ABC anchor Diane Sawyer on Tuesday interviewed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for World News and Nightline, but offered no questions about the Obama administration's failure to seek congressional approval for air strikes in Libya. Instead, the journalist seemed fascinated by the decision-making process, repeatedly asking about Clinton's "decisive" role in going ahead with the bombing.
Sawyer quizzed, "We have read, repeatedly, that you were decisive in this. Did you persuade President Obama? Was yours the voice that turned around the opponents?" The intrigued World News anchor followed-up by asking if Secretary of Defense Robert Gates "opposed" her.
A vague Clinton prompted Sawyer to press, "So, you're not going to characterize yourself in the hierarchy?" Two parts of the interview aired on World News. A replay aired on Nightline. In all of this, Sawyer never wondered about Obama bypassing Congress. This was a topic journalists were keenly interested when it related to George W. Bush and Iraq.
Sawyer did find time to gossip, querying, "A quick and final personal question. You have indicated that should the President be re-elected, that you will not be secretary of state any longer. Will you stay until the election?"
A transcript of the second World News, which aired at 6:39pm EDT on March 22, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: And now, more of our interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Earlier, I spoke with her about that rescue. Your heart stopped for a minute?
HILLARY CLINTON: Oh, it did. As you might guess.
SAWYER: Her heart stopped before she realized they were all right. But we also had a chance to sit down and talk about how long the operation will go on in Libya, will it be as promised, just a matter of days, not weeks, as the President promised? So, I asked her, would it be on the anniversary of the one week, Saturday, before Monday? It will be one week on Saturday, will it happen by Saturday?
CLINTON: Well, it will be days. Whether it's by Saturday or not depends upon the evaluation made by our military commanders, along with our allies and partners. I hope it will be sooner instead of later.
SAWYER: You might even think this weekend?
CLINTON: I think it's moving well. From our assessment, and, you know, we do a call every day-
SAWYER: Will it be NATO?
CLINTON: That is still being worked out.
SAWYER: Might be something outside NATO but with NATO assets and coordination?
CLINTON: That is also being looked at but NATO will be definitely involved.
SAWYER: Moammar Gadhafi. Will this intervention be a success if he's still in power?
CLINTON: Well, I think we have to separate the two sides of the equation, if you will. The United Nations Security Council resolution was very broad, but explicit, about what was legally authorized by the international community.
SAWYER: Are you saying you're confident the end result will be that he's out?
CLINTON: No, I don't want to make any predictions, because- we're taking this one step at a time. I mean I don't want to jump beyond where we are right now.
SAWYER: We have read, repeatedly, that you were decisive in this. Did you persuade President Obama? Was yours the voice that turned around the opponents?
CLINTON: That is absolutely, you know, I think, part of a storyline that needs to be corrected soon and decisively. There was a broad debate and discussion within the administration and that's-
SAWYER: Secretary Gates opposed, we were told?
CLINTON: Well, I'm not going to characterize anybody's opinion. You know, I think it was a very thoughtful process.
SAWYER: So, you're not going to characterize yourself in the hierarchy?
CLINTON: No, I'm not going to characterize anyone because it was a decision that was made and the decision speaks for itself.
SAWYER: A quick and final personal question. You have indicated that should the President be re-elected, that you will not be secretary of state any longer. Will you stay until the election?
CLINTON: Oh, I will stay until the beginning of the next term, because I know it takes awhile for people to get, you know, appointed and confirmed. I mean, obviously, there needs to be a seamless transition with whomever President Obama decides to appoint after he is re-elected, which I am confident he will be.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.