Journalist George Stephanopoulos and ABC's Diane Sawyer rhapsodized over Barack Obama's Middle East trip on Tuesday's "Good Morning America." Stephanopoulos swooned that the visit to the region was going "better than they could have imagined in the Obama campaign." He then proceeded to narrate footage of the Democratic candidate.
[Audio available here]
While video of Obama playing basketball with troops in Kuwait appeared onscreen, Stephanopoulos fawned as Obama made a shot, "...How much better can you get than that? Look at that. Right in the hoop on the first try." Agreeing, Sawyer cooed, "How sweet." With no apparent sense of irony, Sawyer, the GMA co-host, also brought up the complaints that the media have uncritically covered the trip. After playing a clip of a McCain appearance with George H.W. Bush, in which the former president joked that the candidate is "a little jealous" of all the attention Obama is getting, Stephanopoulos agreed: "[McCain] is a little jealous."
He added, "They are frustrated in the McCain camp, as you could imagine. Because you have got so much coverage of Obama's trip here. But this trip is unprecedented right now."
Of course, if the McCain camp is jealous, perhaps it might have more to do with the fact that Obama receives excited narration over such things as his basketball skills.
Discussing the comment by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that seemed to endorse Obama's call for timetables, Stephanopoulos asserted, "Events are really conspiring to help Senator Obama here." After mentioning the fact that a top member of the State Department met with Iran's nuclear regulator, the "This Week" anchor hopefully observed, "And, remember, Diane, all Obama has to do on national security is blur the distinctions, fight John McCain to a tie, then you get to issues where the Democrats and Obama have a big advantage."
A transcript of the July 22 segment, which aired at 7:06am, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: Joining us live now for the bottom line-- in serious need of it this morning, George-- it's chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Hey, Diane,
SAWYER: So, how has the trip gone? How has he done?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Better than they could have imagined in the Obama campaign. Look at the pictures. [Pictures of Obama appear onscreen.] You saw some of them in Jake's piece just right now. But, look at these pictures. General Petraeus and Barack Obama. There they are in the helicopter yesterday touring over Iraq. You also have those pictures of him in Kuwait playing basketball with the enlisted troops there in Kuwait and how much better can you get than that? [Video of Obama shooting a basketball and making the shot.] Look at that. Right in the hoop on the first try.
SAWYER: How sweet.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He wisely gave up right after that. But then in the serious parts of the trip, as well, meeting with Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq who did as I said, as Jake just said, give him a big, big gift this weekend when he seemed to endorse the Obama position on Iraq.
SAWYER: But coming up here, what is ahead? He goes to Israel. A little trickier.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On his way to Israel right now. It will be trickier. You know, the politics of the Middle East peace process are very, very tricky. He'll be meeting tomorrow with the Prime Minister of Israel and three people who want to take his job, probably all looking to trip him up along the road and in Europe he'll be giving a big speech in Germany, who knows how big the crowd is going to be. Here's where that could become problematic for Barack Obama. If that crowd seems to take on an anti-American cast, seems to get a little wild, a circus, a campaign rally, that could be trouble for him. The campaign says they're prepared for that and that the speech will be sober, serious and non-political.
SAWYER: What about the change in position with the Bush administration that we've been seeing over the past week? What does this mean, the time horizons? Now time horizons instead of timetables.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Events are really conspiring to help Senator Obama here. You sw the Bush administration come out for a time horizon. They say it's not a time table on Iraq. You saw the prime minister and his spokesman of Iraq endorse the Obama position. Even on Iran, you see the Bush administration meeting with the Iranians--
SAWYER: Meeting with the adversary.
STEPHANOPOULOS: --which is Barack Obama's position, as well. Both Barack Obama and John McCain now have the same position on Afghanistan. And, remember, Diane, all Obama has to do on national security is blur the distinctions, fight John McCain to a tie, then you get to issues where the Democrats and Obama have a big advantage.
SAWYER: A Lot of reporting, a lot of speculating about whether the press is simply covering the Obama trip too much and covering it without criticism too much. Yesterday, we saw John McCain and former President Bush and they were asked about the coverage that Obama is getting on the trip. Here's the clip.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Do you have any concerns about the appropriateness of the scale of events Senator Obama plans to conduct in Europe, for example?
GEORGE HW BUSH: A little jealous is all.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, McCain's smiling. He is a little jealous. They are frustrated in the McCain camp, as you could imagine. Because you have got so much coverage of Obama's trip here. But this trip is unprecedented right now. I think is that Senator McCain and his team are going to try to counter it later with more interviews. They are even suggesting there's some kind of a surprise coming this week.
SAWYER: All right. Quick word. Anything new, concrete on vice president choices?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's the question. Is the surprise that John McCain is going to announce the vice president. Conceivable, not likely.
SAWYER: Not likely. Nothing new for the moment.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not yet although we're hearing McCain with his choice, wants to, quote-un-quote, scramble the jets.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Bold choice.
SAWYER: Bold choice. All right. Thanks, George. Good to see you.