ABC's David Wright Urges Viewers to Feel Obama's Pain

ABC reporter David Wright, a well known fan of Barack Obama, filed a report on Wednesday's "Good Morning America" in which he urged viewers to sympathize with how difficult it must have been for the senator to finally break with his controversial pastor. The journalist mournfully announced, "For Obama, whose own father abandoned him as a child, this must have been another painful break."

Rather than wonder why Obama repeatedly stood by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a man who absurdly claimed that the United States created the AIDS virus, (reporter) Wright lobbied for Americans to realize what a "big deal" the break was for the Obama campaign. He justified, "Imagine having to publicly denounce the minister who married you, who baptized your kids, who prayed with you the day you announced your candidacy for president."

Now, after being prompted by GMA guest host Charlie Gibson, Wright did acknowledge the obvious reason as to why Obama separated from his minister: "Well, cynically, you can say he slipped nine points in the polls. Hillary Clinton has surged and Obama is struggling to win over the white working class voters..." But (reporter) Wright also appeared to be following the template of spinning the controversy to Obama's benefit.

On Wednesday, he claimed the presidential candidate had "little choice" but to break with the reverend and pointed out some of Reverend Wright's extreme statements: "For instance, Wright suggested America had it coming on 9/11 and that AIDS was a genocidal plot." However, just last week, on April 25, the ABC correspondent portrayed Wright as "soft-spoken" and patriotic. He asserted that many of his comments were "taken out of context." Now that Obama has discarded his former preacher, it appears as though David Wright will be dropping his defensive reporting of the minister.

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:02am on April 30, follows:

CHARLES GIBSON: We're going to begin with the race for 2008 and this defining moment, or could be a defining moment, in his campaign, Senator Barack Obama's public denunciation yesterday of his longtime pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. And ABC's David Wright has the latest on that down in Washington. David, Good morning.

ABC's David Wright: NewsBusters.orgDAVID WRIGHT: Morning, Charlie. Even for a generation that grew up believing that the personal is political, there's no precedent for this. Barack Obama has disowned his pastor, the man with whom he shared some of the most important moments of his life. And no matter what you think of the Reverend Wright, this is a big deal for the Obama campaign, but also you have to believe for Barack Obama as a person. Imagine having to publicly denounce the minister who married you, who baptized your kids, who prayed with you the day you announced your candidacy for president.

SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Obviously whatever relationship I had with Reverend Wright relationship has changed as a consequence of this.

DAVID WRIGHT: Wright left Obama little choice. Wright's appearance Monday at the National Press Club was, in Obama's words, a spectacle.

OBAMA: It was more than just him defending himself. What became clear to me was that he was presenting a world view that, that contradicts who I am and what I stand for.

DAVID WRIGHT: For instance, Wright suggested America had it coming on 9/11 and that AIDS was a genocidal plot.

JEREMIAH WRIGHT: I believe our government is capable of doing anything.

DAVID WRIGHT: Just last month, Obama rejected Wright's most controversial ideas but embraced the man.

OBAMA: As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me.

DAVID WRIGHT: So, Wright assumed that meant Obama didn't really object.

JEREMIAH WRIGHT: He had to distance himself because he's a politician.

DAVID WRIGHT: For Obama, that seems to have clinched it.

OBAMA: Reverend Wright thinks that that's political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn't know me very well and based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought either.

DAVID WRIGHT: For Obama, whose own father abandoned him as a child, this must have been another painful break.

OBAMA: I will talk to him, perhaps, some day in the future, but, you know, I do not see that relationship being the same after this.

DAVID WRIGHT: Obama essentially had to choose between his pastor and presidential ambitions. He hasn't yet said whether he's going to quit the church but, Charlie, you have got to figure there's a lot of folks in that congregation who have fond feelings for the Reverend Wright.

CHARLES GIBSON: David, I'm curious, you cover the campaign every day and Barack Obama has been very measured since that Philadelphia speech that he gave six weeks ago on race. Very measured in his criticisms of Pastor Wright and I'm curious what flipped him, because, because the pastor didn't really say anything that he didn't say before. So what changed in Barack Obama?

DAVID WRIGHT: Well, cynically, you can say he slipped nine points in the polls. Hillary Clinton has surged and Obama is struggling to win over the white working class voters but, also, this appearance wasn't just a bunch of scattered sound bites over 20 years of sermons. This was kind of the cliff notes of controversy, all in one day, all of it in context and Obama simply had to confront it.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org