ABC's George Stephanopoulos Marvels That Obama Is 'Largely Escaping Blame' for Oil Spill

Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Friday cited a new poll and marveled to viewers that Barack Obama "is largely escaping blame for his handling of the [oil spill] crisis." (Note the passive way he framed that sentence.)

Reporter Jake Tapper discussed the government's reaction to the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. He proclaimed, "[Obama] is said to be angry and disappointed, not just at the delay, not just the fact that there are obviously steps that could be taken to help prevent this, but he's very disappointed about the finger-pointing that went on between all the corporations involved."

Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic operative turned journalist, touted White House spin: "But, the White House is frustrated because there's not much more the government can do. They sent everybody resource they have down there."

Left undiscussed was the early response by the administration and the fact that Obama waited 12 days to visit Louisiana. Journalists certainly did not allow George W. Bush to "escape blame" for Hurricane Katrina.

Instead, Tapper alerted viewers to how "disappointed" the President was: "He's been disappointed to find that, for instance, that the same division of the government that collects royalties for these drilling sites is also the same part that ensures enforcement of regulations."

Obama has been in office for a year and four months. Does being surprised to find something out still count as an excuse that reporters will still accept?

Turning to another subject, Stephanopoulos once again promoted the idea that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan couldn't be stopped. He wondered, "Let's turn to the Elena Kagan nomination for the Supreme Court. We're about a week in, a little bit less. Does the White House see hurdles ahead?"

On Thursday, the host theorized, "But, you know, the White House has this 48-hour rule, saying that the nominations are won and loss in the first 48 hours. Is this one already over?"

It may be very likely that Kagan will be confirmed. But, less than a week in, is it really Stephanopoulos' job to constantly push this talking point?

A transcript of the May 14 segment, which aired at 7:06am EDT, follows:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So far, President Obama is largely escaping blame for his handling of the crisis. A new poll shows more Americans approve of the way he's handled the crisis than don't. As Robin said, he'll be addressing the crisis later this morning. So, let's bring in Jake Tapper right now. And the President will be tough today. Acknowledging

JAKE TAPPER: He will. He is said to be angry and disappointed, not just at the delay, not just the fact that there are obviously steps that could be taken to help prevent this, but he's very disappointed about the finger-pointing that went on between all the corporations involved. BP, TransOcean, and Halliburton at a congressional hearing earlier this week.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, the White House is frustrated because there's not much more the government can do. They sent everybody resource they have down there.

TAPPER: That's exactly right. Although, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has proposed some changes to the federal agency, the MMS, the Mineral Management Services. And the President is said to support those. He's been disappointed to find that, for instance, that the same division of the government that collects royalties for these drilling sites is also the same part that ensures enforcement of regulations. And that's going to be separated under the new rule. But, the President said to be disappointed that's the status quo.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay. Let's turn to the Elena Kagan nomination for the Supreme Court. We're about a week in, a little bit less. Does the White House see hurdles ahead?

TAPPER: Not as of now. There's no one I've spoken to, including Republicans on Capitol Hill that thinks Elena Kagan will not be confirmed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, meanwhile, there has been this raging debate, really, across the internet about Elena Kagan's private life. See some of the headlines right here. [Graphics appear onscreen.] "Don't Bork Kagan." "So, is she gay?" "Elena Kagan's sexual orientation sparks debate." "From softball to Bridget Jones." And it's actually forced the White House to say a little more than they wanted to. Anita Dunn, the White House adviser, former White House adviser and the Washington Post this morning saying that administration officials actually did ask Kagan directly about her sexual orientation when she was being vetted for solicitor general. She said she was straight. And this put the White House in kind of a weird situation. They don't believe this is relevant or the question should be asked.

TAPPER: That's right. And they think it's a strange enough debate, given the importance of this job and the constitutional issues, to ask Kagan about if she were a lesbian. But the fact she's not a lesbian, according to all of her friends, makes it bizarre and difficult for the White House to deal with. How do you shoot down something that people are out there saying, "Is Kagan a Martian?" No. She's not a Martian. But people are debating it. And we're on tv talking about it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do they think they have to do more on this?

TAPPER: As of now, no. They shot it down when it's appeared. They've talked to people about it. But, it is an issue they're obviously going to have to deal with just 'cause the media now is writing about whether or not we should be writing about it.

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