Amidst Journalistic Fluff, Barack Obama Gets a Tough Question...From an Ex-Football Player

Much of the network coverage on the Veterans Affairs scandal has been light on questioning Barack Obama. It took former football player Michael Strahan to come up with a tougher query for the President. During an interview on Live With Kelly and Michael, Strahan lectured, "But a lot of the soldiers haven't been given the treatment, veterans, that they should have got when they come home." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] 

Strahan continued, "And there's been calls for resignations and Shinseki... says he's not going to resign. Do you think that he should and if he doesn't, would you be inclined to remove him?" (Just hours after the interview aired, Eric Shinseki quit as head of the VA.) Obama first shifted topics, insisting, "Well, let me first say that the greatest honor I have is serving as commander in chief." 

After several minutes, he got around to Shinseki: 

OBAMA: Eric Shinseki is an American hero, a wounded vet, somebody who led our troops during very difficult times and cares about veterans more than just about anybody I know. He's going to report back to me on what he's seen and I'll have a serious conversation with him about whether he thinks that, you know, he is prepared and has the capacity to take on the job of fixing it because I don't want any veteran to not be getting the kind of services that they deserve.

To be sure, the interview contained plenty of softballs. Strahan wondered, "Do you get more white hair from what you do here as president or dealing with teenage daughters?" Co-host Kelly Ripa gushed, "Who would you better on Dancing With the Stars? You or Mrs. Obama?" 

However, CBS on Thursday morning investigated the VA scandal without mentioning Obama's name.   On Wednesday's Nightly News Kelly O'Donnell's discussion of White House culpablility amounted to this: "From the White House, NBC's Kristen Welker reports the President considers Secretary Shinseki to be on probation." 

The last White House briefing by the President (before today) was May 2. One would think that journalists would object to entertainment journalists getting a 17 minute interview. However, ABC's Good Morning America eagerly promoted the interview on Friday. Co-host George Stephanopoulos played the Shinseki clip and one of Obama praising Hillary Clinton. 

A partial transcript of the May 30 interview is below: 


Sample questions: 

KELLY RIPA: What do you do by 10am? 

MICHAEL STRAHAN: You seem to have the toughest job in the world, but what makes – and I'm interested in hearing your opinion – but what makes a great president? 

STRAHAN: We know that Sasha is becoming a teenage next week. Do you get more white hair from what you do here as president or dealing with teenage daughters?

RIPA: I feel like in a lot of ways, she [Michelle Obama] has taken on a very maternal role with our nation's children. So that must make you very proud. 

RIPA: Ten years from now, if Mrs. Obama turns to you and announces that she wants to run for office, what would your honest reaction be? 

RIPA: Who would you better on Dancing With the Stars? You or Mrs. Obama? 

...

MICHAEL STRAHAN: Now this week, you announced the end of the war in Afghanistan and all the troops are going to be coming home. Now, as a son of a retired military major, I mean, I appreciate that. But a lot of the soldiers haven't been given the treatment, veterans, that they should have got when they come home. And there's been calls for resignations and Shinseki, Mr. Shinseki. He says he's not going to resign. Do you think that he should and if he doesn't, would you be inclined to remove him? 

BARACK OBAMA: Well, let me first say that the greatest honor I have is serving as commander in chief. The more I see our military -- I was just at West Point yesterday. Seeing newly commissioned officers coming out of there. And they are so dedicated, so patriotic, so smart. You see young leaders up in war theaters taking charge of -- and responsibility for such big decisions, life or death decisions. They've earned, not just our respect, but they've earned our support when they come home. 

...

OBAMA: Eric Shinseki is an American hero, a wounded vet, somebody who led our troops during very difficult times and cares about veterans more than just about anybody I know. He's going to report back to me on what he's seen and I'll have a serious conversation with him about whether he thinks that, you know, he is prepared and has the capacity to take on the job of fixing it because I don't want any veteran to not be getting the kind of services that they deserve.

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