The three network morning shows on Friday worried about President Obama and the fact that he had "no choice" but to cancel an Asian summit as the government shutdown drags on. On ABC's Good Morning America, Jon Karl lamented, "These were two significant summits in Brunei and Indonesia. The White House says he could legally have gone, but he needs to be here to push for reopening the government and dealing with the pending possible default of the government." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Reiterating, Karl again noted that these are "significant summits" and the "White House did not want to cancel this trip." Karl read a lengthy statement from the White House (with accompanying onscreen graphic) blaming the "House Republicans for forcing a shutdown." GMA co-anchor George Stephanopoulos agreed that the "President really had no choice." At no time did anyone on the program put the responsibility on Obama for not engaging the GOP. One good question might have been: Why stay home from a summit if you aren't going to negotiate over the financial stalemate?
The best Karl could allow is to parrot, "...The White House is saying they won't give anything in exchange for the debt ceiling."
On NBC's Today, Chuck Todd commiserated with Obama, noting, "Third time in three years that something political has caused the President to cancel a trip to Indonesia." Todd even helpfully explained the political reasons why the President stayed home: "But they just thought the look and feel of the President being out of the country while the government is shutdown, he using government resources overseas, that wasn't a smart move politically."
But he didn't blame Obama for the shutdown or lack of progress in bringing it to a speedy conclusion. Instead, he said of the GOP: "Perhaps they'll come up with a new strategy or tactic to decide whether they try to end this now."
In an 8am update, Natalie Morales at least allowed equivalency. She pointed out: "The President says Boehner won't call a vote on a temporary spending bill because he doesn't want to extremists in his party who are demanding changes to ObamaCare. She then highlighted John Boehner labeling ObamaCare "a train wreck."
CBS This Morning anchor Norah O'Donnell called the cancelled summit "another casualty" of the shutdown. The Bill Plante full report featured five clips (total) of Obama, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Harry Reid.
Plante allowed a solitary example of Republican Congressman Eric Cantor blasting the President: "The president’s refusal to work in a bipartisan way has led us to this shutdown." Later in the show, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appeared for more slanted coverage of the shutdown.
[Thanks to MRC intern Paul Bremmer for transcript help.]
A transcript of the October 4 GMA segment is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn now to the government shutdown. Four days in and with no sign of a deal this weekend, President Obama has canceled all of his planned trip to Asia next week. Let's get all the latest from ABC's Jon Karl at the White House. And Jon, this is a blow to American diplomacy. But the President really had no choice.
JON KARL: He really didn't, George. These were two, significant summits in Brunei and Indonesia. The White House says he could legally have gone, but he needs to be here to push for reopening the government and dealing with the pending possible default of the government. The White House put out a statement, blaming it on Republicans, saying "the cancellation of this trip is another consequence of House Republicans forcing a shutdown of the government. This completely avoidable shutdown is setting back our ability to create jobs through promotion of U.S. exports and advance U.S. leadership in the region." So, George, really, a pretty big deal here. These were two significant summits. The White House did not want to cancel this trip.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Meanwhile, Jon, we're seeing some movement, perhaps, by House Speaker John Boehner to avoid that debt limit showdown in a couple of weeks, defaulting the United States.
KARL: Yes. Boehner is telling colleagues privately that he will not allow a default of the U.S. government. That, ultimately, he will do whatever he can to ensure that the debt ceiling is increased. But, George, that does not mean you're out of the woods here because he has also said he will need to have something in the way of deficit reduction to be able to get at least enough Republicans to vote for it to get it to pass. And as you know, the White House is saying they won't give anything in exchange for the debt ceiling.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But Boehner is saying for the first time that he might allow a bill on the floor that would attract Democratic support.
KARL: That's right. That's a necessity. He knows that needs Democrats, ultimately, to pass such a bill.