CNN’s two senior political analysts, Gloria Borger and David Gergen, reacted favorably to President Barack Obama’s performance at his first press conference on Monday night. Borger highlighted how the Democrat apparently “came across as a real pragmatist.” Later, Gergen stated that it was a “classic and shrewd exercise of presidential power.”
The two analysts participated in the network’s post-press conference programming, which took up the entire 9 pm Eastern hour on Monday night. Five minutes into the hour, Borger made her “pragmatist” comment, and continued with what she gathered from the president’s remarks: “What I heard tonight was somebody who kept saying I can’t afford to see Congress play the same usual political games. But the interesting fight that we’re setting up here is whether the new president really understands the role or can cope with the role that ideology now plays in our politics today.”
Fourteen minutes later, anchor Anderson Cooper asked Gergen for his take on the press conference, introducing him as someone who has “advised presidents, Republican and Democrat.” The analyst played up how President Obama was going to win in the end:
ANDERSON COOPER: What do you think this president’s staff is saying to him tonight? What would you say to him tonight after this press conference?
DAVID GERGEN: Well done, pour it on -- Anderson, I thought it was a classic and shrewd exercise of presidential power. Only the president has the bully pulpit, and tonight, at a critical moment in his presidency, he seized that bully pulpit, dramatized the economy for the country, took his case to the people, and I think put pressure on Congress to get it passed. And I think it’s going to work and work in the way that the White House has clearly set this up. He goes to Elkhart [Indiana]; he brings Elkhart into the conversation [unintelligible] repeatedly in order to personalize it. But he -- by setting this up as a big test of power, in the next few days, he’s going to win. He’s going to get a bill through the Congress. One way or the other -- he may not have many Republicans, but he’s going to get a bill. I think we all know that, and about a week to ten days from now, there’s -- everybody in Washington is going to be talking about a major presidential victory, which he helped to set up with this press conference tonight. And people -- it’s going to enhance his power to deal with these tough economic days ahead. So I thought it was a good way to go on offense, and also I think it was a way to enhance his own power, so he can get other things done well beyond this stimulus package.
During the hour, CNN had their anchors and analysts sit at one table in their studio and their partisan talking heads at another, just as they had done during the presidential debates. But given the way that both Borger and Gergen were reacting (not to leave out two of the others sitting with Borger: Soledad O’Brien, who compared Obama to the Hudson River pilot; and senior legal analyst/resident Obama spokesman Jeffrey Toobin), you might have a hard time telling the difference between the two.