ABC’s Claire Shipman: Obama, Geithner 'Could Have Been Separated At Birth'

ABC correspondent Claire Shipman lauded President-Elect Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary-Designate Tim Geithner on Tuesday’s Good Morning America: “It might not be immediately obvious, but insiders say the President-Elect and his pick for the top economic spot could have been separated at birth.” She later quoted The Economist’s line about the future top bureaucrat, that both Obama and Geithner “have a hipster, wonky cool about them,” and that both “like to relax by shooting hoops.” Shipman even played up the “hipster” label by stating how “[t]he new Treasury Secretary is also known to surf and skateboard.”

[Audio clip from Shipman's report available here.]

Shipman began her report by describing what Obama admired about Geithner, along with a personal anecdote about the federal bureaucrat: “Well, his smarts and his style -- that's what aides say appeal to Barack Obama, and here’s another clue about his character -- he’s an avid amateur photographer, and friends say that very much explains the way he likes to work. He likes to watch, observe, and then act.” She then gave her “separated at birth” line.

Later, the ABC correspondent played three clips of a close friend of Geithner, Professor Justin Rudelson of Dartmouth, who unsurprisingly spoke well of the Treasury Secretary-designate. Then, as Shipman gave some details about how Geithner “married his college sweetheart” and how “his father was his best man,” sweet piano music played in the background, as you might expect in a gushy biography.

Shipman concluded her report by emphasizing that despite Geithner “has a brilliant mind,” despite not being a “trained economist.” She continued that “he’s also said to be a proud workaholic, which should serve him well in the next few months.”

The full transcript of Claire Shipman’s report, which aired 13 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of ABC’s Good Morning America:

ROBIN ROBERTS: Now, to ‘America in Transition,’ and a closer look at President-Elect Obama’s choice for Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner. He’s been on the front lines of finance for years, holding top finance jobs in both New York and Washington, DC. But who exactly is this man who has been tapped to help solve the economic crisis? Our senior national correspondent, Claire Shipman, gives us an insight and joins us from Washington. Good morning, Claire.

CLAIRE SHIPMAN: Good morning, Robin. Well, his smarts and his style -- that's what aides say appeal to Barack Obama, and here’s another clue about his character -- he’s an avid amateur photographer, and friends say that very much explains the way he likes to work. He likes to watch, observe, and then act.

SHIPMAN (voice-over): It might not be immediately obvious, but insiders say the President-Elect and his pick for the top economic spot could have been separated at birth.

PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: Tim’s extensive international experience makes him uniquely suited to do that work.

SHIPMAN: Both, at 47, look younger than their years. Both, according to The Economist, have a hipster, wonky cool about them. And both were shaped by childhoods abroad -- Geithner living in India, Thailand, and Zimbabwe. They even both like to relax by shooting hoops -- Geithner, with his staff, at the New York Federal Reserve building during lunch time. The new Treasury Secretary is also known to surf and skateboard.

PROFESSOR JUSTIN RUDELSON, PHD, DARTMOUTH COLLEGE: It’s not unbelievable that Tim’s in this position. I think what’s unbelievable is that someone who's so nice and humble and focused, energetic, can be in this position.

SHIPMAN: And Justin Rudleson, a close college friend of 30 years, notes Obama and Geithner has a similar style.

RUDELSON: He gets consensus. He gets ideas from other people, and people know when they talk to him that he’s going to listen.

SHIPMAN: But while his public image today is humble, even shy, those who know him well say he might have had another career.

RUDELSON: If we could get him out of his business suit, would be, maybe, on doing standup comedy.

SHIPMAN: He married his college sweetheart, his father was his best man, and today, he and his wife have two teenagers. Geithner is extremely private, but he’ll have to get used to the spotlight quickly, as critics start to look at the recent financial deals he’s brokered -- bailing out Bear Stearns, now Citibank, and letting Lehman fall.

HUGH JOHNSON, CEO, JOHNSON ILLINGTON ADVISORS: I think he’s made some mistakes, in my own opinion. I think letting Lehman go they way they let Lehman go was probably a mistake. We know that in hindsight.

SHIPMAN (on-camera): Now, he’s not a trained economist. But as you heard in the previous discussion, Robin, almost everybody agrees he has a brilliant mind. He knows monetary and fiscal policy inside-out, and he’s also said to be a proud workaholic, which should serve him well in the next few months.

ROBERTS: Oh, indeed, Claire. Thanks so much.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center