Sneak Peek: CBS's Kroft Sympathizes With Obama in Soft '60 Minutes' Interview

In a preview of President Obama's upcoming 60 Minutes interview on Friday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Steve Kroft is shown commiserating with the commander-in-chief over midterm election losses: "People have made the argument you lost control of the narrative, you've let other people define you, that you haven't sold your successes well enough."

Kroft was understanding as he lamented Obama's political problems: "People who were among your most ardent supporters...feel a little disappointed, that they think that you've lost your mojo, that you lost your ability, that touch you had during the campaign to inspire and lead." He noted how "everybody in Washington writes about this sort of aloofness that you have. And I'm sure that drives you crazy."  

At the top of the Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased the softball interview: "The President tells 60 Minutes he realizes his message is not getting through to voters....More of that exclusive CBS News interview, including how the President plans to get back on track." The headline on screen during the later preview touted a quote from the President: "Obama Opens Up; Tells 60 Minutes 'Leadership Isn't Just Legislation'"

Kroft has a history of lobbing softballs at Obama, as was detailed in the Media Research Center's special report, Syrupy Minutes: How CBS's 60 Minutes Works Overtime for the Obama Left.

Following the clip of Kroft, co-host Harry Smith spoke with the Washington Post's Bob Woodward about Obama. Similar to Kroft, Woodward empathized with the how difficult things have been for the President: "...there's this concentration of power and expectation in the presidency to an extent that we've never seen before. Obama's out every day campaigning or doing something, so people want him to handle all these problems in a way instantly and, of course, he can't and has not done that."

Smith went on to wonder who Obama would turn to as a mentor in these difficult times: "Who does he call, who does he have a conversation with, who does he go for a walk in the woods with, so to speak, in order to formulate who he is and what he's about for the next two years?" Woodward urged the President to be more open to outside ideas: "...the circle's too narrow. He's got to broaden it. He's got to get opinions outside that narrow group in the White House....The White House game plan has been too narrow. People don't like that. He's got to be much more inclusive."


Here is a full transcript of the November 5 segment:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Obama speaks out in his first interview since a disastrous midterm election. The President tells 60 Minutes he realizes his message is not getting through to voters.

BARACK OBAMA: We stopped paying attention to the fact that leadership isn't just legislation, that it's a matter of persuading people.

RODRIGUEZ: More of that exclusive CBS News interview, including how the President plans to get back on track.         

7:02AM ET SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: Now to the latest from President Obama on the midterm elections. In an exclusive one-on-one interview with Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes. The President talks about the Democrats' humbling losses on Tuesday and says he's not doing enough to get the voters on his side.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Obama Opens Up; Tells 60 Minutes "Leadership Isn't Just Legislation"]

STEVE KROFT: There is this feeling, particularly among people who were among your most ardent supporters-

BARACK OBAMA: Right.

KROFT: Who feel a little disappointed, that they think that you've lost your mojo, that you lost your ability, that touch you had during the campaign to inspire and lead. And, you know, everybody in Washington writes about this sort of aloofness that you have. And I'm sure that drives you crazy. How do you respond to that? How do you, you know, the argument is – people have made the argument you lost control of the narrative, you've let other people define you, that you haven't sold your successes well enough.

OBAMA: I think it's – I think it's a fair argument. You know, I think that, over the course of two years, we were so busy and so focused on getting a bunch of stuff done that we stopped paying attention to the fact that leadership isn't just legislation, that it's a matter of persuading people and giving them confidence and bringing them together and setting a tone and making an argument that people can understand. And I think that we haven't always been successful at that, and I take personal responsibility for that. And it's something that I've got to examine carefully as I go forward.

SMITH: Joining us now from Washington for a closer look at the President's remarks is Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, who is, of course, also the author of the best-selling book 'Obama's Wars.' Bob, good morning.

BOB WOODWARD: Morning.

SMITH: How interesting has it been to observe the President over the last 48 hours or so and just even listening in on that short clip from the interview with Steve Kroft, what do you see when you watch the President?

WOODWARD: Well, first, he's humbled. And maybe humiliated to a certain extent. So, he has to grovel a little bit, which is what he's doing. He talks about persuasion and, of course, what voters, what people want, they want problems fixed. And he hasn't yet fixed some of the main issues, particularly the economy. But what all of this shows, I think, Harry, is there's this concentration of power and expectation in the presidency to an extent that we've never seen before. Obama's out every day campaigning or doing something, so people want him to handle all these problems in a way instantly and, of course, he can't and has not done that.

SMITH: It certainly seems as if he is faced with some decisions here, as he's jumping on an airplane to go to India, he'll have plenty of time to think about what he does when he comes back. He's extended this invitation to the leadership in the House and the Senate from both sides of the aisles, said, 'let's come together, let's have dinner.' What does he need to decide? What does he need to figure out as this new Republican-dominated Congress comes into office in January?

WOODWARD: I think probably three things. First of all, what – he's got this political problem of dealing with the Republicans. How is he going to approach that? What's going to be the strategy? How willing is he going to be to compromise? Second, I think the economy. Unemployment, big, big deal. These problems can't be solved in a year or two years. He's got to develop, really, a long-term plan, five, ten years, he's got to get the Republicans to sign onto some of that. And then the third area is foreign policy. The war in Afghanistan, the threat of terror is very real.

SMITH: As you've been able to observe so closely all these different administrations, this one included, who does he call, who does he have a conversation with, who does he go for a walk in the woods with, so to speak, in order to formulate who he is and what he's about for the next two years?

WOODWARD: I think one of the things you find and I find in my reporting on this is the circle's too narrow. He's got to broaden it. He's got to get opinions outside that narrow group in the White House. I suspect he's going to be not just calling the Republican leaders for dinner, he's going to be calling lots of old hands in the Democratic Party, in the world. I suspect he'll have Bill Clinton in. I suspect he might even have George W. Bush in. He has to think it through in a much larger context. The White House game plan has been too narrow. People don't like that. He's got to be much more inclusive.

SMITH: 'Obama's Wars' is Bob Woodward's latest book. And we thank you, Bob Woodward, for taking the time for being with us this morning. We do appreciate it.

WOODWARD: Thank you.

SMITH: And you can see more of Steve Kroft's interview with President Obama on 60 Minutes. That's Sunday night, right here on CBS.

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