All three morning shows on Thursday covered Barack Obama's appearance on The Daily Show Wednesday night, but only Good Morning America's Jake Tapper stressed that comedian Jon Stewart's complaints represented the unhappy left.
Tapper recounted of Stewart: "One of America's foremost political humorists, who seems to root for the President, demonstrated one of the major problems Mr. Obama is facing in the run-up to the midterm elections, a disappointed base."
The ABC journalist played previous clips of previous Daily Show appearances to highlight the comic's past enthusiasm for Obama. In a montage, Stewart gushed, "You definitely also have a little bit of that Hollywood flair. You've certainly run a remarkable and historic race. "
In contrast, a serious Stewart on Wednesday complained to the President: "Is the difficulty that you have here, the distance between what you ran on and what you delivered?...Yet, legislatively, [the last two years have] felt timid at times." Even host George Stephanopoulos asserted this was "not the kind of love-fest [Obama] enjoyed in past visits" and added, "He came face-to-face with the frustration that so many young and liberal voters are feeling."
(Stephanopoulos was a little over the top when he claimed, "The President really got grilled by Jon Stewart." Stewart grilled CNBC's Jim Cramer. This wasn't an example of that.)
The other networks failed to portray Stewart as part of a disappointed, activist base. Early Show's Harry Smith simply observed, "So we watched The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night and we watched the President – and to show that, you know, appeals to younger people, younger voters."
On the Today Show, Meredith Vieira identified the somewhat unfriendly tone of the interview: "And while there were some lighter moments, host Jon Stewart also asked the President some tough questions about his time in office, so far. And whether he's lived up to the promises he made as a candidate." Reporter Savannah Guthrie explained, "But it was hardly a cakewalk, and at times the President faced a skeptical audience."
Yet, unlike Tapper, Today didn't describe Stewart as someone who generally "roots for the President."
A transcript of the October 28 Good Morning America segment, which aired at 7:02am EDT, follows:
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, we're going to begin with the confrontation on Comedy Central. President Obama squared off with Jon Stewart and what a sign of the times it was. Not the kind of love-fest he enjoyed in past visits. He came face-to-face with the frustration that so many young and liberal voters are feeling. Jake Tapper was watching it all. And, Jake, the President, I guess, had to go into that lion's dent, because if those voters sit Tuesday out, it's going to be a wipe out for him.
JAKE TAPPER: That's exactly right, George. White House officials say President Obama went on the show to try to make his case to any liberal skeptics and to rally young voters. But the appearance may have, instead, illustrated just how unmotivated many of the President's supporters are. On The Daily Show, President Obama came face-to-face with Jon Stewart's enthusiasm gap.
STEWART: Is the difficulty that you have here, the distance between what you ran on and what you delivered? Is that, you ran with such, if I may, audacity. So much of what you said was, great leaders lead, in a time of opportunity. We're the ones we're looking for. Yet, legislatively, it has felt timid at times.
BARACK OBAMA: Jon, I love your show.
STEWART: That's very kind of you.
OBAMA: But, but, this is something where, you know, I have a profound disagreement with you.
TAPPER: One of America's foremost political humorists, who seems to root for the president, demonstrated one of the major problems Mr. Obama is facing in the run-up to the midterm elections, a disappointed base.
STEWART: You ran on very high rhetoric, hope and change. And the Democrats this year seem to be running on, "Please, baby, one more chance." Now, what do you know that we don't know about?
STEWART: Are you planning a surprise party? Filled with jobs and health care?
TAPPER: The appearance was a far cry from previous years when Senator Obama visited the show.
STEWART [Montage of Stewart flattering Obama]: You definitely also have a little bit of that Hollywood flair. You've certainly run a remarkable and historic race.
TAPPER: This time, the President took exception with his questioner.
OBAMA: The presumption is, well, we didn't get 100 percent of what we wanted. We got 90 percent of what we wanted. So, let's focus on the 10 percent we didn't get, as opposed to the 90 percent we did.
TAPPER: And his method.
OBAMA: Now, having said that-
OBAMA: I appreciate you being polite.
STEWART: It's just really hard not to talk.
OBAMA: I know.
TAPPER: Talk that led to another punch line.
OBAMA: In fairness, Larry Summers did a heck of a job trying to figure out how to- [Audience laughs.]
STEWART: You don't want to use that phrase, dude.
TAPPER: First lady, Michelle Obama, visited Ellen to talk about military families. But she ended up talking about how her daughters deal with criticism of their father.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Fortunately, they have friends who don't make it an issue. So, I think it's been better than I would have expected.
TAPPER: On The Daily Show, the President even attempted to update his famous slogan.
STEWART: You wouldn't say you would run this time as a pragmatist. You would not- It wouldn't be yes, we can, given certain conditions.
OBAMA: No. I think what I would say is, yes, we can. But-
[Stewart starts laughing.]
OBAMA: But it is not going to happen overnight.
TAPPER: Yes, we can, but. According to a new New York Times poll, the key members of the Obama coalition are starting to defect to Republicans for the midterm cycle, George, these groups include women, Catholics, independents and less affluent Americans.