ABC's George Stephanopoulos Fawns Over Obama's 'Law Seminar'

ABC's George Stephanopoulos appeared on Wednesday's "Good Morning America" to laud Barack Obama's "confident" Tuesday night press conference as reminiscent of a "law seminar." The "This Week" host then cooed, "The President used to be a law professor." He enthused, "I would say overall, though, a good performance, about an A-." (As noted by the MRC's Brent Baker, Stephanopoulos also appeared on Tuesday's "Nightline" and offered the A- grade to both the President and the press coverage of the event.)

On Wednesday's GMA, he spoke to co-host Robin Roberts and praised, "Well, I thought the President was confident as he always is, Robin, and very straight. You didn't see a lot of laughter that we saw on Jay Leno." 

The former Democratic aide-turned journalist has developed a pattern of giving Obama top marks. Appearing on the February 9 "Nightline" to offer a "report card" for the President's first prime time press conference, he awarded Obama "an A for overall performance at the event and a B for Obama's bipartisan efforts." During the presidential campaign, Stephanopoulos declared the then-candidate the winner over John McCain in every debate between the two.

On GMA, the journalist mimicked the cheery, optimistic tone that Obama is now adopting. Reciting economic information, he rattled off elements of a potential silver lining: "Credit is starting to flow, and the banks have been profitable at least for the first couple months of this year. The homeowners plan, we're seeing a tripling of refinancing over the last couple of months and mortgage rates are near historic lows right now, so that's good news." "That is some sign of progress," Stephanopoulos added. Of course, during the Bush administration, many ABC reporters were constantly looking for the downside of any positive news.

A transcript of the March 25 segment, which aired at 7:03am, follows:

ROBIN ROBERTS: And now for the bottom line, we turn to our chief Washington correspondent and host, of course, of "This Week," George Stephanopoulos. You were watching closely last night, George. How did the President do?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I thought the President was confident as he always is, Robin, and very straight. You didn't see a lot of laughter that we saw on Jay Leno. It was much more like a law seminar. The President used to be a law professor. But, he was focused on the job he had to do last night, which is to sell this economic strategy. And that's why he was focused on pointing out some of the progress that's been made over the last several weeks and then to push that budget that the President came back to again and again and again over the course of the budget and it's four pillars, health care, energy, education and reducing the deficit. As Jake pointed out, he is facing a lot of flak on Capitol Hill from Democrats and Republicans on that budget and he tried to push back. I would say overall, though, a good performance, about an A-

ROBERTS: About- And the right tone, do you think?

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think so. I think it was right for the President to be straight last night. A little bit stern. You know, that can come off as flat to some people but I think for this subject, it was appropriate.

ROBERTS: All right. It's all about the money so let's break down the agenda. The four major components. $700 billion to bail out the banks. 275 billion to help homeowners, a 787 billion stimulus package and up to $1 trillion to eliminate toxic assets. Now, which parts, George, are working, and which do you think are not?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, a lot is out there, Robin, as you know. And most of these programs are just beginning so you can't reach a final grade in any way but if you look at the money to the bank, they are starting to lend again. Credit is starting to flow, and the banks have been profitable at least for the first couple months of this year. The homeowners plan, we're seeing a tripling of refinancing over the last couple of months and mortgage rates are near historic lows right now, so that's good news. That is some sign of progress. On the stimulus package, again, it's early but the tax credits in the stimulus package, a lot of experts say, are behind some of this increase in home sales. We saw over the last month and we are seeing some of the other programs like the clean energy programs allow businesses to bring people back to work. The jury is completely out on what to do about those legacy assets and the toxic assets, whether or not that's going to work. The key test for that, Robin, will be next month when the first bids for those assets go out and we see if the bankers and the hedge funds and private investors can agree on a price.

ROBERTS: Right. Yeah, we'll watch out for that for sure. You know, the President took some heat last night for all this spending. Did he do anything to quiet the critics?

STEPHANOPOULOS: He did make some concessions last night, Robin, as I said. He's facing opposition from both Republicans and Democrats on his budget and one of the things you saw in response to Jake's question last night is the President started to signal if the Democrats in the Congress are only going to fund his middle class tax cut for a couple of years, he doesn't like it but he is likely to accept it. The same thing with some of his energy plans. So, I saw a note of realism from President Obama last night. He knows he's not going to be get everything he called for and he started to signal that last night.

ROBERTS: Yeah and he's heading to Capitol Hill today. George, as always, thanks for the bottom line.

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