CBS Surprisingly Skeptical on Obama–Wright
Remember how the MSM swooned over Barack Obama's Philly speech on race after the Rev. Wright tapes pushed the story to the front pages? I expected the same kind of rapturous reaction to Obama's press conference of yesterday in which he definitively ditched the conspiracy-mongering minister.
But, surprisingly, that was not the case at all on CBS's Early Show this morning. To the contrary, the tone was set by the opening graphic shown here, which skeptically asked: "too little, too late?" And when Bob Schieffer and Juan Williams appeared a bit later, they were similarly cynical. Then again, there was one bit of perhaps unintentional candor on host Harry Smith's part, of which more later.
Here's how the exchange went down.
View video here.
HARRY SMITH: This is all about distance. Did Barack Obama successfully distance himself from Rev. Wright yesterday?
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I don't know what else he could say. He basically denounced Rev. Wright, he said he did not represent his views, he put as much separation as he possibly could. But the question now, Harry, is will people believe him? Will they say, "look, if this is how he feels about the man, why didn't he know about all this before? Why did he keep going to the church?" Or they will say "well, he agrees with Rev. Wright, but being a politician, he had to say what he had to say." Rev. Wright dealt a devastating blow, it seems to me. I think he's done about all he could do, but the question is, will that be enough? Will people accept it?
Williams was no more sanguine than Schieffer.
SMITH: Juan, it seems so clear that Obama's campaign has stalled for the last week or so, even longer because of all of this. Can he get any of his momentum back?
JUAN WILLIAMS: Well, it's going to be tough. You know, you've got North Carolina and Indiana coming up next week, so it's immediate, and it's going to be a hard time to try to reclaim the center and reestablish who Barack Obama is in the public mind as we go into that race, because what we see is the polls tightening in North Carolina and the advantage he held in Indiana seems to be melting away especially among so-called Reagan Democrats, sort of middle-of-the-road white voters who may have been saying "I want to jump on Barack Obama's bandwagon: he's exciting, he's fresh, he's idealistic," but now people are saying "do I really know this guy?" because as Bob was saying, if he sat there for 20 years, it's not like the things Rev. Wright said at the press club were new, he's just reiterating them on a broader scale, and so is it a matter of a lack of judgment, was it political expediency that caused Barack Obama to sit there and nod along for all that time?
That's when Smith let the MSM curtain slip.
SMITH: Here's where I want to go. I remember being on the bus with him in Iowa--with Barack Obama--and there was all of this upswelling of support and I said "do we live in a post-racial time? Is it possible we live in this post-racial time?" We've had nothing, it's all been about race for the last two or three weeks now. Bob let me start with you: can Barack Obama get past race as this campaign goes on?
SCHIEFFER: Well if he doesn't, he's not going to succeed here, but I think Juan is exactly right. There are a lot of people who said "I really like this guy, it makes me feel good to hear him say what he's saying," but now there's this uneasiness even among people who really, really liked him. There's this uneasiness about why has this gotten to where it is, and I think we'll find out. We're going to find out in North Carolina and especially in Indiana, but I just don't think we'll know until people have a chance to think about this a little bit. But this has really, really hurt him, I think, Harry.
SMITH: Juan, in the 20 seconds I have left, can Barack Obama get this past the race issue?
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, it's really hard right now because it's all racial and I think he wishes he hadn't got back into that kind of ugly, divisive talk. That's what he said yesterday. But it goes beyond, to the fall election. You can imagine, the Republicans, state parties are already using this to put down Democrats further down the ticket. So the superdelegates have to think: what's the impact, do we just want to have this racial conversation, or do we want to get back to the issues and Democrats versus Republicans? [i.e., should they ditch Obama and choose Hillary?]
All in all, a shockingly downbeat assessment.
But let's back up a bit to Smith talking about being on that bus with Obama in Iowa "and there was all of this upswelling of support." That was presumably a press bus. So who was the "upswelling of support" coming from, Harry? Along similar lines, when Schieffer speaks of a sense of unease even among people who "really, really liked him," you sense he's speaking at least as much about his fellow MSMers as he is the voters.