tour."

When describing Obama’s Democratic convention speech, Kroft declared: "Obama's acceptance speech attracted 84,000 people to Invesco Field in Denver, and another 40 million to their television sets all across America, more people than watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics." Kroft managed to forget that John McCain’s speech at the Republican convention a week later surpassed the ratings Obama’s speech recieved.

On March 3, 2008 Kroft decried a ‘malicious campaign' against Obama.

On November 9, 2008 Kroft praised ‘Obama’s inner circle’ of campaign staffers.

Here are relevant excerpts of the Obama documentary aired on CBS:

7:00PM TEASE:

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Obama! Obama! Obama!

STEVE KROFT: He generated more excitement than any candidate in modern time.

BARACK OBAMA: You guys are too fired up!

KROFT: This is where you and Michelle first lived?

OBAMA: That's right. We lived on the second floor.

KROFT: But when we went to Illinois nearly two years ago to do our first story on Barack Obama, it wasn't because we thought he was going to be elected president. No one thought that. But he was becoming a political phenomenon.

OBAMA: You have your husband, and then there's this character-

MICHELLE OBAMA: Barack Obama.

KROFT: Tonight, a unique behind-the-scenes look at Barack Obama's road to the White House. You think the country's ready for a black president?

OBAMA: Yes.

KROFT: From the earliest days, when he first announced his candidacy in Springfield, Illinois-

OBAMA: Let us transform this nation.

KROFT: -to the conventionin Denver -- did you ever doubt it was going to happen?

OBAMA: Of course.

KROFT: When?

OBAMA: About a year ago, we were down 30 in Iowa.

KROFT: -and to victory on election night. Have there been moments when you've said, 'what did I get myself into?'

KROFT: Good evening, I'm Steve Kroft. Barack Obama's road to the White House on this special edition of CBS Reports.

7:04PM SEGMENT:

STEVE KROFT: When we went to Illinois two years ago to do a story on a young, charismatic senator named Barack Obama, it wasn't because we thought we'd see him sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.

JOHN ROBERTS: So help you God.

BARACK OBAMA: So help me God.

ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.

KROFT: The historic scene at the capitol two weeks ago was something almost no one envisioned at the start of the campaign season, certainly not us. What we did see back then was that Barack Obama was becoming a political phenomenon, and there had never been a presidential candidate quite like him. His last name rhymed with 'Osama'; his middle name was Hussein. Racially, he was half-white and half-black, and politically, he was green. It would have been easy to dismiss him, if it were not for the fact that he was running second in the polls for the Democratic presidential nomination. We wanted to find out what all the fuss was about.

BARACK OBAMA: This is the old state capitol. We've got, obviously, a lot of history here.

KROFT: It was a frigid February night in 2007 at the old state capitol in Springfield, Illinois, where Barack Obama, a first-term senator with two years of national political experience, planned to announce his candidacy for president the following day. Three years ago, you were a state legislator here in Springfield. What makes you think that you're qualified to be President of the United States?

OBAMA: You know, I think we're in a moment of history where probably the most important thing we need to do is to bring the country together. And one of the skills that I bring to bear is being able to pull together the different strands of American life and focus on a -- what we have in common.

KROFT: You don't have any doubts that you're ready?

OBAMA: No.

KROFT: Where do you get all this confidence?

OBAMA: ( Laughs ) My wife asks me that all the time. He sat at this desk.

KROFT: As he gave us a tour of the building where Abraham Lincoln served in the legislature and delivered the 'House Divided' speech, there was much for Obama to be confident about. At age 45, he was one of only three black senators since reconstruction, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago, and the author of two best- selling books. This is a campaign banner?

[LOOKING AT A LINCOLN CAMPAIGN BANNER]

OBAMA: This is a campaign banner.

KROFT: And he was just audacious enough to invite comparisons to one of the few American presidents who was elected with even less political experience than he had.

OBAMA: And he grew into the presidency in ways that I think nobody would have anticipated.

KROFT: We had first met him the week before, at the winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Washington. It was, in the parlance of politicos, a cattle call, an opportunity for all ten Democratic presidential hopefuls to make their pitch to the movers and shakers.

OBAMA: I know that it's hard to believe that we can do this.

KROFT: Obama's reception was warm -- which you might expect for a rising young star. But it was a tough room. Most of those in attendance were already committed to Senator Hillary Clinton or John Edwards, and Obama's candidacy was not yet taken seriously, at least by the party establishment. But it was a much different story later that afternoon, on the campus of George Mason University in the Virginia suburbs, where Obama held his first campaign rally, just two weeks after establishing an exploratory presidential committee.

OBAMA: Our staff didn't had nothing to do with organizing this. They -- these kids organized it, we just showed up. How soon are we ready to start?

KROFT: It was our first exposure to what came to be known as 'Obama-mania.' You sensed immediately that something unusual was going on, something rarely seen in American politics.

OBAMA: You guys are too fired up!

KROFT: 5,000 students had turned out to see him, flooding the main floor of the Johnson Center, and ringing the floors above. He had opposed the Iraq War from the very beginning, and he urged his young audience to cast aside its cynicism of politics and engage the system, evoking the words of Martin Luther King.

OBAMA: The arc the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. It bends towards justice. But here's the thing, young people, it doesn't bend on its own!

KROFT: He had yet to declare his candidacy, but he was already the biggest political celebrity in America. Propelled by the media hunger for a fresh face and a good story, he had graced the covers of 'Time' and 'Newsweek,' been endorsed by Oprah, and the campaign itself seemed to have morphed out of his latest book tour.

...

STEVE KROFT: Well, we were with him at George Mason and it was like -- it was like a rock concert. I mean, he was -- people were mobbing him. Do you understand this charisma thing? You see it?

MICHELLE OBAMA: Yeah, I do. I do. I'm not moved in that way. ( Laughs )

...

STEVE KROFT: Obama's acceptance speech attracted 84,000 people to Invesco Field in Denver, and another 40 million to their television sets all across America, more people than watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics. ( Cheers and applause ) We were waiting backstage just moments after the most improbable nominee, joined by his vice presidential choice, Joe Biden, had given the biggest speech of his career. Did you ever doubt it was going to happen?

OBAMA: Of course.

KROFT: When?

OBAMA: Well, let's see. About a year ago, we were down 30 in Iowa. ( Laughs ) you know, the -- but I never doubted that it could happen. I never doubted that, if we were able to mobilize the energy that you saw in that stadium-

KROFT: Mm-hmm.

OBAMA: -all across the country-

JOE BIDEN: I knew it was going to happen before he did -- I was running like the devil. I watched. I thought I was pretty good, but I watched. I watched, this guy just sort of grabbed the lightning, you know, just grabbed it. And you could tell, Barack, I tell you, my team knew, I knew in August.

KROFT: By the time we continued the conversation with them the next day in Pittsburgh, the political landscape had already changed.

SARAH PALIN: Some of life's greatest opportunities come unexpectedly.

KROFT: That morning, Senator McCain tried to steal the Democrat's thunder by announcing that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin would be his running mate. What do you think of Senator McCain's vice-presidential choice?

OBAMA: She seems to have a compelling life story. Obviously, she's a fine mother and an up-and-coming public servant. My sense is that she subscribes to John McCain's agenda.

KROFT: Does the fact that he chose as his vice president someone who has less experience than you take that weapon out of his arsenal?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that's a good question to address to Senator McCain.

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