Uncritical John Berman: 'What the President Seems to Want Is Space' on Gay Marriage
Perhaps previewing the winking and nodding that will follow in the general election campaign, ABC's John Berman on Monday uncritically parroted the White House line on gay marriage: "What the President seems to want is space."
The Good Morning America correspondent added that the President is looking for "space to say that perhaps in a second term he might change the policy. But for it not the become major campaign issue in the next few months." Considering that Barack Obama's position on position on same sex marriage has been "evolving" for 17 months, shouldn't the White House be pressed by journalists to offer an actual opinion?
After co-anchor George Stephanopoulos noted that gay rights activists could push the issue at the Democratic convention in August, Berman regurgitated, "And that doesn't seem to be what the President wants."
The reporter reminded, "Now, up to this point, the President said he supports civil unions, not gay marriage, but that his opinion is evolving."
Berman highlighted Vice President Joe Biden's new support for gay marriage. He allowed that, in response, "you saw comments from gay rights activists who are frustrated the White House is not changing its policy."
If the Vice President is supporting gay marriage and the President is "evolving," it seems only fair for journalists to push Obama on a definitive proclamation.
After all, Mitt Romney is challenged on being wishy-washy. What does it say about a candidate who has been thinking about same sex marriage for a year and a half?
A transcript of the May 7 segment, which aired at 7:07am EDT, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn now to the official kickoff of President Obama's reelection campaign. It began, Saturday, with big rallies in Ohio and Virginia. And it continues this morning with a massive new ad buy in the battleground states. But Vice President Biden stole his share of the headlines, too, with his most revealing comments yet on gay marriage. It's your voice, your vote. And ABC's John Berman is here with all the details. Good morning, John.
JOHN BERMAN: Good morning, George. You know, the Obama team is pouring it on this morning. This is their first big-money ad buy of the campaign. Millions of dollars. But, here's the question for the President: Money can buy air time. But, can it buy him love? The President's campaign has a special delivery this morning.
OBAMA AD: Today, our auto industry is back. Firing on all cylinders. Our greatest enemy, brought to justice by our greatest heroes.
BERMAN: Millions of dollars in new campaign commercials pouring into the key battleground states that could decide this election.
OBAMA AD: You don't quit. And neither does he.
BERMAN: The President delivered that message and that new motto, forward, in person at rallies this weekend.
OBAMA [montage]: Virginia, we've got to move forward. Forward. Forward. I guarantee you, we will move this country forward.
BERMAN: Also blasting Mitt Romney as a big-money corporate raider.
OBAMA: I don't care how many ways you try and explain it: Corporations aren't people. People are people!
BERMAN: While the rallies drew thousands, there were not the overflow crowds promised by Team Obama. 14,000 at an 18,000 seat arena in Ohio. And the Romney campaign was all too happy to tweet out pictures of empty seats. The Romney team is clearly trying to say that the magic of 2008 has worn off.
MARCO RUBIO: All the thing that made him different and special four years ago are gone.
BERMAN: Meanwhile, Joe Biden raised eyebrows with his most clear, vocal support for gay marriage yet. Support that goes beyond the President's current position.
JOE BIDEN: I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, heterosexual, men marrying women, are entitled to the same, exact rights. This is evolving.
BERMAN: Now, up to this point, the President said he supports civil unions, not gay marriage, but that his opinion is evolving. The White House says the Vice President's statement was not an official change in policies. In fact, overnight, you saw comments from gay rights activists who are frustrated the White House is not changing its policy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the pressure not going to go away, John, because the supporters of gay marriage are look to put this in the Democratic platform at the convention in August.
BERMAN: And that doesn't seem to be what the President wants. What the President seems to want is space, space to say that perhaps in a second term he might change the policy. But for it not to become a major campaign issue in the next few months.