In 2007 Interview, ABC’s Gibson Greeted Obama With Softballs

Nearly a year ago, when the inexperienced presidential candidate Barack Obama sat for his first interview with Charles Gibson, the ABC anchor did not try and expose any gaps in Obama’s foreign policy knowledge or press him about his readiness for the job he was seeking. Instead Gibson emphasized Obama’s personal story, about how his parents met, how Obama met his wife, etc.

But just as he did with his Thursday night interview with GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Gibson did ask Obama about the “hubris” he displayed in seeking the presidency. Here’s the exchange from the November 1, 2007 World News interview:
CHARLES GIBSON: So did you think to yourself, 'Barack, what kind of hubris is this that I am thinking about being President?"

BARACK OBAMA: Yes. I think if you don't have enough self-awareness to see the element of megalomania involved in thinking you can be president, then you probably shouldn't be president. I think there's a slight madness to thinking that you should be the leader of the free world.
That’s the only similarity to Gibson’s approach to Palin. Gibson sat down with Obama only two months before the Iowa caucuses, when the Illinois Senator was running a strong second to Hillary Clinton in national polls. Yet the questions posed by Gibson at that time stuck to the same positive biographical elements that greeted Obama when he first emerged on the national stage in 2004.

Gibson could have been tougher with Obama, who had already inspired ridicule of his foreign policy acumen by suggesting he would meet hostile heads of state without preconditions.

(For details on how the big three broadcast networks showered Obama with good press during the run-up to the Democratic primaries, see the MRC’s Special Report: “Obama’s Margin of Victory: The Media.”)

Here’s the full transcript of the November 1, 2007 segment on ABC’s World News, part of a series of profiles of the leading presidential candidates:
CHARLES GIBSON: Next, the presidential race and our attempt to explore the private side of the candidates, to learn about the events and the influences that have shaped them and brought them to this point in their political careers. So today in our “Who Is?” series, a Democrat relatively new to national politics, Senator Barack Obama.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Every man is either trying to live up to his father's expectations or make up for his father's mistakes. And, you know, in some ways, I'm probably doing both.

GIBSON: Your mom comes from the Pacific Northwest, migrates to Hawaii, goes to college there, right away, meets a dashing young Kenyan, gets pregnant and the result-

OBAMA: That's me.

GIBSON: That's you. (Voiceover) His father got a fellowship to study on the mainland and never came back.

OBAMA: He became sort of a mythic figure. One, one of the great gifts that my mother gave to me was a positive impression of my father despite the fact that he didn't always behave very well towards her or to his family. And so he was gone by the time I was two.

GIBSON: Obama's mother would remarry and take her son to Indonesia for five years. Only once again did he ever see his father, that, when Obama was 10. (to Obama) He didn't care enough to stay.

OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: How did you internalize that?

OBAMA: My conclusion is that some of my drive comes from wanting to prove that he should have stuck around, that, that I was worthy of his attentions. There's no doubt that his absence had an impact on me. I engaged in a bunch of self-destructive behavior. I drank. I, you know, tried drugs. I didn't take my schoolwork seriously.

GIBSON: It all changed for Obama in his final college years. (to Obama) What flipped?

OBAMA: I like to think that, that at some point, the, the better angels of my nature took control and that I had some sense deep inside me that, you know, I could, I could make a contribution.

GIBSON: For five years out of college, he worked to pay off student loans and was a community organizer in Chicago, which led him back to school, Harvard Law School, and on a summer job, met this young woman. (to Obama) Did you know right away?

OBAMA: I knew I liked her right away. Michelle has this wonderful sense of humor. And I knew that right away, she would get the joke. She knew how I looked at the world and appreciated it.

GIBSON: They have two daughters, Malia and Sasha. At first, Obama was intimidated by the Harvard law students.

OBAMA: You got a sense, these folks are running on nuclear energy and I'm running on, on steam.

GIBSON: But he found he could more than hold his own, finishing first in his class and being editor of the 'Harvard Law Review." He's candid: it was at Harvard he first thought of running for President.

OBAMA: I thought these will be the people who will be leading at some point. And, you know, I feel comfortable within this group, being able to lead.

GIBSON: So did you think to yourself, 'Barack, what kind of hubris is this that I am thinking about being President?"

OBAMA: Yes. I think if you don't have enough self-awareness to see the element of megalomania involved in thinking you can be president, then you probably shouldn't be president. I think there's a slight madness to thinking that you should be the leader of the free world.

GIBSON: You have written, "I learned to slip back and forth between my black and my white worlds." The simple question I guess is in which world do you really belong?

OBAMA: I think it's both. What's interesting is, is how deeply American I feel, considering this exotic background, that, somehow, all this, this amalgam is part of who I am. And that's part of the reason I love this country so much.

GIBSON: And you can see extended versions of our "Who Is?" series, which will ultimately include all the presidential candidates, at ABCNEWS.com.
Rich Noyes
Rich Noyes
Rich Noyes is the Senior Editor for Newsbusters