CBS White House correspondent Chip Reid took his Friday night cheering routine for Barack Obama’s "command performance" at the GOP meeting in Baltimore and repeated it on Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN. "The president realy did wallop them there," he insisted. "The Republicans were fighting them with one hand, maybe both hands, tied behind their back."
HOWARD KURTZ: How is it that the cameras stayed only on the president and we didn't get to actually see the Republican members of Congress that were asking those questions?
REID: Well, I think in many ways, the president really did wallop them there. I think the White House feels that way, and it was because the Republicans were fighting with one hand, maybe both hands, tied behind their back.
First of all, they were not on camera asking the questions. It was just a disembodied voice, at least in the live version, because they didn't have it set up so they could have two live cameras at the same time. It was just a technical thing. Later, we used the questions in my Evening News piece, for example. But if you were watching it live, it was like the president alone was up there.
KURTZ: Up on Mount Olympus.
REID: Exactly. And they would ask the question. And they're in no more "you lie" moment mode right now. The Republicans are back off from that. They are not in a position to -- they wanted so badly to say that's nonsense, or you know that's not true, to fight back, but they couldn't because of the format. So, basically what happened, whatever sports metaphor you want to use, mine is that they would ask a question, then the Republican defense would leave the field and Obama would run for a touchdown because they couldn't fight back.
Kurtz also played a clip of Obama in his State of the Union address attacking TV pundits: "The more the TV pundits reduce serious debates to silly arguments, big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away." That sounds like an attack on the talk-TV titans, but Kurtz suggested to Reid he was being attacked, and Reid said he would accept the criticism, since some of it’s justified:
KURTZ: Look, the president, Chip Reid, went after Republicans, the Supreme Court, sitting right there, but also used your airwaves and CNN's airwaves, everybody's airwaves, to go after the likes of you. Were you offended?
REID: Oh, not at all. That's part of the game. I would expect him to, and some of it's justified.
KURTZ: I can't recall hearing the media be a target in a State of the Union speech before. Maybe sometimes.
REID: That may be true, but he certainly has targeted -- he targeted me personally at a town hall once. He saw me off to the side and he basically made that same attack, and said, "Right, Chip?" And the whole audience turned and looked at me. Unfortunately, I wasn't in a position to defend myself or my profession. At that time, anyway.