Good Morning America's Robin Roberts on Friday conducted a softball, light-hearted interview with Barack Obama, devoting 15 minutes to the President. She even included questions from sports celebrities such as Drew Brees.
During the two part segment, which was billed as a look at Obama on Father's Day, Roberts only bothered with four policy questions, instead choosing to highlight the queries from NFL quarterback Brees and NBA star Dwyane Wade.
Relaying audience questions, she investigated, "...Many of you wanted to know how the President would handle a big birthday next month, his daughter Malia is turning 13. You are about to hit the teenage years."
[See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The Anthony Weiner scandal warranted only two questions, the same number given to requests of advice from celebrities. At one point, Roberts introduced, "Quarterback for the New Orleans Saints and he had a very good question and it's one that all parents deal with and that's about balance, Drew Brees."
The GMA anchor followed up with Wade of the Miami Heat. The multi-millionaire needed help with this question: "Hello, Mr. President. I recently received full custody of my two sons. What is the best advice you can give to a single dad?"
What political/policy questions Roberts did pose were relatively mild. Of Weiner, she wondered, "There are many people that are asking why is it that some men in positions of power and authority are engaging in such reckless behavior?"
The anchor didn't ask if the controversy harms the Democratic Party. She also labeled the story a "distraction" and insisted "people want to talk about other topics."
One of the very few tough questions came when Roberts speculated, "The thought [from Republican presidential candidates] was that you made a bad situation worse. How do you respond to that?"
By this time four years ago, during the 2008 presidential campaign, GMA had given Democratic candidates (Hillary Clinton and John Edwards) 64 minutes in special town hall shows. They offered none for Republicans. Now, four years later, no Republicans have received a town hall and Barack Obama is the subject of a lengthy, fawning Father's Day interview.
A transcript of the first segment, which aired at 7:07am on June 17, follows:
ABC GRAPHIC: President Obama One-on-One: Taking on the Republicans
ROBERTS: A short time after that announcement, I had a chance to sit down with our exclusive interview with President Obama. We were there to talk about fatherhood, his own experience and his hopes for America's dads and he made some news of his own. But before we got to that, of course, I got his thoughts on the Anthony Weiner scandal and his response to Republican attacks on his handling of the economy. There are many people that are asking why is it that some men in positions of power and authority are engaging in such reckless behavior?
OBAMA: Well, you know, keep in mind that obviously the vast majority of folks are, you know, doing the right thing and focused on their work. And I wish Representative Weiner and his lovely wife well. Obviously it's been a tough incident for him, but I'm confident that they'll refocus and he'll refocus, and they'll end up being able to bounce back.
ROBERTS: This is something that you were hoping to see, that he would step aside.
OBAMA: Well, I think it was just important for him to be able to focus on his family and what's most important I think for all of us and that is how do the people we love, you know, how do we interacting with them and this gives him some time to do that.
ROBERTS: It became a distraction and people want to talk about other topics such as the economy, the struggling economy, which was a hot button topic at the Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire earlier this week, and you were a top target.
TIM PAWLENTY: This president is a declinist.
NEWT GINGRICH: We need a new president in the Obama depression.
ROBERTS: The thought was that you made a bad situation worse. How do you respond to that?
OBAMA: You know, there will be time for campaigning. I'll let those guys sort out what they want to say. What I know is that an economy that was shrinking is now growing but we've got to grow it faster and, so, the steps we've already taken in terms of payroll tax cut, making sure that we provide tax incentives to businesses to build plants and put people to work, that those steps we've got to sustain.
ROBERTS: The payroll tax cut, will we have that again next year?
OBAMA: Whatever incentives we can provide to businesses to hire more people, the better off we're going to be. And so I'll be working with leaders in both parties hopefully to make the right decisions for the American people.
ROBERTS: Political battles ahead. But just before Father's Day we also came to the White House to talk about fatherhood, with a dad who grew up barely knowing his own father. We ask you to weigh in with questions, both on Twitter and video and many of you wanted to know how the President would handle a big birthday next month, his daughter Malia is turning 13. You are about to hit the teenage years.
OBAMA: Oh, yeah.
ROBERTS: And there were a lot of questions from viewers saying, are you prepared for what's about to come?
OBAMA: Malia and Sasha, for whatever reasons, and I think Michelle gets the lion's share of the credit. They're smart. They're funny, but most importantly they're kind. They're respectful. They're responsible. They're well behaved. I could not ask for better kids. I'm not anticipating complete mayhem for the next four or five year, but I understand teenage-hood is complicated. I should also point out that I have men with guns that surround them often and a great incentive for running for re-election is that it means they never get in the car with a boy who had a beer and that's a pretty good thing.
ROBERTS: Still that young man, knock, knock, knock, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
OBAMA: It's a little intimidating.
ROBERTS: Just a wee bit.
OBAMA: I might invite over to the Oval Office, ask him for his GPA, find out what his intentions are in terms of career.
ROBERTS: Very important. Very important. I know.
OBAMA: Malia, Sasha, if you're watching this, I'm just joking.
ROBERTS: Sure you are. Another question, what if the President had a son? I know you and Reggie have coached a little basketball. But this is a little league dad who has a very interesting question for you.
SANFORD BROWN: Hello, Mr. President. This is Sanford Brown and I'm the proud father of two boys. I was wondering if you could tell me how fatherhood would be different if you had two sons versus two girls.
OBAMA: Yeah, that is a good question. I've got friends with boys. It is absolutely true boys are different from girls. Not all of them, but generally speaking girls are just much more social whereas my friends with boy suddenly they're fighting for a second, then next thing you know they're laughing, they're out playing and, you know they're like tiger cubs or something. I'm sure there are pleasures for parents of either. I don't mind having girls, though.
ROBERTS: Have you thought about having a son?
OBAMA: You know, you act as if this is a decision of mine. This really isn't. I mean as Michelle points out, I did not carry ten pounds in my belly. You know, I think that Michelle's general view is we're done.
ROBERTS: And in our next half hour, our eight o'clock half hour, he talks a little bit more about when he was a father for the first time almost 13 years ago and if one of them will follow in his political footsteps.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's so nice to hear him just talk, be sort of relaxed about that.
ROBERTS: He lights up about that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He does.
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