ABC Falls in Line, Touts Obama 'Charm Offensive' Effort With Congress

On Sunday's Reliable Sources, the CNN panelists laughed at how "easily the press corps is manipulated" by White House spin over "reaching out" to congressional Republicans. On Tuesday's Good Morning America, the show's journalists fit this description perfectly. GMA co-host George Stephanopoulos enthused, "But we're going to turn to Washington where President Obama takes his charm offensive to Capitol Hill. Today, his latest personal diplomacy to get Republicans and Democrats to strike a deal on the budget." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

An ABC graphic promoted, "Obama's 'Charm' Showdown." Later in the show, fill-in news reader John Muller parroted, "We begin with President Obama's so-called charm offensive, the first of three trips this week to Capitol Hill." 

On Sunday's Reliable Sources, Dana Milbank scoffed, "So, the President takes a few senators out to dinner at the Jefferson Hotel and has lunch with Paul Ryan, and suddenly, he's reaching out and there's all these efforts to have Kumbaya. He's had two meals."

Stephanopoulos on Tuesday offered such a critique: "But after the President's dinner last week with Republican senators, some did seem to suggest they might be open to having some new revenues, that the President would also come around with more reforms and the big entitlement programs."

On Sunday, GMA co-host Bianna Golodryga praised the President for "wining and dining" the GOP.

Stephanopoulos on Sunday was slightly more grounded, admitting that, for Obama, "there's no other option but to try to build these relationships and see what can come of it.

A transcript of the March 12 segment follows:


ABC GRAPHIC: Obama's "Charm" Showdown: Set to Take on Top Republicans on Budget

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But we're going to turn to Washington where President Obama takes his charm offensive to Capitol Hill. Today, his latest personal diplomacy to get Republicans and Democrats to strike a deal on the budget. ABC's Jon Karl is at the White House and, Jon, the President reaching out, but both parties also drawing lines in the sand. We have that new Republican budget coming from Paul Ryan.

JON KARL: Yeah, in a sign of just how much work there is to be done, Paul Ryan's budget is going to have almost nothing that Democrats like. It does balance the budget in ten years without any tax increases, George, but we're talking deep spending cuts, even deeper than the sequester and he repeals the President's health care law. So, obviously a nonstarter with Democrats, but, George, then watch tomorrow. Senate Democrats will have their own budget. It's going to include big tax increases and no balance. So, really, the two sides just as far apart as ever when it comes to their budget.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But after the President's dinner last week with Republican senators, some did seem to suggest they might be open to having some new revenues, that the President would also come around with more reforms and the big entitlement programs. Do you get a sense of any common ground developing?

KARL: Well, a little bit, George. I don't want to overstate it, but I have to tell you, I've heard Republicans, senior Republicans, real conservatives, actually for the first time in a long time saying things that are fairly positive about the President. One Senate Republican called it tremendously sincere, this outreach so we'll see. Obviously a big mountain to climb here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, Jon, thanks very much and I'll be heading to Washington in just a bit to sit down with President Obama. That exclusive interview will air tonight on World News, with more tomorrow on GMA and Nightline.

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