ABC, NBC Continue to Play Obama's KGB Gaffe Without Noticing It's a Gaffe

ABC and NBC on Wednesday continued to pretend that one of Barack Obama's gaffes on the Tonight Show wasn't a mistake. World News's Jon Karl and Nightly News's Chuck Todd uncritically repeated the President's claim that Vladimir Putin "headed up the KGB." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] In fact, he did not. The highest rank the now-Russian President obtained was Lieutenant Colonel in 1991.

Karl introduced the clip of Obama talking to host Jay Leno, insisting, "The President vented about it all last night with Jay Leno." But he made no mention of the error. Todd used the snippet as a way of demonstrating the difference between "famously flamboyant" Putin and "buttoned down and measured Obama."

As NewsBusters reported on Wednesday, the networks also skipped Obama accidentally placing the cities of Savannah, Charleston and Jacksonville in the Gulf of Mexico and confusing the Winter Olympics with the Summer Olympics.

On that last example, Karl on Thursday's Good Morning America gently corrected the President. Karl delicately chided, "The President there was citing venues of the summer Olympics. It is obviously the winter Olympics that are coming up in Russia." However, he did not point out Obama's KGB error.

None of the networks have bothered to cover the President's geographical confusion about the Gulf of Mexico:

BARACK OBAMA: If we don't deepen our ports all along the Gulf -- places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida -- if we don't do that, those ships are going to go someplace else. And we’ll lose jobs. Businesses won’t locate here.

A transcript of the August 8 GMA segment, which aired at 7:10am ET, follows:


JOSH ELLIOTT: We're going to turn, now, to the growing freeze between the United States and Russia. A possible new chapter of a cold war heating up. We're learning this morning it was President Obama himself who canceled his summit meeting with Vladimir Putin, saying it just wasn't worth it. And ABC's Jonathan Karl is in Washington this morning with the very latest here. Jon, good morning to you.

ABC GRAPHIC: The New Cold War: Could the U.S. Boycott Winter Olympics?

JON KARL: Good morning, Josh. Well, the President's decision to cancel that summit with Vladimir Putin comes as U.S./Russian relations are at their frostiest since the Cold War. The last time Putin and Obama got together, the tension was obvious as they clashed over Syria. Now, the relationship is even worse. The last time a U.S. president canceled a planned meeting in Russia was 1960, the height of the Cold War, before even the Cuban Missile Crisis. Putin has carefully crafted his image as a Russian strongman, showing off his physique on horseback, dominating foes in the hockey rink and on the judo mat. And just last month, catching some mighty big fish. He's even perfected the art of the icy stare.

BARACK OBAMA: That seems to be his preferred style during press conferences. Sitting back and not looking too excited.

KARL: In cancelling the Moscow summit, the White House cited not only the decision to grant temporary asylum to Edward Snowden. But also, a long list of grievance on issues ranging from human rights, to trade, to global security.

JEN PSAKI (State Department): We're not afraid to make public or to state clearly where we have disagreements.

KARL: Another cloud over the Russian relationship is the country's recently passed homophobic law that outlaws talking about homosexuality in front of children or even displaying a rainbow flag in public. That has some suggesting there should be a boycott of the upcoming winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

OBAMA: If Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit then every judgment should be made on the track or in the swimming pool or on the balance beam. And people's sexual orientation shouldn't have anything to do with it.

KARL: The President there was citing venues of the summer Olympics. It is obviously the winter Olympics that are coming up in Russia. But his point was clear. As chilly as relations here are with Russia, nobody at the White House is suggesting that an Olympic boycott should be considered. That's just not on the table.

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