On Monday's "Good Morning America," co-host Chris Cuomo conducted a sycophantic interview with former President Jimmy Carter. In the introduction alone, the ABC anchor glowingly described Carter as someone who is " waging peace, fighting disease and building hope." A few seconds later, he again cheerfully enthused that Carter is a "a man who is all about peace."
Cuomo even went so far as to tell the one-term president that, given some hindsight, America would now appreciate Carter's leadership during the hostage crisis. He described Carter's handling of the 444 day long spectacle of American hostages being held in Iran as the philosophy of saying, "'We will negotiate. We will not just go in and bomb and see what happens.'" To make it perfectly clear that Cuomo was praising Carter and simultaneously slamming President Bush, the ABC host elaborated, "It just seems that today in our political climate, restraint is seen as strength, because we've seen what happens when we use force." After a brief discussion of the 2008 campaign, Cuomo, the son of the former liberal governor Mario Cuomo, gushed that he hoped the Democrats pay "attention to your message. It certainly serves well with the current political situation."
Cuomo also allowed Carter to get away with asserting that, regarding the hostage crisis, "not a single person died in Iran." Of course, in 1980, President Carter oversaw a botched rescue effort that resulted in the deaths of eight U.S. military personnel. This disaster, which is widely seen as one of the events precipitating Carter's defeat in November of that year, wasn't mentioned by Cuomo. However, he did manage to ask gooey questions, such as effusively observing of Carter's new book, "Beyond the White House," "What does it mean to you when you look back on this book, which, of course, came from your own hand?"
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:41am on October 8, follows:
Chris Cuomo: "President Jimmy Carter left the White House in 1981. Since that time, he has traveled the world waging peace, fighting disease and building hope. That is the motto of the Carter Center, a foundation dedicated to human rights, which this year, celebrates 25 years of service to human kind. It's also the subject of Mr. Carter's new book, 'Beyond the White House.' It's my pleasure to welcome President Carter. Thank you for coming back. It's great to have you here always. So you're a man who is all about peace. And yet, we read in the headlines you go to the Sudan and you almost get into a fight with people in one of the most dangerous places in the world. What happened, Mr. President?"
Former President Jimmy Carter: "Well, we were in Darfur. We visited several sites there. After visiting in Khartoum and also the southern part of Sudan, Juba, then we went to Darfur for a visit with the displaced persons there, about 2.2 million of them. And I was in a little village called Kikabia (PH) which is a strange one in that about 16,000 people live in a little village, and 53,000 displaced persons have moved in with them. They don't live in camps. They just live in the village. So, I was visiting throughout the camp and throughout the village, had been in the schools, talking to the leaders of the displaced persons. Then I decided I wanted to visit with the chief or the mayor, we would call him. So, I started to his house and a security guard told me I was forbidden to go because it wasn't on the schedule. We had already departed a long time ago from the schedule. So I just told him I was going to visit the chief anyway, whether he had orders or not, and if he objected, he could contact President al-Bashir, the president of Sudan and see if I was free to go where I chose. So, eventually, we compromised and the chief came to visit me. And I had a private conversation in my vehicle on the way to the helicopter pad. So, it worked out okay."
Cuomo: "Now, aside from that little bit of intrigue and drama there, you had signs of hope in that latest tour there."
Carter: "Well, there are two major peace agreements that are inseparable. One is the comprehensive peace agreement between the north and south to end 20 years of war within which over two million people died. And we were deeply involved in that peace process ever since 1989. And in the most recent one, obviously, is the Darfur peace agreement that was consummated in Abuja a couple years ago and that's supposed to bring an end to the suffering in Darfur. And I was there with a group of so-called elders, accompanied by Nelson Mandela's wife and by Archbishop Tutu and Mr. Brahimi, who is the chief negotiator for the United Nations. And, so, we were there, trying to see how we as senior statesmen could help bring it to fruition, the hopes and dreams that have been expressed in these peace agreements. And so, it's a very dicey situation in that there's still a lot of tension between north and south Sudan, may re-erupt into war and of course, the suffering of the Darfur people. It is now paramount in the people's conscience around the world."
Cuomo: "What do you think when you look pack on this book? 25 years. You won a Nobel Peace prize. You've been in situations all over the world, all over this country. What does it mean to you when you look back on this book, which, of course, came from your own hand?"
Carter: "I wrote every word of it."
Cuomo: "But what does it mean to you?"
Carter: "Well, it's just a recollection of the importance of preserving peace, and people like me who have had a wonderful life and been president of the greatest nation in the world, using what influence I have to promote peace and justice and promotion of human rights, protecting the environment, and particularly, to alleviate suffering. And the purpose of this book is to just acquaint people who read it and who hear about it with the obligation that we as affluent, blessed people in the world, need to share what we have, our time and our effort and our money with those who are desperately in need. The Carter Center now has programs in 71 different nations in the world, the poorest and most destitute people on Earth. 35 of those countries are in Africa, so I'm often with Rosalynn, the Carter Center people, all over Africa."
Cuomo: "A couple of political questions for you. First one, one of perspective. The Iran hostage situation, if that happened today and the same call was made. 'We will negotiate. We will not just go in and bomb and see what happens.' Do you think the perception of it would be very different?"
Carter: "I doubt it because I was heavily advised by my political advisors to take military action. And I could have destroyed Iran, as you know, with our bombs and missiles and weapons. But it would have rested in the death of our hostages and it would have killed 30, 40, 50,000 innocent Iranians. I decided to be patient and to negotiate. And although it may have cost me the reelection and so forth, not a single person died in Iran, and every hostage came home safe and free."
Cuomo: "It just seems that today in our political climate, restraint is seen as strength, because we've seen what happens when we use force. Let me ask quickly, what do you see in the election?"
Carter: "Well, I think the Democrats he an excellent chance to win it."
Cuomo: "I'm sure you do."
Carter: "We have a good panoply of good candidates and any one of whom, I believe, would do a very good job in the White House, much better job than is being done now."
Cuomo: "Hopefully, they're paying attention to your message. It certainly serves well with the current political situation. And let me congratulate you most of all, not the Nobel Peace Prize, not the 25 years, 61 years of marriage."
Carter: "All right. It's been a good 61 years."
Cuomo: "That is a legacy in and of itself. President Carter, thank you so much."
Carter: "And to the same woman, by the way."
Cuomo: "Yes. Yes. Please. How could you even suggest it? You can all go to ABCnews.com for an excerpt of the book."