PBS NewsHour Paints Obama as Victim of ‘Racial Gridlock,’ Hails: ‘You’ve Been Able to Help the Country in Many Ways’

PBS’s Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill provided a tag team of Obama idolatry in their interview with President Barack Obama at the White House following Wednesday’s March on Washington anniversary event, gently pressing him from the left and treating him as a victim of racist opposition as Gwen Ifill forwarded the theory “you are a victim of partisan racial gridlock.”

When, in the session carried on the PBS NewsHour, Obama fretted “we have increasing inequality in this society,” Judy Woodruff buttered up Obama by first hailing how “you’ve been able to do -- help the country in many ways,” yet problems – remarkably – still remain, so “how much does it weigh on you that your policies haven’t made more of a difference in those areas?”

Audio: MP3 clip

Of course, not a syllable about the IRS or Benghazi or any other negative for Obama.

The PBS duo began with some questions about Syria before Woodruff pitched this softball:

Let’s turn back to where you were earlier this afternoon, the Martin Luther King anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” speech, the anniversary of the March on Washington. You have a reputation, Mr. President, for being pretty cool and detached, but standing there at the Lincoln Memorial, at the place where Dr. King stood, looking out over that big crowd, that had to be emotional. What were you thinking?

Next on the August 28 program, Ifill shared her frustration with how others dare oppose his wonderful policies:

Mr. President, as we watch the way you take actions on these things that you talk about, you take legal means, legal actions – the Attorney General is suing the state of Texas over voter ID. He’s talking about rolling back mandatory minimum sentences. And at the same time, the Supreme Court seems to be heading in the opposite direction. How do you get done what say you want to get done in leveling that playing field?

In answering, Obama suggested that “if Congress isn’t willing to pass a law, then I’ll start meeting with mayors and we’ll start meeting with governors, and we’ll start meeting with non for profits-” Ifill jumped in with the latest left-wing complaint: “Including mayors who pass things like stop and frisk?”

During another lengthy reply from Obama, he regretted “we have increasing inequality in this society and we’ve got to do something about that and we can do something about it as long as we keep our eye on the ball.” Woodruff used that as a chance to praise how Obama has helped the country so much already:

And let me just pick up on that because you did tie Dr. King’s vision to your own agenda, and you’ve been able to do -- help the country in many ways. We didn’t go into the economic abyss after the financial collapse. Wall Street’s booming. Corporations are making great profits. But as you pointed out today, average wages, the gap between wealthy and those who are not wealthy has never been bigger than it is today. The wages, especially of African Americans, haven't improved. Mr. President, how much does it weigh on you that your policies haven’t made more of a difference in those areas?

Ifill got the last inquiry and used it to relay an anti-conservative charge from a liberal historian trying to excuse Obama’s failures:

Final question, Mr. President. You said in your speech – you talked about the arc of the moral universe, quoting, the moral arc of the universe, quoting Dr. King, and you said it doesn’t bend on its own. I interviewed Taylor Branch, the civil rights historian for part of our series on the March on Washington yesterday, and one of the things he said was that you suffer – you are a victim of partisan racial gridlock. That’s the way he put it. And you talked a moment ago about that a little bit. I wonder whether you think that's true. And if so, what if anything – the first African-American President can do to break through that kind of motivated gridlock?

>> Exploitation of Taylor Branch earlier this week: “NBC’s Todd Tees Up Guest to Claim Criticism of Big Government Just Racism in Disguise” (Kyle Drennen)

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center