Robert Gibbs Mocks CBS's Coverage of Obama Tape, Charlie Rose Changes the Subject

When push came to shove, CBS's Charlie Rose caved to the wishes of Obama adviser Robert Gibbs on Wednesday's CBS This Morning. Gibbs derided CBS for hammering a controversial video of Obama from 2007, and Rose quickly changed the subject.

"I have to say I'm a little amazed that, as you mentioned, a widely-covered speech, likely by people at your network, has somehow caused a kerfluffle five years later because somebody like Sean Hannity decided to re-air what was covered extensively," mocked Gibbs, to which Rose replied "Let me move on."

"You wonder why you get a debate that's a little bit distracted during a political campaign when something like this happens," Gibbs had quipped to CBS. Rose didn't call out Gibbs for his spin that the speech was "widely-covered," because while the speech was covered by the media the most controversial portion of it didn't surface widely until Tuesday.

Meanwhile, when Romney adviser Kevin Madden wanted to move on from the video and discuss Obama's policies, co-host Norah O'Donnell instead followed up about the tape. "I think what's much more important to this debate right now are the President's policies," Madden said, but O'Donnell wouldn't move off the topic.

"Kevin, Sean Hannity said last night he thinks that this video is a bombshell. Do you think it is a bombshell, and will the Romney campaign use it in television ads as the Obama team has used that 47 percent video in television ads?" she asked.

Rose also pressed Madden about voters seeing a "new Romney," as if the "old Romney" won't cut it. "Kevin, if they do not see a new Romney, will they see a Romney offering specifics as to deductions that he might prefer in terms of what we do not now see in tax reform?" Rose asked.

A transcript of the Gibbs interview, which aired on CBS This Morning on October 3 at 7:09 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

NORAH O'DONNELL: Now let's turn to Robert Gibbs, he's a senior adviser to the Obama campaign. Good morning, Robert.

ROBERT GIBBS: Good morning, guys. How are you?

O'DONNELL: Good, I also want to give you an opportunity to respond to that tape that was aired by Fox, the President talking about what happened in New Orleans. Does the President believe the Bush administration did not help the victims of Hurricane Katrina because of their race?

GIBBS: Well, look, as you said, the President said that the incompetence that surrounded the federal government's response to Katrina in 2005 was colorblind. What the President is talking about in that tape is the law that governs disaster assistance requires a 10 percent match for a community to qualify for disaster assistance. We waived it for Hurricane Andrew, we waived it for New York City in 9/11, and Barack Obama and members of the Mississippi and Louisiana delegations all believed we should also waive it for New Orleans.

O'DONNELL: So you're not worried about the optics of this tape?
 
GIBBS: Look, if the Republicans want to defend the Bush administration's response to Katrina, I'm sure the President would give them his time during the debate to do that. But, look, I have to say I'm a little amazed that, as you mentioned, a widely-covered speech, likely by people at your network, has somehow caused a kerfluffle five years later because somebody like Sean Hannity decided to re-air what was covered extensively. You wonder why you get a debate that's a little bit distracted during a political campaign when something like this happens.

ROSE: Let me move on. Is there something that the Obama campaign believes the President has to do tonight, because clearly the Romney people believe this is their opportunity to reset this campaign?

GIBBS: Well Charlie, what I think you'll hear the President do tonight is have a conversation directly with the American people about where we've been over the past four years and what we have to continue to do moving forward to strengthen our economy, to build it from the middle out and give people a real sense of security and opportunity. And talk about retraining workers and bringing manufacturing jobs back into this country, hiring new math and science teachers to improve our education, doubling our exports, all of those things that will help create jobs as we move forward, and strengthen our economy. I must say, Charlie, I was struck by Kevin's answer about that once again, the Romney campaign says they really don't have time to discuss the specifics of their tax plan. And this is a five trillion dollar tax cut for the wealthy –

(Crosstalk)

ROSE: – the specifics of what the President prepared to do in terms of spending cuts as well?

GIBBS: Well no, I don't think that's true. I think if you look at the budget plan that the President's outlined, he has a $4 trillion spending cut plan that deals with making sure that our tax code is fair and that those that are on the upper end of the tax code are paying a little bit more. Let's be clear, Mitt Romney's $5 trillion tax plan isn't hard to explain because of the time, it's hard to explain because of the math. The math doesn't add up. Five trillion dollars isn't paid for, and what that requires, as economic studies have shown, is that Mitt Romney will have to raise on middle class families to provide people like him with a tax cut.

O'DONNELL: Speaking of middle class families, Robert, median household income for Americans for the four years that Barack Obama has been in office has dropped $4,000. Middle class families are hurting. And yesterday the Vice President Joe Biden said how can you justify raising taxes on the middle class that has been buried the last four years? Was that a gaffe by Biden or was he speaking the truth?

GIBBS: What Vice President Biden was saying, was what I believe many middle class families throughout this country believe, median household income didn't fall in the last four years, median household income fell in the last decade for the first time since we began keeping statistics.

O'DONNELL: But Robert, he said – the Vice President said buried the last four years, suggesting something happened in the Obama administration.

GIBBS: No. What Joe Biden and President Obama have suggested each and every day on this campaign trail is that we had eight years of horrific economic decisions, tax cuts for the very wealthy, Wall Street writing its own rules. It culminated in an economic disaster that took place about four years ago, and that – of which we've had to dig out from each day of the last four years. But let's be clear Norah, the middle class has been buried for a lot longer than the time that we've been dealing with bad economic decisions from the former administration. People in the middle class have been working harder each and every day and watching their wages decline.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center