CNN on Obama's Treasury Secretary Picks: 'Perfect' If Wall St. Hates Them, Good If Wall St. Likes Them

CNN had a friendly take on President Obama's Treasury Secretary nominee Jack Lew, despite the pick receiving sharp criticism from conservative circles. "He's definitely the guy for the next several months," CNN's Ali Velshi gave the White House spin on Thursday's Newsroom.

"Yeah, funnily enough if Wall Street hates him, he might be perfect for the job," chuckled anchor Michael Holmes."That's what a lot of people think, Michael, actually," Velshi added. Back in 2008, however, CNN framed Wall Street support for potential nominee Tim Geithner as a good thing.

"Timothy Geithner is obviously a popular choice on Wall Street because he's kind of the home team guy," said anchor Miles O'Brien on the November 24, 2008 edition of The Situation Room.

Christine Romans said this about Geithner on American Morning on November 25, 2008:

"Wall Street really liked Tim Geithner, the New York Fed president, somebody who they see as somebody who's been very key to a lot that's been happening this year already. He's already worked with Secretary Paulson. He knows intimately what's happening in terms of the financial system. They feel like it's not like you're waiting until January 20th for Tim Geithner to take over. He's in there right now helping, and they like it."

However, later on Thursday, Velshi framed Wall Street's hatred for Lew as a good thing: "But apparently Wall Street doesn't like him so much. So, who cares what Wall Street thinks? To many Americans, that should actually make him more palatable."

Velshi maintained that Geithner "was the guy for the job" in 2008 because "when the world was in a financial crisis, it all circulated around banks and credit and central banks." Now, he claimed, "it's all about the budget," adding "this guy [Lew] knows budgets. He knows everything about it. No learning curve. He is dropping right into this debt ceiling debate."

However, lost in the analysis was the conservative criticism of Lew. Velshi only had this lame bit for that: "So being the chief of staff to President Obama might be seen as a bit partisan for the job."

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) went so far as to state that "Jack Lew must never be Secretary of Treasury," adding that "His testimony before the Senate Budget Committee less than two years ago was so outrageous and false that it alone disqualifies."

National Journal reported this about the GOP and Lew:

"House Republicans strongly dislike Lew. GOP members and staffers negotiated with him on the debt ceiling deal in the summer of 2011: an experience that left them with deep-seated, raw feelings of disdain for a man they view as condescending, too liberal, and unable to get to 'yes' in a negotiation."

And the liberal New Republic loved the pick because Republicans hated it:

"Perhaps not surprisingly, GOP leaders have repeatedly petitioned the White House to send someone other than Lew to join them at the bargaining table. Which points to at least one reason to love his nomination: It’s an instance of Obama emphatically not allowing Republicans to choose their negotiating partner, a rule he hasn’t always observed.  

Simply put, the president is getting the Treasury secretary who most closely reflects his thinking about the size, shape, and role of the state (something that, by the way, seems increasingly true of his second-term cabinet writ large)."

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014