Charlie Gibson's SOTU Suggestion to Prez: "Admit Things are Really Bad"

With all the speculation about Katie Couric moving to the CBS Evening News anchor desk, a guy like me whose shtick is to cover her antics at the Today show could be concerned about his blogging future.

Not to worry. Flipping over to Good Morning America today reassured me: there is an apparently inexhaustible supply of liberal media bias and the talking heads to spout it.

The topic was President Bush's impending State of the Union Address. In assembling its panel, GMA resorted to an old MSM trick - coupling a fire-breathing liberal opponent of the president with someone ostensibly from the Republican side, but who in many ways is an opponent-in-disguise. And so it was that host Charlie Gibson's guests were James Carville and Bay Buchanan, who in her own right and on behalf of brother Pat have been antagonists of the Bushes on many an issue from Iraq, to Israel to trade for many years.

The atmosphere was frankly funereal, with Gibson reciting W's latest less-than-luminous poll numbers and wondering whether the president could possibly use the speech to dig himself out. Bay's opening remarks only added to the gloom fest: "The most damaging aspect of the polls is not one number over the other but that there seems to be some general discontent among Americans that the leadership of the Republican party is not taking the country where it needed to go."

Gibson then slipped in a nasty little snipe, painting a picture of an intransigent president: "numbers are volatile and you can never put too much in polls but this is not a man prone to changing course."

An unusually subdued Carville said that he agreed with Buchanan - not really surprising considering the shot she had taken at the administration. He said "one is almost tempted to feel sorry for President Bush." Crocodilian Carville tears, one presumes.

When Carville suggested that the president try to convince people that things were "better than they think," Gibson turned to Buchanan. His voice dripping with skepticism, Gibson asked: "can he convince people that things are better than they think? - they haven't gotten their heating bills yet."

Bay was only too happy to join the downbeat consensus: "You're absolutely right here. James has a point - the American people understand how things are. I don't think he can make that case [that things are better than they think]. People are being laid off by the thousands."

There was nobody to point out that while there are displacements in any dynamic economy, in fact unemployment is at historically low levels and that while some jobs are being lost, many more are being created.

In a manner that one can't help but think expressed his own fondest wish, Gibson interpreted Bay's comments as suggesting that President Bush should: "go belly up a little bit, and admit that things are really bad."

Gibson squeezed in a quick sideswipe about "the Abramoff scandal that [W's] got coming." He closed by concluding that "it will be a very tough night, a very tough speech to make."

Ah, but a very bright morning for GMA.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.