During the March 27 edition of “World News,” ABC’s Diane Sawyer treated Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to a softball interview which alternated between human interest angles and portraying him as the victim of partisan Republicans.
Even though Sawyer started by framing the interview about “jobs, economic growth, and those gas prices that have gone up five cents in the past week,” she quickly changed the discussion, saying, “Today he's a hero to some for avoiding a depression. To the Republicans, a kind of villain.”
Sawyer failed to give credence to any of the legitimate policy criticisms leveled by Republicans.
Instead, she showed a clip of Newt Gingrich calling him “dangerous,” and a clip of Rick Perry saying that “We would treat them pretty ugly down in Texas.”
The full transcript can be seen below.
ABC World News
March 27, 2012
6:40 p.m. EDT
DIANE SAWYER, anchor: And now a rare conversation with someone who can move marketswith a single word, the quiet but powerful Chairman of the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke. He is the economist who navigated the U.S. through the financial meltdown and we had a chance today to talk about many things, including issues on the minds of every American family. Tonight, jobs, economic growth, and those gas prices that have gone up five cents in the past week.
SAWYER: Enter the powerful Fed building and you know you're in a museum of America's economic history.
BEN BERNANKE, Federal Reserve chairman: I sit right over there.
SAWYER: With a man who rarely speaks but agreed to sit with us today. First up, yet another spike in gas prices. Is this threatening a fragile economy?
SAWYER: Gas prices.
BERNANKE: Well, Gas prices are a major problem. Uh, they're obviously a hardship for lots of people. It must be awfully frustrating to get a small raise at work and then have it eaten up by higher cost of the commuting. From the economy's point of view, there moderate risk–
SAWYER: Moderate? But threatening the recovery?
BERNANKE: Moderate. At this point, at this point I would say its still moderate. Um, we’ll see a little bit higher inflation in the next few months because of higher gas prices, but at this level, we don't think it’s gonna be anything that’s gonna uh, stall the recovery.
SAWYER: Bernanke told us it could still be years before unemployment falls to 5 or 6%. By the end of the year depending on events, it could be down to 8, which means another 1.6 million jobs. But he's been decidedly more restrained on the recovery than the President.
President BARACK OBAMA: The recovery is accelerating. Our economy is getting stronger.
SAWYER: Do you agree? Strong?
BERNANKE: We do have a long way to go. I would say that we, you know, it's far too early to declare victory.
SAWYER: You don't want to use the word strong?
BERNANKE: Not yet.
SAWYER: You once used the phrase green shoots. Are they now what,
stalks? Are they viable trees?
BERNANKE: I–I think they're still shoots. I-We’re seeing some again, good indicators. There hasn't been a double dip or second recession. Right now, I think the odds of it are pretty low, but uh, with forecasting, you just never say never. You have to keep vigilant.
SAWYER:: And this is the legendary sofa-
SAWYER: And in his office, the sofa where he slept night after night while navigating his way through the financial crisis. Today he's a hero to some for avoiding a depression. To the Republicans, a kind of
Newt Gingrich has said, I think he's been the most inflationary --
NEWT GINGRICH: Dangerous-
MITT ROMNEY: I wouldn't keep Ben Bernanke in office. I’d chose someone
of my own–
SAWYER: Former candidate Rick Perry even suggested the FED might be treasonous and they knew how to deal with that in Texas.
RICK PERRY: We would treat them pretty ugly down in Texas.
BERNANKE: Well, I went to Texas shortly after, had a great visit. I mean the main thing is that politics is politics and the Federal Reserve is non-partisan. We want to make the right decision, we want to do it without political pressure and that’s what we’re going to do.
SAWYER: The quiet resolve of a man who grew up the son of a drug store owner from a small South Carolina town, played the saxophone, won the spelling bee, managed to get into Harvard, becoming the most powerful man in American finance. He's also an historian of the great
BERNANKE: This is some of the older Federal Reserve notes-
SAWYER: Even showing me a $10,000 bill from 1934 on the wall. Who is giving history seminars at George Washington University.
BERNANKE: And the theme of the lectures is that you can make sense of it all if you look at the history.
SAWYER:When you were man of the year, said you were the most powerful
nerd in America. Did you take offense at that?
BERNANKE: I'm very proud of my nerd-dom. Uh, the world needs more nerds. Nerds-nerds uh you know, help create jobs and advance science and I hope make good economic policy. But uh, that remains to be seen.
SAWYER: And he refused to say if he would accept continuing on after
his term expires in 2014.