It was the thinnest of reeds, but that didn't stop George Stephanopoulos from clinging to it—twice—in doing his best for Harry Reid . . .
Appearing on GMA today, Steph stressed that Reid's remarks about then-candidate Obama being "light-skinned" and having no "negro dialect" were supposed to be "private."
Stephanopoulos tried to put the best face on things during a conversation with weekend co-host Kate Snow.
KATE SNOW: Comments from the Senator Democratic Leader Harry Reid getting a lot of attention this morning. In the book, Game Change, they quote Reid as saying that Pres. Obama, when he was senator, could do well as a candidate because he was, quote, "light-skinned" and that he didn't speak, quote, "with a negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." Reid's apologized for those comments, and the president even said the book is closed on this. But is it?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Ah, well, you know, Reid was already in some political trouble. He's getting, he's up for re-election this November. He's behind both of his possible opponents right now; he's got a 52% unfavorable rating in the state of Nevada. Now, this was a private conversation, it was meant to be private, with the book's authors in which Reid was explaining why he was pushing Obama to run for president in the first place. He thought he would be the absolute best candidate. But his choice of words obviously unfortunate. The senator knows that [Ed.: duh]. But you know I think the fact that President Obama has said this case is closed, the fact that other African-American leaders like Al Sharpton have come out, will at least tamp this down for now. But Reid does have pretty serious political problems at home right now.
Note how even in admitting the obvious—that Reid has political problems—Steph stated that they were only "at home," with no suggestion Reid's majority leadership could be in jeopardy. Can you imagine the cries for political blood if Reid's Republican counterpart had been caught making a similar statement?
UPDATE: Steph Furthers The Flackery On 'This Week'
Later in the morning, hosting This Week, Stephanopoulos stayed true to his team. George:
- Buried the topic at the very end of the Roundtable segment.
- Downplayed the seriousness by claiming Reid was in "a little bit" of hot water. Did Steph say the same about Trent Lott?
- Offered fellow Dem flack Judy Woodruff first ups on the subject. Woodruff conveniently quoted an unnamed White House source saying that Harry Reid has "an ear of tin but a heart of gold." Aww.
- Continued to pound the "it was private" point both in introducing the subject and later with Liz Cheney. When Cheney called Reid's remarks racist and outrageous, George objected: "but in a private conversation he thought was off the record?"
Oddly, the person sticking up for Reid even more strongly than Steph was . . . George Will.
GEORGE WILL: I don't think there's a scintilla of racism in what Harry Reid said. At long last Harry Reid has said something no one can disagree with. And he gets in trouble for it.
Liz didn't hesitate to take on someone ostensibly from her side of the aisle.
LIZ CHENEY: George, give me a break.