ABC’s Charlie Gibson in Chicago for ‘Crushing’ Olympic Defeat; ‘Kick in the Pants' for Obama
World News host Charlie Gibson appeared bewildered on Friday as ABC broke into regular coverage to report the "stunning," crushing" news that Barack Obama had lost his bid to secure the 2016 Olympics for Chicago. The anchor reported live from the disappointed city and fretted over how this failure was a "kick in the pants for the President." Clearly, the network bought into the hype that the President would certainly convince the International Olympic Committee.
An ad on Thursday’s World News hyperbolically announced: "Tomorrow, a big day in Chicago. After a star-studded push, it’s Olympic decision day. And Charlie Gibson is there in the heart of it all. And the winner of the 2016 games is?" On Friday, a dejected Gibson announced " A crushing defeat for the city of Chicago..." As he introduced George Stephanopoulos, the anchor mourned, "A stunning result as far as the city of Chicago is concerned." Stephanopoulos, also shocked by the President’s failure agreed, "This is just stunning, Charlie."
The glum host of This Week opined, "But, for Chicago to be the lowest ranking city in this means somebody wasn't counting the votes well at all. And this will open the President up to some criticism of those who say what happened to his powers of persuasion?"
Gibson, who will now be hosting Friday’s World News in the city that lost the Olympics, seemed baffled at times. At one point, he sputtered, "George Stephanopoulos, this is a real, sort of, I guess, kind of, kick in the pants for the President."
A transcript of Thursday’s World News ad and Friday’s special live coverage, which aired at 11:25am EDT, follows:
ANNOUNCER: Tomorrow, a big day in Chicago. After a star-studded push, it’s Olympic decision day. And Charlie Gibson is there in the heart of it all. And the winner of the 2016 games is?
CHARLES GIBSON: Good day. I'm Charles Gibson, ABC News in Chicago today where the vote in Copenhagen has just been announced to this crowd. Chicago was the first of four cities to be eliminated. Chicago will not get the games in 2016. President Obama flew to Copenhagen, Mrs. Obama, a large Chicago contingent was there. And made what was considered a strong presentation. But the cities of Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro all out-polled the city of Chicago in the first ballot and Chicago has been eliminated. A crushing defeat for the city of Chicago that thought at the very least it would become one of the two final cities to be considered for the Olympics. But Chicago has been eliminated. Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo remain as possible cities. It is generally agreed the strongest presentation to the International Olympic Committee made today came from the city of Rio de Janeiro, that said our time has come. South America has never had an Olympics. You should open the entire continent to the Olympic spirit, to the Olympic games. As one of the participants said, you can open the games to 180 million passionate youngsters. So, Rio de Janeiro was thought to be, along with Chicago, one of the two favorites. It was considered the strongest competition. But now Chicago is out and you see a very, very disappointed crowd, who is gathered here in Daley Plaza in city of Chicago learning that their city has been eliminated so quickly. A stunning result as far as the city of Chicago is concerned. George Stephanopoulos, this is a real, sort of, I guess, kind of, kick in the pants for the President.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Stunning, Charlie.
GIBSON: He went over there believing that his appearance would sort of seal the deal for Chicago.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: This is just stunning, Charlie. I mean, you know, the Olympic selection process is famously opaque. But I think you're exactly right. I think there was some hope inside the White House and the president was being told that he could make the difference, that Chicago was likely to lose if he didn't come. But if he went, just as Tony Blair went to help in London a couple years ago, he could help put the United States, put Chicago over the top. But, for Chicago to be the lowest ranking city in this means somebody wasn't counting the votes well at all. And this will open the President up to some criticism of those who say what happened to his powers of persuasion?
GIBSON: Well, there really is no way to count the votes. There are 106 members of the International Olympic committee. 103 Went to Copenhagen. Various members cannot vote because cities from their countries are being considered. So there were only 94 ballots cast. And as we say, these are- these are entrenched members of the International Olympic Committee. They are hard to read. There is no way, in sort of Chicago-style politics, you can read the vote. And so this was very much up in the air. But the White house people did think the president going would seal the deal. It did not. Stunning, surprising, as we have said, Chicago eliminated in the first round. There will be no Olympics here in the year 2016. I'm Charles Gibson in Chicago taking you back to regular programming.