CNN's Cooper Actually Deviates from Palin with 'Game Change' Authors

John Heilemann, New York Magazine; Mark Halperin, Time Magazine; & Anderson Cooper, CNN Anchor | On Monday’s Anderson Cooper 360, CNN’s Anderson Cooper extensively questioned authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann about their new book “Game Change” on subjects other than Sarah Palin, unlike his earlier interview of the writers on 60 Minutes. Most of the two segments from the interview dealt with Bill and Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2008 presidential election and in the Obama transition.

During the first segment, which began 20 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour, Cooper only briefly touched on Senator Harry Reid’s “Negro dialect” comment about President Obama, asking one question on the topic. For the remaining five minutes of the segment, and for the additional five minutes of the second segment, the CNN anchor questioned Halperin and Heilemann about several episodes involving the Clintons during the Democratic presidential primary race, and about Obama choosing Hillary Clinton to be secretary of state. These ten minutes on his CNN program is practically the same amount of time Cooper devoted to the subject of Sarah Palin during his 60 Minutes interview of the authors.

Cooper revisited the race issue when he raised the subject of Bill Clinton’s “coffee remark” to Ted Kennedy about then Senator Obama during the second segment minutes later:
COOPER: Pivotal moment during the campaign when Senator Ted Kennedy endorses then Senator Obama. Page 218, you write that one of the key factors in the endorsement was Bill Clinton, who had been courting Senator Kennedy for quite some time, trying to get him to endorse his wife, and that he says something- he says to Obama- he says about Senator Obama, according to your sources, something to the effect of, ‘A few years ago this guy would have been getting us coffee.’

HEILEMANN: Now, Bill Clinton was, like Hillary Clinton, had been a great admirer of Barack Obama’s when he first rose to the Senate. He thought he had an enormous amount of potential. But it was just that- it was potential. Bill Clinton did not think that Barack Obama was ready to be president of the United States. Thought that Hillary was, had a vast greater degree of policy expertise and experience, thought she was better suited for the job, and could not believe that the Democratic Party was about to give the nomination to this guy who he felt was still an apprentice politician in some ways.

After the Iowa caucuses, he was enraged and he would- he sat in a suite in Iowa the night that he learned Hillary had come in third, and he said- you know, ‘What has this guy done? He got to the Senate. He was there for a year, and he’s been running for president. That doesn’t qualify you to be president.’ His anger carried over into the days after Iowa, and Ted Kennedy- Chris Dodd, his good friend, had just quit the race after Iowa. Ted Kennedy was now in play. His endorsement was up for grabs. Kennedy had been drifting towards Obama over the course of the year. His daughter- I’m sorry, his wife, Vicki, his niece, Caroline, had both had become enamored of Obama. He himself had become enamored of Obama, but he was still on the fence. He was still wavering, trying to decide whether he would endorse anyone in the race.

Bill Clinton calls him a few days after the Iowa caucuses and becomes very emotional and very heated with Kennedy. They get in a huge argument on the phone, and the culmination of that argument is Bill Clinton saying the quote that you mentioned: ‘A few years ago, this guy would have been serving us coffee,’ demeaning Obama in a way that Senator Kennedy, at least, interpreted as having kind of a dark, kind of nasty, racial overtone.

COOPER: So Senator Kennedy did believe it had some sort of racial overtone, because you could read it just as- you know, he was inexperienced?

HEILEMANN: Correct. Kennedy was enraged by it, and it colored- not to do a pun- but it colored the entire series of conversations that took place over the next few weeks between Senator Kennedy and Senator- and President Clinton. They talked right up to the edge of the South Carolina primary, when Ted Kennedy finally did decide to endorse Obama. And literally, in that last phone call, when Kennedy informed President Clinton that he was going to endorse Obama, Clinton came right out and said to him- he said, ‘The only reason you're endorsing Barack Obama is because he’s black,’ which kind of put the icing on the cake for Ted Kennedy, in terms of making him kind of realize that this is really what he wanted to do. He was with Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton had completely turned him off.
Earlier in the segment, Halperin actually gushed over Mrs. Clinton as he discussed her apparent reluctance to accept the nomination for the secretary of state position:
HALPERIN: ...Hillary Clinton was so sure, going into that phone call with Obama, that she was going to say no, that she had her staff prepare a statement that she was going to read the next day.

COOPER: You actually have the statement in the book.

HALPERIN: Right, and every time I read it I get goose bumps, because it’s a kind of a parallel reality, where she explains why she turned him down. As much as she’s a patriot and believes you don’t tell the president-elect or the president no, that’s what she planned to do. Her staff was all ready. They had the announcement. They were all ready to have a press event where she would read it, and instead, she woke up the next morning, called Obama and said, ‘You know what? I’m going to do it.’
After the end of the second segment with Halperin and Heilemann Cooper outlined that he was going to be playing more segments from the interview later in the week:
COOPER: All this week...we’re going to be having more of our interview with John Heilemann and Mark Halperin about some of the details in this book- each night a different subject. We’re going to look at their reporting on the Edwards, which is frankly fascinating- some really hair-raising and eye-opening stuff about what was going on in the Edwards campaign and between Mrs. Edwards and...Senator Edwards. And then also, we’re going to look at the fascinating details they have for the McCain campaign about the selection process that went into picking Sarah Palin for the vice-presidential nomination.
If only the anchor had devoted as much time to these “fascinating” subjects on 60 Minutes, instead of dealing with apparent dirt about Sarah Palin.
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center