ABC's Jake Tapper on Tuesday pressed Barack Obama on the Fast and Furious gun scandal, but his network didn't allow the question to appear on Nightline, World News or Good Morning America. (All played clips of the interview.) Instead, ABC found time to air Tapper and the President playfully discussing children's books and the greatness of Dr. Seuss.
During the two-segment long Nightline interview, Tapper hyped, "At the school where we spoke, the President showed off his personal knowledge of children's books." The journalist informed Obama, "I'm a big Dr. Seuss guy." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Though the Fast and Furious scandal of allowing of guns to be sold and taken into Mexico didn't make it to air, the transcript can be found on ABCNews.com. (It was also promoted on ABC News' website.) Tapper quizzed, "The Justice Department, the ATF was moving guns and some of them were tied to crime scenes. What was your response when you first heard about it?"
The President gave a lengthy answer, stonewalling responsibility: "This is not something we were aware of in the White House and the Attorney General it turns out wasn't aware of either. Obviously Eric Holder has launched a full investigation of this, it is not acceptable for us to allow guns to go into Mexico."
On the subject of the demonstrations in New York, the reporter wondered, "Some of the frustration has come out in this Occupy Wall Street protest. You've expressed sympathy with their position, their feeling of powerlessness."
Unlike MSNBC's Martin Bashir on Tuesday, he didn't mention the radical nature of some of the protesters, the anti-Semitism or violence.
Also absent was any mention of a key defeat for Obama on an important part of Obamacare, the Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act (CLASS). Last week CLASS was killed by the administration. As of yesterday, the big three networks had devoted a mere 40 seconds.
At one point, Tapper empathized, "There's a little tone of frustration and one of your friends told me that you are deeply frustrated and worried about the economy."
On another occasion, he sympathetically told Obama, "It's grueling, though, this stuff [doing constant events]. Do you like it?"
Tapper should be given credit for being one of the few journalists to cover issues such as Fast and Furious. Additionally, he did press the President on falling poll numbers, asserting, "The math is tough for you. 47 percent of the country voted against you with everything going your way, pretty much."
Tapper added, "It's not difficult to think that there are four million Americans who think, 'Well, I gave him a shot, it didn't work, unemployment is still high, let's give this another guy a chance.'"
However, it would be nice if more of his tough questions made it to air and the stories on Dr. Seuss were cut.
A partial transcript of the October 18 Nightline segment can be found below:
JAKE TAPPER: There's a little edge. There's a little tone of frustration and one of your friends told me that you are deeply frustrated and worried about the economy.
BARACK OBAMA: If you hear a sense of urgency in my voice, it's because these problems are solvable. But you don't get a sense that we're moving in Washington with the sense of urgency that's required.
TAPPER: We're sitting in a state right now where a majority of the votes disapprove of your handling of the economy. We're going to Virginia later where a majority of voters think you do not deserve to be reelected.
OBAMA: The fact is that the American people are rightly frustrated over what they see as a system in which responsibility is not always rewarded. That sense of the American dream is slipping away. I think that is something that helped get me elected but it hasn't been entirely solved yet.
TAPPER: Some of the frustration has come out in this Occupy Wall Street protest. You've expressed sympathy with their position, their feeling of powerlessness.
OBAMA: What I've said is that I understand the frustrations that are being expressed in those protests. In some ways, they're not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party. You know, both on the left and the right. I think people feel separated from their government. They feel that their institutions aren't looking out for them.
TAPPER: But the President's argument on this trip is pointed. He's saying that Republicans are the ones not looking out for them.
OBAMA: Maybe they just couldn't understand the whole thing all at once. So we're going to break it up into bite-size pieces.
TAPPER: Republicans who block his legislation, his most recent defeat, the jobs bill that failed in the Senate and now will be broken up into parts. It seems like sometimes your pitch, or the White House pitch is, you're almost a victim in this. "It's the mean Republicans that are blocking me." You've really gotten a lot done.
OBAMA: I don't say that we're victimized. What I say is that we've got too little of the kind of let's work together attitude in Washington that we need. And that's been true since I came into office. And that's just a fact.
TAPPER: The component the president focused on today is $30 billion in aid to states to save teacher's jobs.
TAPPER: At the school where we spoke, the President showed off his personal knowledge of children's books.
OBAMA: Now, what's your favorite- What are some of your favorites?
TAPPER: I'm a big Dr. Seuss guy.
OBAMA: You can't beat Dr. Seuss.
OBAMA: He's classic.
OBAMA: Lazy Mazie? You know?
TAPPER: I don't know that one.
OBAMA: You know, when Horton is sitting on the egg and Horton flies away.
TAPPER: I haven't gotten up to the Horton ones yet.
OBAMA: You haven't?
TAPPER: We left the school as the President made his way to his next stop . Do you worry about our kids not having a better life than we did? You and I are both dads with young kids.
TAPPER: The math is tough for you. 47 percent of the country voted against you with everything going your way, pretty much. It's not difficult to think that there are four million Americans who think, "Well, I gave him a shot, it didn't work, unemployment is still high, let's give this another guy a chance."