NBC's Curry Argues Obama's 'Fine' Gaffe 'Taken Out of Context'

Straining to find a way to excuse President Obama's Friday remark that "the private sector is doing fine," on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Ann Curry did her best to spin for the White House: "He is right in saying that the private sector is doing better than the public sector, is he not? And so that was his point, that this comment was taken out of context." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Curry's attempt at Obama campaign damage control was prompted by left-wing guest and MSNBC host Chris Hayes arguing: "I would also say that the point he's making specifically about the difference between where the private sector's at and where the public sector's at is a really important one. We've lost 600,000 jobs in the public sector....Those layoffs did not have to happen if we had extended revenue sharing from the federal government."

In his rush confirm Curry's framing of the President's serious stumble, Hayes employed a rather unfortunate analogy to describe the state of the economy: "I also think the word 'fine' in that context is like if you fell and gashed your head and you were bleeding and your friend said, 'Are you okay?' And you said, 'I'm fine.' It means you don't have to rush me to the emergency room."

In other words, the economic problems facing the nation are merely a gushing head wound for America.

Curry began the discussion by comparing Obama's comment to a similar gaffe made by John McCain in 2008, asking guest Meghan McCain: "So comparisons are being made this morning, actually over the weekend, between the President's 'private sector is doing fine' remark and also your father's remark four years ago...'the fundamentals of the economy are strong'...How damaging do you think the President's remark will be to his campaign?"

McCain replied: "I think we need to keep in mind that no one sentence is ever going to make or break any campaign or any presidency. All of that being said, it was not a great time for him to make that statement and I think it has done a lot of damage this week....it comes off as insensitive and out of touch."

Later in the same segment, Hayes excused national security leaks allegedly coming from the White House: "I think we need more leaks and not less."


Here is a transcript of the June 11 exchange:

7:19AM ET

ANN CURRY: Meghan McCain is the daughter of Republican Senator John McCain, and her new book has a racy title which I'm not quite sure I can say in full, so it's called,  "America You Sexy (rhymes with witch)." Also we have Chris Hayes, he's the co-host of MSNBC's Up with Chris Hayes and he's also the author of "Twilight of the Elites." Good morning to both of you.

MEGHAN MCCAIN: Good morning.

CHRIS HAYES: Good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Decision 2012; Romney Pounces on Obama's "Fine" Gaffe]

CURRY: So comparisons are being made this morning, actually over the weekend, between the President's "private sector is doing fine" remark and also your father's remark four years ago, where Senator John McCain declared that, "the fundamentals of the economy are strong," when in fact Wall Street was collapsing. How damaging do you think the President's remark will be to his campaign?

MEGHAN MCCAIN: I think we need to keep in mind that no one sentence is ever going to make or break any campaign or any presidency. All of that being said, it was not a great time for him to make that statement and I think it has done a lot of damage this week.

CURRY: How much hey do you think that can be made, though, as we move forward, Chris?

HAYES: I think that Meghan's right, in that the big problem for John McCain in 2008 was the actual objective conditions of the economy, and the challenge that the President faces are actually – is actually the unemployment rate. Whatever he says or doesn't say about it, at the end of the day that's what's going to drive voters. I mean, that's the far bigger concern than, than the comment. I think they're going to try to make hey out of it.

But I think that – I would also say that the point he's making specifically about the difference between where the private sector's at and where the public sector's at is a really important one. We've lost 600,000 jobs in the public sector since the beginning of this recession, largely at the local and state level. And those didn't have to happen. Those layoffs did not have to happen if we had extended revenue sharing from the federal government.

CURRY: He is right in saying that the private sector is doing better than the public sector, is he not?

HAYES: Yeah, I think-

CURRY: And so that was his point, that this comment was taken out of context.

HAYES: Yup. I think it's important to distinguish between what's going on with state and local governments and what's going on in the private sector. I also think the word "fine" in that context is like if you fell and gashed your head and you were bleeding and your friend said, "Are you okay?" And you said, "I'm fine." It means you don't have to rush me to the emergency room.

CURRY: Meantime, though-

MCCAIN: Regardless, the President shouldn't be making statements like that right now. It still comes off insensitive. And to all workers that are being shown in the Romney ads, it comes off as insensitive and out of touch.

CURRY: Romney, obviously, might be – obviously is making a lot of comments about this since the President made the comment. He's basically trying to present the idea that this is a window into how President Obama thinks. What's your sense about that? Do you think that this just adds ammunition to his idea that this is how the President actually thinks?

MCCAIN: I think it can be seen as this being sort of a lens into how President Obama thinks. That being said, I think what Chris and I are reiterating because we both work in the media, this is one sentence, and the variables of the economy are really going to be what determine this election, not just one statement.

(...)

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