ABC’s George Stephanopoulos cozied up to his former boss Bill Clinton for a 9 minute interview on Wednesday’s Good Morning America in which the ABC host did his best promote the former president and his Clinton Global Initiative.
During the discussion, which looked more like two buddies hanging out than an actual interview, Stephanopoulos lamented how President Obama’s “caught in something of a box...How does he work his way out of that box?”
Stephanopoulos’ interview with President Clinton began by discussing the war against ISIS but quickly turned to politics. The ABC host bemoaned about “President Obama’s situation. It seems like he’s caught in something of a box. Even on foreign policy, on the specifics the country seems to agree with what he's doing. Yet he’s got the lowest approval rating on foreign policy of his entire presidency. How does he work his way out of that box?”
The ABC host then wondered “is there something to this, you know, second term curse. You look at modern presidents. You hit that sixth year, it's almost impossible for a president of either party to have much support that late in the game.”
Nowhere in the first half of the interview did Stephanopoulos bother to ask his former boss what President Obama had done wrong to deserve such low approval ratings or if Clinton thought Obama acted too late in dealing with ISIS. Instead, the ABC host insisted that Obama’s low poll numbers were beyond his control and part of the “second term curse” that all presidents go through.
The second half of the interview, which aired during the second hour of GMA, was essentially an infomercial for the Clinton Global Initiative. Stephanopoulos narrated a promotional video for Clinton’s foundation which included on-screen graphics of CGI’s mission and catchy music in the background as the ABC host swooned over the work the charity has done.
Stephanopoulos introduced the CGI-centered segment by hyping the star-powered guests that attended this year’s summit in New York City:
His Clinton Global Initiative is happening right now in New York, bringing together prime ministers, business leaders, Hollywood stars, all signing up for public service projects. And we spoke about the difference those projects are making, and watch for a possible clue about his grandchild to come.
The GMA co-host then used the upcoming birth of Clinton’s grandchild as a jumping off point to continue to promote the work of CGI:
That feeling fuels his initiative. Which has “has improved the lives of more than 430 million people so far… Over 2900 projects and programs in more than 180 countries. CGI has a simple mission, “turn ideas into action.”
Stephanopoulos continued to heap praise at Clinton:
Re-imagining the world and taking action. Something important for the soon to be grandfather-in-chief who seemed to give away a little secret. I know you're on grandfather watch, getting close. What's the biggest thing you want to teach your new grandchild?
Unsurprisingly, Stephanopoulos failed to mention how CGI continues to lose money and instead doubled-down on his over-the-top advocacy of the organization:
Programs are also designed to help inspire our next-generation. “26 National” is dedicated to helping students explore their creativity, improve their writing skills. With a strong emphasis in science… They are working to inspire students to pursue science-driven career paths.
Stephanopoulos served as President Clinton’s Communications Director in the early 1990s before joining ABC News but the network never mentioned their relationship prior to the chummy interview. Much of GMA’s audience is in the younger age demographic and probably have no idea the two worked together in the 90s.
Instead of mentioning this important detail, ABC allowed Clinton's former Communications Director to act as the unofficial communications director for the Clinton Global Initiative during the 9 minutes of promotional airtime GMA gave the former Democrat.
See relevant transcripts below.
ABC’s Good Morning America
September 24, 2014
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re going to turn now to Bill Clinton in New York, sharing his Clinton Global Initiative conference. We spoke about the public service commitments inspired by that initiative over the last decade and the former president weighed in on today's politics, that White House security breach and America's latest salvo in what has become a decades-long war on terror. We saw President Obama order air strikes into Syria. What do you say to Americans who say think this war has just become a condition of modern life?
BILL CLINTON: Well first of all, by and large, we were not going to war against nations. We were going to war against non-state actors. The world has made most borders more porous. Technology has made the means of destruction at hand for more and more groups.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's the dark side of globalization.
CLINTON: Yeah. ISIS and the Gates Foundation have one thing in common, they're both non-governmental organizations. One of them does good and brings us together, the other drives us apart and kills people. It's just a fact of modern life that power is more diffuse.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And another condition of modern life, presidential security. How surprised were you an intruder could jump the fence and actually walk into the White House?
CLINTON: Well I wasn’t surprised he jumped the fence, but I was quite surprised that he got in. I still don’t know how that happened.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk a little bit of politics. I just wonder how you think about President Obama's situation. It seems like he’s caught in something of a box. Even on foreign policy, on the specifics the country seems to agree with what he's doing. Yet he’s got the lowest approval rating on foreign policy of his entire presidency. How does he work his way out of that box?
CLINTON: Well I think first of all, people were really shaken by those beheadings—
CLINTON: Horrible. The American people generally tend to judge a president by whether we are more secure and look strong. So I think they do support what he's decided to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, I wonder, is there something to this, you know, second term curse. You look at modern presidents. You hit that sixth year, it's almost impossible for a president of either party to have much support that late in the game.
CLINTON: I think his challenges are rooted in the fact that first of all, he had certain elements of the media and the Republican Party who were always against him. It's almost impossible for the average American to understand how totally political Washington is today.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Take us out ten years. We were here ten years ago. The first CGI conference. And I asked you where did you want to be in 10 years, and you said –
CLINTON: If we do this together for ten years, I think there will be a measurable impact on some of the world's most severe problems.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Promise kept?
CLINTON: I think so. We can document the improvements in the lives of 430 million people in 180 countries. And we now have about have the people in the world that are alive because of the AIDS medicine getting off contracts we negotiated. So I think in terms of the just sheer gross impact, it's been bigger than I thought it would be.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So set the bar for ten years from now.
CLINTON: Well I’m always trying to work myself out of a job. So I’d like it if the world developed kind of a preference for this model of problem solving. So that in every country in every region there was support from government and nobody did things alone. The best practice is to get as many partners as you can together around a complex problem and then basically have a network of cooperation. That's the best practice.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we’re going to have a lot more on the initiative later in the program and little clue he gave about his grand baby to be.
ROBIN ROBERTS: He’s very excited about that. You two look exactly the same 10 years ago. When they put the shot up of the two of you.
ABC’s Good Morning America
September 24, 2014
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: More of my conversation now with former President Bill Clinton. His Clinton Global Initiative is happening right now in New York, bringing together prime ministers, business leaders, Hollywood stars, all signing up for public service projects. And we spoke about the difference those projects are making, and watch for a possible clue about his grandchild to come.
BILL CLINTON: I want to welcome all of you here to the tenth meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's where the world’s most powerful meet.
HILLARY CLINTON: I think my husband has invented an extraordinary initiative.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The annual Clinton Global Initiative brings together world leaders. And celebrities.
EVA LONGORIA: Like so many of you here tonight, I am an activist.
LEONARDO DICAPRIO: Climate change is compromising the very livability of our planet.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Re-imagining the world and taking action. Something important for the soon to be grandfather-in-chief who seemed to give away a little secret. I know you're on grandfather watch, getting close. What's the biggest thing you want to teach your new grandchild?
CLINTON: I want my grandson or granddaughter –
STEPHANOPOULOS: I thought we got some news there for a second.
CLINTON: No, we don't have -- I'm proud of any son-in-law, my daughter for not wanting to know. I want them to get up every day and look at the world with wonder and reverence. I want them to respect everyone they meet. Whatever their background. I want them to really love being alive. And when they grow up, I want them to believe they have certain obligations. To people who don't have all the opportunities they'll have.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That feeling fuels his initiative. Which has improved the lives of more than 430 million people so far.
CLINTON: 43 million children plus have access to better education.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Over 2900 projects and programs in more than 180 countries. CGI has a simple mission, “turn ideas into action.” And we're seeing the results right here at home. There's the “Billion Oyster Project” at the New York Harbor School.
CLINTON: There's no place in America that better exemplifies the world I want to leave to our children and grandchildren than this school and its partners.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The project is effectively educating students on the environment and equipping them with vital tools for the future.
STANLEE CASTIOLO: It’s taught me things that I would have never learned if I would have went to another high school, and its opened more opportunities for me.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And it’s helping some students discover their passion.
UNKNOWN PERSON 1: It’s changed my life in many ways.
ALYSSA GIACINTO: I figured out I really enjoyed agriculture and I want to be an agriculturalist.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Programs are also designed to help inspire our next-generation. “26 National” is dedicated to helping students explore their creativity, improve their writing skills. With a strong emphasis in science.
UNKNOWN PERSON 2: What did you guys try? Maybe you can help us solve this mystery.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They are working to inspire students to pursue science-driven career paths.
UNKNOWN PERSON 2: I would be a biologist because I would study living things.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Ted Girls Rock is another life-changing program inspiring young girls to discover an interest in technology.
UNKNOWN PERSON 3: I know that one girl said being an engineer is kind of fun, maybe I do want to go into it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A field often uncharted by females. Another goal of the initiative, to empower with programs like Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps. That’s a program that works to strengthen and help women vets grow their small businesses. Women like Angela Cody-Rouget. After serving in the U.S. Air Force for 18 years, she wanted to focus on being a mom.
ANGELA CODY-ROUGET: When I became a stay at home mom, I got to meet other civilian moms, and what I noticed when I would go to their home, is that their homes and their lives are a little bit chaotic, a little bit disorganized.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So Angela solved the problem with “Major Mom”, a professional organizing company.
CODY-ROUGET: Right when I was about to really just be like, I don't know how long this is going to take, that is when the “Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps” program came online.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And today thanks to CGI’s involvement “Major Mom” is on track to become a national brand.
CODY-ROUGET: They were the wind beneath my wings. You can do this and don't let anybody tell you differently.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Love that brand, "Major Mom."