Fareed Zakaria Defends Obama's Oil Spill Response: 'What Does the Media Want the President to Do?'

Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria on Sunday worked overtime trying to defend Barack Obama's pathetic response to the Gulf Coast oil spill while chastising his colleagues in the media for having the nerve to criticize the president.

In the opening segment of his "Fareed Zakaria GPS" aired on CNN, Zakaria asked, "Have we all gone crazy?" 

He continued, "In dealing with the serious problem involving technical breakdown, engineering malfunctions, environmental fallout, regulatory mishaps, the media has decided to hone in on one central issue above all others: presidential emotion."

 

With a chyron at the bottom of the screen asking, "What does the media want the President to do," Zakaria told viewers, "The truth is that what's happening in the Gulf is a terrible tragedy, but there is very little the federal government can do in the short-term to actually stop the spill" (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):  

FAREED ZAKARIA: Have we all gone crazy? I don't mean you, I mean us, the media. In dealing with the serious problem involving technical breakdown, engineering malfunctions, environmental fallout, regulatory mishaps, the media has decided to hone in on one central issue above all others: presidential emotion. The overriding need of the hour, we have decided, is not a cleanup plan, not a regulatory overhaul, not a new energy policy, but the image of the president visibly enraged.

At this point in the complete segment that aired Sunday, Zakaria showed a clip of a video created by the Huffington Post that included snippets of media coverage asking the president to show more emotion on this subject.

For some reason the folks at CNN.com chose to edit out this portion in the video it published Saturday evening. Maybe they didn't want people to know that Zakaria was channeling the view of one of the most liberal websites in the nation.

But I digress: 

ZAKARIA: And what exactly is the point of all this? What purpose would be served by having the president scream or cry or whatever it is he's supposed to do to show emotion? Would it plug the hole? The truth is that what's happening in the Gulf is a terrible tragedy, but there is very little the federal government can do in the short-term to actually stop the spill.

This is either staggering ignorance or shameful dishonesty. After all, there ARE things the federal government could have done from the beginning which would have limited the amount of oil now slamming into the Gulf states and possibly the entire eastern seaboard in the coming months.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has been asking the feds for weeks to allow him to do a variety of procedures to achieve this goal. Unfortunately, he's still waiting for EPA environmental assessment reports.

Beyond this, the Obama administration at the early stages of this crisis completely ignored emergency procedures granted the White House by Congress decades ago.  

The reality is that America is likely facing its biggest non-war related catastrophe in its history, and the federal government has appeared totally inept at facing the challenge.

As a result, Americans are rightfully discouraged by what they've seen from this president the past seven weeks and counting, and the idea that Zakaria is trying to minimize this criticism is disgusting: 

ZAKARIA: This whole discussion is a terrible example of how the media can trivialize political discussion. The presidency is a serious job, the most serious job in the country. And here we are asking the man to dress the part, to play-act emotions, to give us satisfaction by just doing something even if it's all phony stuff just designed to give the impression of action. And we've managed to succeed. We've managed to force the president to cancel his trip to Asia, demean himself by trash-talking about the CEO of British Petroleum, hold lots of pointless meetings and press conferences, have admirals give make-work briefings. The federal government is now consumed with pretending it's doing something about a situation it actually can't do much about...But thank goodness the president is now talking about kicking some ass.

So what SHOULD the president be doing, Fareed? Nothing? Would you tolerate such inaction if George W. Bush was still in the White House? Would you be defending the president's lack of action and emotion if there was an "R" after his name?

The answers to those questions are certainly "No," which means that James Carville was quite right when he said about Zakaria on Thursday, "I don't think that he understands exactly what is going on down here."

That's putting it nicely, James. 

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.