ABC's Robin Roberts Hits Pelosi From Left on Guns

Interviewing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts challenged the Democratic politician from the left on guns. After bringing up the tragic shootings that occurred last week in New York and Pittsburgh, Roberts quizzed, "Under the Bush administration, you pretty much said the ball was in their court when it came to reinstating the [assault weapons] ban. Now, it's a Democratic President, a Democratic House. So, is the ball in your court where this is concerned?"

After noting that the shooter in Pennsylvania feared that President Obama would reinstate the assault weapons ban, Roberts wondered, "And how do you reconcile that with the work that you have to do in trying to stem these types of surges in gun purchases?"

On another subject, co-host Diane Sawyer teased the Pelosi segment with an oddly phrased intro. She asserted, "And conservatives attack President Obama for reaching out to Muslims on his trip to Turkey." Now, many conservatives have accused the President of being too accommodating in his overseas trip, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has attacked Obama for showing weakness, but neither Sawyer, nor Roberts explained which conservative is slamming Obama for "reaching out to Muslims."

Roberts, to her credit, did challenge Speaker Pelosi with the words of Gingrich. She repeated, "Newt Gingrich said this about that [the missile launch in North Korea]. He said, quote, 'It was a vivid demonstration of weakness in foreign policy.' And he went on to say that the U.S. is under greater risk of attack under President Obama than President Bush. How do you respond to that?"

On a lighter note, Roberts closed the interview by promoting Pelosi's book, "Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters." She enthused, "It's been a bestseller." Currently, the book ranks 288,079 at Amazon and also made a splash in its first week in release for selling just 2,737 copies.

A transcript of the April 7 segment, which aired at 7:14, follows:

7am tease

DIANE SAWYER [ABC Graphic: America Less Safe?]: And conservatives attack President Obama for reaching out to Muslims on his trip to Turkey. We ask Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi about this new war of words. She's here live.

7:14

ROBIN ROBERTS: And now, with the President poised to wrap up his inaugural trip abroad, we're joined this morning by the highest-ranking woman in the history of American politics and the author of the best seller "Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters." Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Madam Speaker, thank you for being with us this morning. Let's talk a little bit about the President's speech.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI: Good morning, Robin. Yes.

ROBERTS: And we heard in Jake Tapper's report from Istanbul, David Axelrod jokingly saying that the expectations from the President that people thought he was going to part the skies and sunshine and all that. But, there were realistic expectations that he had about the strategy in Afghanistan, about getting European countries onboard with their stimulus packages. Moderate progress with that is concerned [sic], on those two, major fronts. What did he make progress with?

PELOSI: Well, I think he made tremendous progress on changing the opinion of the world about America. I sadly see your coverage of the earthquake in Italy. When I called President Berlusconi yesterday to extend the sympathies of the American people and of the Congress of the United States, after he gave me his view of what was happening in the earthquake site, he took the time to talk about how successful President Obama's visit was to Europe. That he was well-received And that he started a new conversation about America and its role in the world. So, that was part of the agenda, as well. In terms of the specifics, he made change. He made a difference. And it's a good start.

ROBERTS: But, he did meet some criticism, especially North Korea, which has been in the news. And the President's response to the missile launch there. Newt Gingrich said this about that. He said, quote, "It was a vivid demonstration of weakness in foreign policy." And he went on to say that the U.S. is under greater risk of attack under President Obama than President Bush. How do you respond to that?

PELOSI: Well, I don't respond to that. What I do say, though, is that what President Obama did was very strong. It showed the strength and the confidence of saying we should move toward reducing the- all the nuclear weapons in the world. This is the path that our country has been on for a long time. It is what he said during the campaign. And it, rather than an arms race, is the answer to making the world a safer place. And it is the appropriate attitude to have vis-a-vis, North Korea. We certainly have to focus in a general way, an international, global response, to North Korea or any other country that wants to develop a nuclear weapon. We cannot go in that direction. The new direction of President Obama is the strong one.

ROBERTS: Let's bring it back here at home for a moment. There's so many issues on people's minds. This past weekend, and the past week, we've seen a lot of mass shootings.

PELOSI: Yes.

ROBERTS: And the shooter in Pennsylvania, he was stated as saying that part of the reason why he purchased the AK-47, that he feared that under the Obama administration, that you would reinstate the assault weapon ban. And how do you reconcile that with the work that you have to do in trying to stem these types of surges in gun purchases?

PELOSI: Clearly, this is a sick person. So, whatever excuse he uses for his behavior is about that sickness. But, it's important to note that since March 10th to April 5th, 53 people have been the victims of gun violence in our country. Four officers in Oakland, California. But the experience in New York more recent, and even many more people killed. We have to have answers to this. We have to find some level of compromise. Right now, we have the debate in Congress over the District of Columbia, wanting a vote on the floor of the House, something we all want. That's a civil rights issue. And yet, they want to put a gun- a draconian gun bill- attach that to that. I don't think that that should be the price is to pay to have a vote on the floor of the House. But we have to find some middle ground.

ROBERTS: Under the Bush administration, you pretty much said the ball was in their court when it came to reinstating the ban. Now, it's a Democratic President, a Democratic House. So, is the ball in your court where this is concerned?

PELOSI: Yes, it is. And we are just going to have to work together to come to some resolution because the court, in the meantime, in recent months, the Supreme Court has ruled in a very- in a direction that gives more opportunity for people to have guns. We never denied that right. We don't want to take their guns away. We want them registered. We don't want them crossing state lines as this legislation would do in the District of Columbia. We wouldn't tell any other state what to do. But Congress wants to tell the District of Columbia. So, in any event, there's tremendous work ahead on this. And we have to rid the debate of the misconceptions that people have about what gun safety means.

ROBERTS: The final question, "Know Your Power," is now in paperback. It's been a bestseller. 22 percent of the world's leaders are American- are women around the world. 70 percent here in the U.S. And you say mothers, young mothers, can take a difference.

PELOSI: Yes, indeed. And one of the reasons I'm spending a couple of days on this, is that we really need more women in government in our country. Nothing is more wholesome than the fuller participation of women. And I want to reach out in my book, give some guidance how I went from housewife, to House Speaker.

ROBERTS: That-

[Abrupt cut to commercial. End of segment.]

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