Robert Gibbs on Friday appeared on all three network morning shows, as well as Fox News, MSNBC and CNN, but only FNC quizzed the White House press secretary about whether the White House would try and force immigration reform without Congress.
Co-host Steve Doocy challenged, "There are some memos circulating...up on Capitol Hill, and probably at the White House as well, about how the administration is exploring the way to get around Congress by using discretionary authority to allow people who are in the country illegally to stay in the country."
When Gibbs dodged the question, Doocy pressed the subject: "Robert, if you haven't seen the memo, do you know whether or nor there is that talk? To use discretionary authority on the part of the administration to get around Congress to allow people who are in the country now illegally to stay?" All of the other cable and network morning shows ignored the topic.
On the networks, CBS's Early Show devoted just a single Gibbs question to the ethics charges filed against Congressman Charlie Rangel. Harry Smith rushed, "I want to ask you very quickly about Charles Rangel."
In contrast, Good Morning America guest host Chris Cuomo brought the subject up four times to Gibbs. Cuomo's first question seemed more focused on how this would effect the midterms.
He worried, "You're dealing with a situation right now with Congressman Rangel. Do you believe or do you fear that he's going to be used as the poster child for being in bed with the special interests?"
However, Cuomo, unlike Smith, followed up: "...Will the President take a stand, a leadership position, demanding action on behalf of Congressman Rangel that he step down? That he define what this party's supposed to be about going into the elections?"
On NBC's Today, Matt Lauer hit the topic three times. He wondered if the White House would "urge [Rangel] quietly or forcefully to find some other solution to this?"
Fox and Friends, however, did not discuss the Rangel controversy at all. This, despite the fact that Doocy asked Gibbs what he thought about Ellen DeGeneres leaving American Idol.
There was an odd moment during Gibbs' appearance on CNN's American Morning. Quizzing the press secretary on Shirley Sherrod and race issues, host John Roberts wondered, "Should the President be the one to lead that discussion? Or is the White House, you know, a little cautious about getting drawn deeply into racial issues? Is the president worried that he may become sort of the president of black issues here?"
He followed up, "But is the President not a good person to lead that discussion?"
Perhaps Roberts was simply overlooking the problems Obama had with Reverend Wright. Or maybe not. After all, it was Roberts who, on May 5, 2008, interviewed the then-candidate and declared CNN a "Reverend Wright-free zone."
A transcript of Fox and Friends' Gibbs interview, which aired at 7:40am EDT on July 6, follows:
ALISYN CAMEROTA: Welcome back, everybody. There's a new memo out this morning that appears to show the White House has an amnesty plan. Let's ask White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about that, and he joins us live. Good morning, Robert.
ROBERT GIBBS: Good morning guys, how are you?
CAMEROTA: We're doing well. I want to ask you, on a similar note, there's a new poll out this week by the Arizona Republic that shows 62 percent of Arizonans actually believe in letting illegal immigrants stay in the state, if they have a job and no criminal record. Is that the type of amnesty that the White House supports?
GIBBS: The White House doesn't support amnesty, and I think the people who support comprehensive immigration reform don't support amnesty either. What we need to do is, again, figure out how we're going to secure our borders, deal with those that are here, but do it in a comprehensive way, and do it at a federal level. Because as frustrated as Arizonans are, and we understand that, we can't have a patchwork of immigration laws throughout each of the 50 states.
STEVE DOOCY: Alright Robert, well how about this. Let's not use the word "amnesty," let's talk about a road to citizenship. There are some memos circulating – I'm sure you know – up on Capitol Hill, and probably at the White House as well, about how the administration is exploring the way to get around Congress by using discretionary authority to allow people who are in the country illegally to stay in the country.
GIBBS: Well Steve, you'd be surprised. I have not seen those memos, I don't think they've circulated a lot through this White House. What this President has talked about –
DOOCY: If you haven't seen the memo – Robert, if you haven't seen the memo, do you know whether or nor there is that talk? To use discretionary authority on the part of the administration to get around Congress to allow people who are in the country now illegally to stay?
GIBBS: This administration believes that the only way to deal with immigration is to do it comprehensively, to do it through Congress, with Democrats and Republicans working together. We've done it before, with members like John McCain, members like Lindsey Graham, working with Democrats like Barack Obama when he was in the U.S. Senate. We can do that again, we can solve this problem once and for all. We can deal with securing our borders, as the President has talked about moving 1,200 National Guardsmen to secure the borders. And I think we can deal with this comprehensively if we'll all just take a step back to deal with the problem.
CAMEROTA: And Robert, just to dig in a little bit on this. When you say that comprehensive immigration reform involves dealing with those 11 million that are already here, what does that look like?
GIBBS: Well look, the legislation again that was supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past creates a pathway to citizenship, but only after they go to the back of the line, pay a fine, learn English – that's all part of this process. The first part is obviously securing our borders, making sure that employers are not hiring illegals – that is all that's in comprehensive immigration reform, and that's what has to be dealt with. Again, it's been done on the federal level before, with people that disagree or agree with this President, and I think it's something we can do again.
DOOCY: Later today, the President – your boss – is going to go out to Michigan, talk about jobs, and also the auto bailout as well, and how it has worked, and how, apparently, we could get the money back, right?
GIBBS: We believe that we will get the money that this administration invested in the auto industry, that required the auto industry to make some very tough restructuring decisions, asked for sacrifices from both the companies and the workers – look, it is a good news story. The year before this President came in, we were shedding more than 300,000 jobs a year in the auto industry. Since GM came out of bankruptcy, we've actually added 55,000 jobs. That's the first time that that's happened in a decade. And for the first time since 2004, the three big auto companies that manufacture their cars right here in America are actually reporting profits. So there's good news, because the auto companies made some very tough decisions, and we made an investment that prevented a million people from losing their job.
CAMEROTA: And yet, Robert, the unemployment numbers in Michigan are fairly grim. I think they're upwards of 13 percent. So what will the President say to the folks there who doubt his job strategy?
GIBBS: Well look, we're going to a plant today that is adding a shift to meet the consumer demand of the products that they're making. That's good news. Again, we made a tough decision to invest in the auto industry, and to save a million people in the Midwest, in the manufacturing belt of this country, from walking out of a plant and never returning to their job. We've got to keep making improvements, we've got to keep investing in small business. I think that the best thing that the Congress can do right now is put aside the partisan differences we have with Republicans blocking a small business bill that would cut capital gains taxes on small businesses to zero, and provide money through community banks to lend to small businesses. That's an issue that shouldn't be a partisan issue, it shouldn't be blocked by Republicans, but that's indeed what happened just yesterday.
DOOCY: Well you know, I'm sure the people of Michigan will be interested in hearing the President's message, because in Michigan, as you know –
CAMEROTA: In Detroit –
DOOCY: In Detroit, specifically, the unemployment rate is 14 percent. It's one of the highest spots in the country, and Michigan, the state itself, is north of 13 percent. So for those people, they're going, "Hey, where's my job?"
GIBBS: Well, look Steve, if the President hadn't made some of those decisions, their job would have left town. I don't think anybody can imagine Detroit – and quite frankly, Steve, Detroit's unemployment rate's higher than 14 percent – but nobody can imagine Detroit coming back without a strong auto industry. We know that that's the heart and soul of the auto industry. There's a lot of things that have to happen. We have to offer educational opportunities, we have to create jobs, we have to invest in our small businesses, despite what Republicans are doing on Capitol Hill. But nobody can imagine Detroit coming back to the city we all know and hope it can be, without a strong auto industry. The President will visit a plant, both a GM and a Chrysler plant today – places where jobs are being added, we're protecting and saving the middle class, lots of families that have worked in these plants for generations and have made a good living.
DOOCY: Alright, before you go, I've got to ask you the really hard question. It's the "gotcha" question.
GIBBS: I'm ready.
DOOCY: Alright, it sounds as if Ellen is out at American Idol, Cara is out. How do you think J-Lo and Steven Tyler will do as judges if it is true, as reported at TMZ on American Idol?
GIBBS: Actually, I want to tell you guys exclusively, that I'm leaving the White House briefing room to be a judge on American Idol.
CAMEROTA: Wow! We had not heard of that before.
GIBBS: I know. I know. It's big news.
CAMEROTA: What will you bring to the cast?
GIBBS: No discernable musical talent. I don't think though that will hold me back. I really don't. I can tap my foot when you guys play that intro music, but other than that, I have virtually no discernable musical talent.
DOOCY: So you're retiring from the White House to go into show business?
GIBBS: I can think of no better training ground for American Idol than a room of 49 seats, and people all wanting to ask you, as you said, the hard "gotcha" questions. So I think I'm now ready.
CAMEROTA: Well, you heard it here first, folks. Robert Gibbs, thanks so much for coming on to talk to us this morning.