CBS and NBC on Tuesday night reached deep into a Washington Post story – specifically, the 20th paragraph of a 24-paragraph article – to pluck out a quote in order to demonstrate a “frustrated” President Barack Obama has been angry about the gulf oil spill. “A frustrated President Obama says ‘plug the damn hole,’” Katie Couric teased at the top of the CBS Evening News. She soon elaborated:
Frustration over the spill has been simmering for weeks, even in the Oval Office. We learned today that in the first days of this crisis an angry President Obama snapped at a meeting, quote: ‘Plug the damn hole.’ The President will head to the gulf coast on Friday, his second visit in about four weeks.
The NBC Nighty News plastered the quote on screen, as Brian Williams announced:
We also learn more today about the President's frustration. A Washington Post article saying President Obama bluntly told an aide in the Oval Office: ‘Plug the damn hole.’ That hasn't happened yet, but the President is heading back there Friday.
The quote, which the White House gave to the Washington Post and then when it ended up buried, I’d bet, pitched it to the White House press corps, appeared in a front page Tuesday article, “Administration torn on getting tough with BP” (that’s the print headline, different online), by Karen Tumulty and Steven Mufson. The 18th through 21st paragraphs of the 24-paragraph story:
....Since the oil rig exploded, the White House has tried to project a posture that is unflappable and in command.
But to those tasked with keeping the president apprised of the disaster, Obama's clenched jaw is becoming an increasingly familiar sight. During one of those sessions in the Oval Office the first week after the spill, a president who rarely vents his frustration cut his aides short, according to one who was there.
“Plug the damn hole,” Obama told them.
The hole continues to spew, however, in quantities now thought to be three to five times the 5,000 barrels a day originally estimated....