By now, most NewsBusters readers have seen the Drudge Report item alleging that President Obama called rapper Kanye West (he of the "George Bush doesn't care about black people" fame) a "jackass." This report originated with Terry Moran's rogue tweet to that effect, which later caused ABC to apologize to the White House for relaying off-the-record information to the public at large.
Gossip Web site TMZ.com, however, has no such qualms about relaying off-the-record statements made by celebrities -- even, or especially, when the celebrity in question is the President of the United States. TMZ acquired an audio recording of the President's comments, found here.
The most striking thing about this audio, however, is not that the leader of the free world is irritated with the behavior of a well-documented boor -- it is that the President and the press are so jovial with each other. The first question is asked by someone named John, probably John Harwood of CNBC. The collegial "Does that count as the first question?" sounds a bit like White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, though without video it is impossible to be absolutely certain.
The transcript of these comments can be found below.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: Were your girls as hacked off as mine were that Kanye gave Taylor Swift the Joe Wilson treatment?
OBAMA: I thought that was really inappropriate. I mean, it’s like, she’s getting an award, what are you butting in? I, I hear ya, I agree with ya.
ROBERT GIBBS, White House press secretary: John, does that count as the first question?
OBAMA: The young lady seems like a perfectly nice person, she’s getting her award. What’s he doing up there?
[UNIDENTIFIED] Why would he do that?
OBAMA: He’s a jackass.
[gaggle bursts into laughter]
OBAMA: Now –
[UNIDENTIFIED] That’s what Pink said!
OBAMA: Where’s the pool? Come on, guys. Cut the President some slack. I got a lot of other stuff on my plate. Cause I remember last time it was the fly thing. That was the highlight of, uh –
HARWOOD: Now that worked out well for you.* You were a ninja.
OBAMA: Except PETA!
GIBBS: Yeah, Reggie uh, Reggie [Love; Obama's personal assistant?] has the fly to release in about seven minutes.
UNIDENTIFIED: You got the chopsticks this time?
OBAMA: Yeah, right.
* Harwood was the reporter who interviewed Obama in the now-infamous, PETA-inflaming fly-swatting episode.