Interviewing White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett yesterday, The View's liberal co-hosts repelled Elisabeth Hasslebeck's tough questions on President Obama's failed economic agenda by changing the subject and ignoring their conservative colleague's criticism.
Refuting the claim that the economy is "certainly moving in the right direction" despite dismal unemployment numbers, Hasselbeck asked Jarrett if Obama's $50 billion infrastructure bill represents an "admittance of failure on the $800 billion stimulus bill that didn't seem to work."
To sidestep Hasselbeck's question, Jarrett invoked incredulity, flawed statistics, and historical revisionism:
Didn't seem to work? My goodness, to the three million people who have jobs today – to their families – I'd say it did work. Now it turned out that the economy was in far worse shape than anyone could have predicted, and so we're not out of the hole yet, but those three million families are certainly better off. The millions of families whose jobs were saved as a result of our investment in the automotive industry, all of the small businesses.
"If [the stimulus package] worked so well you wouldn't need the $50 billion," retorted Hasselbeck, pressing Jarrett to answer her original question. But instead of waiting for Jarrett to respond, co-host Joy Behar changed the subject to the auto bailout: "I don't hear enough from the Democrats tooting their own horn on that one."
Delighted to be bailed out of answering a tough question, Jarrett gushed, "Help us tout it, you're absolutely right. Not just GM, but Chrysler and Ford – all three of them are now having profits for the first time in a decade, they're all doing well. And that's a result of the steps [Obama] took." And before Hasselbeck could repeat her question, co-host Sherri Shepherd changed topics again: "I want to move it around a little bit and ask about you."
A few minutes later, after Jarrett and her liberal allies exchanged playful banter about family trips to Chuck E. Cheese and her longtime friendship with the Obamas, Hasselbeck made one last attempt to hold the Obama confidant accountable: "I think there's trouble now that's to be had or else we wouldn't need to spend another $50 billion if the plan had worked."
This time, co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters jumped to Jarrett's defense.
"We could go on and on," contended Goldberg.
"We could go on and on," echoed Walters, who proceeded to end the interview.
A transcript of the relevant portions of the September 13 "The View" can be found below:
September 13, 2010
11:38 A.M. E.S.T.
JOY BEHAR: He's criticized a lot for not focusing on jobs. He focused on health insurance. Does he regret that he didn't do it the other way around?
VALERIE JARRETT, White House senior adviser: Well, let me say this: don't you think it's important to have a president who can multi-task?
JARRETT: And so he did focus on the economy from day one and if you think about it, Joy, when he took office we were losing over 750,000 jobs every single month, four million jobs in the last six months of the Bush administration. And half of the last eight months we've seen private sector growth. Unemployment rate is still too high – you're right, Elisabeth, it's not nearly where we would want it to be – we won't be happy until every single American who wants to work is working. But we are certainly moving in the right direction and it was a terrible condition that he inherited. I mean, think about.
ELISABETH HASSELBECK: If I could, on that note, Valerie, because I think it's important. With the new $50 billion infrastructure bill that the president outlined Friday, correct?
JARRETT: Last week, yes.
HASSELBECK: Some people are calling that an admittance of failure on the $800 billion stimulus bill that didn't seem to work.
JARRETT: Didn't seem to work? My goodness, to the three million people who have jobs today – to their families – I'd say it did work. Now it turned out that the economy was in far worse shape than anyone could have predicted, and so we're not out of the hole yet, but those three million families are certainly better off. The millions of families whose jobs were saved as a result of our investment in the automotive industry. All of the small businesses.
HASSELBECK: If it worked so well you wouldn't need the $50 billion.
BEHAR: I don't hear enough from the Democrats tooting their own horn on that one.
JARRETT: Help us tout it, you're absolutely right.
BARBARA WALTERS: The president has talked about it.
JARRETT: Not just GM, but Chrysler and Ford – all three of them are now having profits for the first time in a decade, they're all doing well. And that's a result of the steps he took.
SHERRI SHEPHERD: I want to move it around a little bit and ask about you. You had a really interesting background. You were born in Iran, you lived in Iran for five years, then you lived in London for one year, then you came back. You said while you were out there you had no awareness of race until you came back during the 60s, during the civil rights movement. So when you were back here, what kinds of things did you experience in terms of race?
11:43 A.M. E.S.T.
WALTERS: What do you call him?
SHEPHERD: When you're at Chuck E. Cheese?
JARRETT: I've had my share of Chuck E. Cheese. It's wonderful when you've got a five year old. No but when I'm out of the office and I'm just being his friend I call him Barack, but when I'm in the office I call him Mr. President.
BEHAR: You've known him a long time and I understand he's never gotten angry with you – you've never seen him get angry. A lot of people would like to see that now. We want to see it.
HASSELBECK: We'd just like to see jobs. Not anger, results.
JARRETT: Well I think it's important that we have a president with a solid, steady temper.
BEHAR: Absolutely true.
JARRETT: Particularly during these difficult times. Don't you think that's important? It's important and, you know, I don't want a president just being, you know, emotional and sounding off. He has too much responsibility and too much power for that, but I also think last week as we're going into this election season you're seeing him make some contrasts between kind of the party that wants to go back to the Bush days that got us into all of this trouble – sorry Elisabeth – that we're in now.
HASSELBECK: I think there's trouble now that's to be had or else we wouldn't need to spend another $50 billion if the plan had worked.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: We could go on and on.
WALTERS: We could go on and on. And we'll ask you to come back with us and we can go on and on. I'm sure the president's very happy that you're going to remain in your present position.
JARRETT: Thank you very much. Thank you.
WALTERS: And we want to thank Valerie Jarrett so much. It's an honor for us to have you on with us, great pleasure.