Good Morning America's Reena Ninan on Saturday let Barack Obama off easy. The ABC reporter allowed the President to escape blame for the sad story of a group of Iowa sixth graders who had their White House tour cancelled. Ninan blandly explained, "The tour canceled the result of automatic spending cuts brought on by the sequester."
Parroting Obama, she reminded, " In an interview with ABC News, the President said, don't blame him." Ninan then played a clip of the President swearing, "This was not a decision that went up to the White House." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] That comment is inaccurate and Obama was contradicted by his own White House Press Secretary on Wednesday. Good Morning America has yet to cover the discrepancy.
On Thursday, Carney shot down Obama's assertion, admitting, "The Secret Service made the decision made a decision about its budget and to withdraw personal from its tours. We had to cancel the tours. It's our job to cancel the tours."
Instead of reporting the President's culpability, Ninan played clips of sad children saying things such as "We're upset, but there's nothing we can really do about it."
ABC's avoidance of this subject shouldn't be a surprise. The network hyperventilated about the sequester cuts, warning that fiscal "armageddon" had arrived and that jobs would be "vaporized."
A transcript of the March 16 segment follows:
ABC GRAPHIC: White House Tours Cancelled: Iowa Students Shut Out
DAN ABRAMS: Now to the Iowa sixth graders who begged the White House not to let budget cuts lead to the cancellation of their tour of the executive mansion. Their pleas did not get them in, but they're in the nation's capital seeing some other sites instead and ABC's Reena Ninan caught up with them.
REENA NINAN: In a matter of hours, these kids--
CHILDREN: The White House is our house. Please let us visit!
NINAN: –likely won't be using their tickets to tour the White House. A tough lesson for even sixth graders.
GIRL #1: We're upset, but there's nothing we can really do about it.
NINAN: The tour canceled the result of automatic spending cuts brought on by the sequester.
BOY #1: I mean I get it. He has to get that done before he can let everybody in.
NINAN: As one door closed in Washington, the opposing party opened another.
JOHN BOEHNER: The Capitol is open for business.
NINAN: Republican House Speaker John Boehner to the rescue. His office granting them a special access VIP tour of the Speaker's balcony.
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: It's one of the best views in Washington D.C. Don't you think?
BOY #2: Wow. Better than the White House.
NINAN: And House chamber on Friday.
BOY #3: I thought it was a movie theater.
NINAN: Six months of raising money and this is likely the closest these 11-year-olds and 12-year-olds from Waverly, Iowa, will get to the White House. They persisted creating a Facebook page.
CHILDREN: It's up to you, America.
NINAN: In an interview with ABC News, the President said, don't blame him.
BARACK OBAMA: This was not a decision that went up to the White House.
NINAN: The Secret Service saying they can cut $74,000 a week by canceling the tours.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Now we're all here. All right, let's go.
NINAN: So, instead the students took a path rarely traveled by politicians these days, the high road.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: They've been kind. They've been respectful.
NINAN: Lessons leaders in Washington might consider taking from a few Iowa sixth graders. For Good Morning America, Reena Ninan, ABC News, Washington.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA: Ah, that gives me some optimism about our future.
ABRAMS: What a smart move by Boehner. "Can't get in the White House? Come on in. I'll show you around!"
GOLODRYGA: Tactical. I think those kids will be back at the White House at some point.
ABRAMS: I'm sure they'll eventually get there.