Tom Brokaw: Barack Obama Has Been a ‘Scandal-Free’ President

Repeating a journalistic trope, Tom Brokaw reacted to Barack Obama’s farewell address by insisting that the President has been “scandal-free” for the last eight years. Appearing on MSNBC, Brokaw gushed over the speech: “This is the kind of speech that got him elected president. And it was that kind of appearance that he made at Boston during in the John Kerry convention that first drew attention to him.” 

Brokaw praised Obama: “He's been scandal free, frankly, in the White House. We haven' had that what for a while. There have been some issues around his campaign, but they have not settled on him.” 

Scandal free? Has Brokaw forgotten PolitiFact’s 2013 “lie of the year?” The claim that if you like your health care, you can keep it? What about Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and her e-mail scandal? What about the IRS targeting of conservatives, the terrible conditions at Barack Obama’s Veterans Affairs department? Benghazi?  

In the December 19 issue of Time, journalist Joe Klein echoed this sentiment, insisting, “There would be little melodrama and absolutely no hint of scandal during [Obama’s] time in office.” 

To his credit, Brokaw attempted to be even-handed later in his assessment of Obama, noting of his impact: 

TOM BROKAW: They lost control of the Congress, 75 percent of the state houses are in the hands of Republicans with governors and attorneys general out there and he's got a Congress now that is Senate and Republican in the House, as well. So from a political point of view, there's a lot of residue from the Obama era of eight years. 

A partial transcript is below: 

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MSNBC post-Obama speech coverage
10/10/17
10:15

RACHEL MADDOW: This is an unusual format and unusual approach to a farewell address. They are usually not this big of a deal when presidents give their farewells, at least not in the modern era. 

TOM BROKAW: Well, this is the kind of speech that got him elected president. And it was that kind of appearance that he made at Boston during in the John Kerry convention that first drew attention to him. 

MADDOW: Yeah. ‘04. 

BROKAW: So, he is very eloquent. He is one of the most eloquent presidents we have had for a long, long time. And the celebration of his family I think is one of the most important part of his legacy as well, because whatever people feel about his politics, when you look at Michelle and the two daughters and how they conducted themselves in the White House, that should give everyone a good feeling about their family values. 

And he's been scandal free, frankly, in the White House. We haven' had that what for a while. There have been some issues around his campaign, but they have not settled on him. Now, having said that, I also want to add that you have to let a presidency marinate for a while before we can really make a judgment. These kinds of evenings are very emotional, obviously, and it’s packed with people who are for him. The fact is that he's been the titular head of the party. 

They lost control of the Congress, 75 percent of the state houses are in the hands of Republicans with governors and attorneys general out there and he's got a Congress now that is Senate and Republican in the House, as well. So from a political point of view, there's a lot of residue from the Obama era of eight years, not all entirely his fault. Republicans helped by getting up against him and saying we're not going to do anything. They played small ball for eight years. No question about that. I think the other issue that is troubling to a lot of people and his national security circles are the fact that he stood back with Syria, and that this he kept moving the red line and what happened is that Putin saw that, moved in and we have had a terrible human rights tragedy going on in Aleppo, Syria and there's almost no response from this White House on that.

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