CNN’s Campbell Brown Lectures Obama For Brushing Off Media’s Questions

Campbell Brown, CNN Anchor | NewsBusters.orgOn Monday’s “No Bias, No Bull” program, CNN’s Campbell Brown lashed out at President-Elect Barack Obama for his flippant response to a reporter’s question: “Mr. President-Elect, reporters, we hope, are going to ask you a lot of annoying questions over the next four years. Get used to it. That is the job of the media, to hold you accountable. But this isn’t just about the media. It’s about the American people, many of whom voted for you because of what you said during the campaign, and they have a right to know which of those things you meant and which you didn’t. Apparently, as you made clear today, you didn't mean what you said about Hillary Clinton. So, what else didn’t you mean?”

During the press conference where Obama unveiled his national security team, Peter Baker of the New York Times brought up the tough primary fight between the President-Elect and Mrs Clinton: “...[Y]ou were asked and talked about the qualifications of the -- your now, your nominee for Secretary of State, and you belittled her travels around the world, equating it to having teas with foreign leaders. And your new White House counsel said that her resume was grossly exaggerated when it came to foreign policy. I’m wondering whether you can talk about the evolution of your views of her credentials since the spring.” The outgoing Illinois senator replied, “I mean, I think -- this is fun for the press to try to stir up whatever quotes were generated during the course of the campaign. No, I understand, and you’re having fun.”

Brown reacted sarcastically to this “having fun” remark: “There we go again. The pesky media -- all we want to do is have a little fun, stir things up for our own amusement. I mean, really, how silly of that reporter to dare ask you, Mr. President-Elect, how it is that you completely mocked Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy experience just a few months ago, and yet today, you think there is no one more qualified than she to lead your foreign policy team? It’s a clever device, treating a question so dismissively in an attempt to delegitimize it, but it is a legitimate question. As annoying how you may have found it, it is a fair question.”

The full transcript of Brown’s monologue, which came during her regular “Cutting Through the Bull” feature just after the top of the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program on Monday:

CAMPBELL BROWN: First tonight, though, as always, we are ‘Cutting Through the Bull.’ No one here needs to be reminded of how heated things got between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during the campaign. She trashed him, saying he wasn’t ready to be commander-in-chief. He trashed her, mocking her foreign policy experience as first lady. Well, now, of course, they have put all of that behind them, so that she can become his Secretary of State. Naturally, given all that was said, this issue came up during an exchange with reporters today. This is worth listening to.

PETER BAKER, NEW YORK TIMES: You talked about the importance, just now, of having different voices and robust debate within your administration. But, again, going back to the campaign, you were asked and talked about the qualifications of the -- your now, your nominee for Secretary of State, and you belittled her travels around the world, equating it to having teas with foreign leaders. And your new White House counsel said that her resume was grossly exaggerated when it came to foreign policy. I’m wondering whether you can talk about the evolution of your views of her credentials since the spring.

PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: I mean, I think -- this is fun for the press to try to stir up whatever quotes were generated during the course of the campaign. No, I understand, and you’re having fun.

BROWN: There we go again. The pesky media -- all we want to do is have a little fun, stir things up for our own amusement. I mean, really, how silly of that reporter to dare ask you, Mr. President-Elect, how it is that you completely mocked Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy experience just a few months ago, and yet today, you think there is no one more qualified than she to lead your foreign policy team? It’s a clever device, treating a question so dismissively in an attempt to delegitimize it, but it is a legitimate question. As annoying how you may have found it, it is a fair question. It was only in March of this year that Greg Craig, your new White House counsel, put out a memo over four pages long, outlining point by point Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy claims, calling them all exaggerated, just words, not supported by her record.

Now, look, maybe you regret what you said about Hillary Clinton. Maybe it was, as you suggested today, all just said in the heat of the campaign. If that is the case, and you are both now rising above it, then you deserve to be commended for that. And you could have been explicit in saying all of that today. You could have explained the evolution of your thinking, instead of belittling a question you didn't like.

Mr. President-Elect, reporters, we hope, are going to ask you a lot of annoying questions over the next four years. Get used to it. That is the job of the media, to hold you accountable. But this isn’t just about the media. It’s about the American people, many of whom voted for you because of what you said during the campaign, and they have a right to know which of those things you meant and which you didn’t. Apparently, as you made clear today, you didn't mean what you said about Hillary Clinton. So, what else didn’t you mean? The media is going to be asking, and you were wrong today. Annoying questions are about more than just the press having fun. Annoying questions are about the press doing its job and the people’s right to know.

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