CNN's Blitzer and Vanity Fair's Orth Fawn Over Obama and His Team

Wolf Blitzer, CNN Anchor; & Maureen Orth, Vanity Fair Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgAnchor Wolf Blitzer and Vanity Fair correspondent Maureen Orth raved about the core members of the Obama administration and their pictures taken by photographer Annie Liebovitz during a segment on CNN’s Situation Room on Monday. Their conversation sounded as if the two were suddenly back in high school browsing a new yearbook. Blitzer gushed over the photos of President Obama and his wife Michelle and that of UN Ambassador Susan Rice, while Orth extolled how “they [the new administration] want a green America. They really do.”

Blitzer zeroed-in on Liebovitz’s photography at the beginning of the segment, as he introduced Orth: “...[Y]ou’ve got a new cover. It’s a pretty nice cover, about the new president of the United States....These pictures by Annie Liebovitz, the photographer, are really great pictures because it says a lot about the president, the first lady.” The two first discussed a shot of the Obamas walking outside the presidential limo on Inauguration Day, and the CNN anchor just couldn’t get enough: “[T]hey were walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. Who can forget that moment?...Look at those huge smiles....They are obviously holding hands, and very excited.” Orth replied, “Yeah, total energy. That was such an energetic day all the way around.”

Orth noted a favorite anecdote of hers as she told Blitzer about the photo of the Obama economic team: “Larry Summers told me this was an amazing moment, once in a generation, for economic policy makers and they had to take advantage of this post-inaugural period, and then Orszag said, you know, we’ve really got to make government cool again.”

Later, the Vanity Fair correspondent acknowledged how much she really liked the new “Green Team” at the White House:

BLITZER: These are the people who want to make America green.

ORTH: They’re amazing. This is -- on the left here is Professor --

BLITZER: Steven Chu.

ORTH: Who’s a Nobel prize winner from Berkeley, and he says he really wants to change people’s minds about energy use....And then if you can remember for eight years, we sort of have been told there wasn’t a climate problem, and now you have --

BLITZER: Lisa Jackson.

ORTH: Lisa Jackson on the end who says we have got to make all these issues grassroots issues.

BLITZER: She is going to be the EPA administrator.

ORTH: And they want a green America. They really do.
Barack Obama, President; & Michelle Obama, First Lady | NewsBusters.orgAt the end of the interview, Blitzer asked Orth, “What goes through your mind, looking ahead, over the next four years, maybe eight years?” She answered. “They came to play. They really want to change things....So we’ll see what happens, if they can fulfill these promises. But they’re ready to rumble.”

Earlier in the day on NBC’s Today show, Orth also played up the “green” aspect of the new administration, and lauded their big government philosophy.

The full transcript of the Bltizer/Orth segment, which concluded the 5 pm Eastern hour of Monday’s Situation Room:

WOLF BLITZER: And joining us now, Maureen Orth -- she’s the special correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine, and you’ve got a new cover. It’s a pretty nice cover, about the new president of the United States. Maureen, thanks very much for coming in.

MAUREEN ORTH, VANITY FAIR: Thank you.

BLITZER: These pictures by Annie Liebovitz, the photographer, are really great pictures because it says a lot about the president, the first lady. Let’s talk about this picture first. This is when they got out of the limo.

ORTH: Right.

BLITZER: And they were walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. Who can forget that moment?

ORTH: That’s true. They both got out and the crowd went wild, and Annie was in a truck following a little bit ahead of them, and she shot that actually from the street in Pennsylvania Avenue -- I think it was several blocks before they got to the White House, where they were going to view.

BLITZER: Look at those huge smiles.

ORTH: Yeah.

BLITZER: They are obviously holding hands, and very excited.

ORTH: Yeah, total energy. That was such an energetic day all the way around.

BLITZER: And then she did a group shot of the incoming Cabinet, at least most of them. Take a look at all of these pictures, if you go all the way to the left here -- Tom Daschle, whose nomination was a little bit of trouble [sic] as we speak right now. But you go through all the Cabinet -- how difficult was it to get all these people together in one room?

ORTH: Can you imagine -- we were getting these people and -- on some of the busiest days of their whole lives, and we actually shot several different days. We shot several people together, we stuck some people in, and what Annie does is that she has a backdrop, and then she has this wonderful assistant, Katherine McCloud, who works for Vanity Fair who is about six feet tall and stands just like the person that would be standing next to them.

BLITZER: So, in other words, not all these people were there together?

ORTH: No. We could not get -- we only got Hillary Clinton the day after the inauguration, right after her confirmation hearing, when we were despairing we were [sic] going to get the last one. But we got her.

BLITZER: And I love the picture of Susan Rice in the middle, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

ORTH: She’s a tough cookie. She was so funny. When we were taking her picture, she said to Annie, ‘If you don’t make me look good, I’m coming after you.’

BLITZER: And she’s serious about that. I know Susan Rice rather well. All right, let’s go to what you call the ‘brain trust,’ the next picture. There they are. You see David Axlerod, and Peter Rouse, Rahm Emanuel, new White House chief of staff, and Valerie Jarrett.

ORTH: They are the people that are the closest part of the inner circle. And obviously, David Axlerod, who was the chief strategist of that nearly flawless campaign; and then Rouse who was his Senate chief of staff, who’s referred to sometimes as the 101st senator; and then, of course, we have Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff, and then Valerie -- Valerie Jarrett, who is really best friend.

BLITZER: She is best friends with both of the Obamas. There is no doubt about that. All right, let’s go to the next picture, the economy team, and you see Larry Summers, the new White House chief economic advisor out there, and he’s sitting down -- Timothy Geithner, new Secretary of the Treasury.

ORTH: Yeah, and then that’s Peter Orszag, who is the secretary and manager --

BLITZER: He’s the budget director.

ORTH: Budget director, and then --

BLITZER: Christina Romer.

ORTH: Christina Romer, who is the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. And you know, Larry Summers told me this was an amazing moment, once in a generation, for economic policy makers and they had to take advantage of this post-inaugural period, and then Orszag said, you know, we’ve really got to make government cool again.

BLITZER: When Annie took the picture, all four of them, all of them were together.

ORTH: Oh, absolutely, yeah.

BLITZER: She didn’t have to cut and paste or anything like that. Let’s go to what you call the Green Team, the guy in the middle, the Former Senator Ken Salazar, who will be Secretary of the Interior.

ORTH: Right.

BLITZER: These are the people who want to make America green.

ORTH: They’re amazing. This is -- on the left here is Professor --

BLITZER: Steven Chu.

ORTH: Who’s a Nobel prize winner from Berkeley, and he says he really wants to change people’s minds about energy use. And then you have Carol Browner, who was the head of EPA. She is now the climate czar. And then if you can remember for eight years, we sort of have been told there wasn’t a climate problem, and now you have --

BLITZER: Lisa Jackson.

ORTH: Lisa Jackson on the end who says we have got to make all these issues grassroots issues.

BLITZER: She is going to be the EPA administrator.

ORTH: And they want a green America. They really do.

BLITZER: I want to show you the next one. I like to call this one the youth of America, over here. You’ve got some of the young people, the news tracking team on the left, the campaign advance team on the right. These are the kids who put it all together.

ORTH: Yeah. These guys, these guys -- nobody’s over 25 years old, and they stay up from 3 a.m. to 3 a.m., just culling all the newspapers and the TVs and the blogs and everything, and so that there can be a rapid response to whatever’s going on. And then these are the kids that are organizing the press and keeping everybody going and on the trail. I mean, these kids just have flat-out worked their hearts out.

BLITZER: And then we’ve got some more. Look at this. This is -- on the left over here, you see what we call the logistics team, including Reggie Love -- he’s the personal aide to the president. Wherever the president is, Reggie is.

ORTH: And then, of course, the president says that Reggie’s a lot cooler than he is. And then there’s Alyssa Mastromonaco, who is the scheduling person, and then --

BLITZER: Marvin Mickelson --

ORTH: Marvin Mickelson, who’s also the trips organizer. So they had to do this amazing logistics for two years for the campaign.

BLITZER: And finally, the communications team.

ORTH: Right.

BLITZER: There they are, and everybody by now is familiar with Robert Gibbs, who is all the way to the right with his arm on the podium.

ORTH: Right. And there is the young speechwriter, John Favreau, who is right down on the bottom, who is the major speechwriter. And then you have Eleanor Rand, who is the --

BLITZER: Communications director.

ORTH: The head of the communications team. And then you have

BLITZER: Dan Pfeiffer.

ORTH: Dan Pfeiffer, who’s also -- who told me that change was always the mantra, no matter what. That’s what they kept in my --

BLITZER: All right, so button this up for us. You take a look at all these people.

ORTH: Right?

BLITZER: The inner, inner circle of this new White House.

ORTH: Right?

BLITZER: What goes through your mind, looking ahead, over the next four years, maybe eight years?

ORTH: They came to play. They really want to change things. I wonder how much you can change the sort of glacial society of Washington, but they think they have been elected to make change, and they’re taking this terrible economic time we’re in and all these problems as a challenge, not something to bring them down, but something to really reverse course, and go ahead. So we’ll see what happens, if they can fulfill these promises. But they’re ready to rumble.

BLITZER: I’m sure they are. It’s going to be pretty exciting. Maureen, thanks for coming in.

ORTH: You’re welcome. Thank you.

BLITZER: And please thank Annie Liebovitz for those great pictures, too.

ORTH: Aren’t they great. Yeah, I will. Thank you.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center