Steve Kroft at CBS News is apparently feeling the heat over his powder-puff interview of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It has fallen to television writer David Bauder at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press (HT Dylan Byers at the Politico) to try and help put out the fire.
You see, according to Kroft (my paraphrase), “This whole interview thing was a surprise, and we were only allowed 30 minutes, and besides, there are so many other opportunities to ask tough questions in other venues. So why should I waste precious fawning time asking tough questions mere journalists ask when I can let the lovely pair go all gooey?” Exceprts from Bauder’s butt-covering effort follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Kroft: Obama-Clinton interview request a surprise
With limited time and the unusual nature of a dual appearance with President Obama and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, CBS’ Steve Kroft said Monday said he thought it important to focus on their professional relationship instead of specific questions about world events.
Kroft said CBS was surprised when the White House suggested the appearance a little more than a week ago. The interview was conducted Friday and aired Sunday on “60 Minutes.”
He judged that Obama wanting to do the interview alongside the woman who was once his fierce political rival before joining his administration was news in itself.
“I would have liked very much to delve into some areas of foreign policy and what is going on in the world, but it was not anything we could take on in 30 minutes,” Kroft said, noting the time offered by the White House.
Besides, he said, there are opportunities to ask those questions in presidential or state department briefings.
“What was not ever likely to present itself was the opportunity to sit down and talk to them about their professional relationship,” he said. “We thought that was the most important thing to do. You can watch their body language. You can judge what their relationship is.”
… Kroft said he sensed a warmth and respect between the two that might not have been publicly evident prior to the interview.
CBS received some criticism on Fox News Channel for not seeking news more aggressively. On “Fox & Friends,” for example, co-host Brian Kilmeade said Kroft should have asked more questions about Clinton’s recent fall and concussion.
What Kroft did was allow Obama and Hillar to engage in pre-planned public relations stunt with someone they knew won’t throw them off-message. Recall that Kroft is the scurrilous sap who let then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton come onto 60 Minutes 21 years ago (video is here) and lie about not having had an affair with Gennifer Flowers in front of his wife and the nation, while wife Hillary stood by her man while pretending she wasn’t doing a Tammy Wynette imitation.
Bauder wants readers to believe that it’s only conservatives on Fox who are criticizing Kroft, and implying that they’re only prying about her medical incidents of the past several weeks. Far from it. As Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters noted this afternoon, Kirsten Powers, a liberal on Fox, called Kroft’s interview “something you would expect from like the state-run media…60 Minutes was transparently being used as a campaign advertisement.” NB’s P.J. Gladnick also observed that commenters at the interview’s web page are hitting Kroft hard for what one of them wrote “was the worst political interview I have EVER seen. You came across like a groveling sycophant. You disgraced yourself as a journalist. Shame on you.” I strongly doubt that all of Kroft critic’s at the CBS web page are conservatives.
Near the end of his report, the AP’s Bauder writes that Kroft is ignoring the criticism: “This is something that has not been on my radar screen.” Sure Steve. That’s why you had Dave Bauder try to help bail you out.
Cross-posted at Newsbusters.org.