President Barack Obama doesn't have to do too much to impress ABC News. A little more than five weeks after the fill-in anchor of World News effused over two-week-old photos of Obama “serving cookies” on Super Bowl night while an awed George Stephanopoulos glowed over how “these are just remarkable....we've never really seen anything like this before in real time,” on Thursday night the newscast devoted a full story to “a White House first” of answering questions via the Internet. (NBC Nightly News didn't air a syllable about the stunt and the CBS Evening News allocated 38 seconds centered around Obama's response to whether marijuana should be legalized in order to boost the economy.)
ABC anchor Charles Gibson excitedly announced:
At the White House today, something never done before. As a candidate, Barack Obama was adept at using the Internet to raise money and get his message out. Now, as President, he's using the Internet again in a way that no President ever has before.
“In lieu of boarding carbon-unfriendly Air Force One to hold town hall meetings around the country,” reporter Jake Tapper relayed, “today President Obama brought the mountain to Mohammed.”
Though ABC's coverage, and live carriage earlier in the day on the cable news channels, disproved the need to go around the mainstream media, Tapper explained: “White House officials have been making great efforts to have President Obama reach outside what they call the traditional media filter and speak directly to the American people.”
My February 16 NewsBusters posting, “ABC Giddy Over 'Presidential Whirlwind' & 'Remarkable' Photos of Obama Passing Out Cookies,” recounted, with video:
Get Diane Sawyer together with George Stephanopoulos on World News and they can't contain their giddiness over President Obama. Back on Friday, January 23, when Sawyer last anchored, Stephanopoulos hailed Obama's first three days as “disciplined and strategic,” thus enabling “sweeping change,” while Sawyer gushed over “change...at warp speed.” Monday night, Sawyer returned to the anchor chair and excitedly announced how “the trillion dollar week has begun” and so “finally,” as if it's been too long of a wait, “the stimulus starts to flow.” She soon heralded how “we embark on a week like no other in American economic history” with “a presidential whirlwind of spending against a recession.”
After a story from David Muir on the “dizzying and daunting amount of federal spending that President Obama will tackle this week,” Sawyer brought Stephanopoulos aboard to admire what Sawyer described as a “scrapbook, if you will, of the President's journey on the road to the stimulus package.” In other words, photos released by the White House. Nonetheless, she effused: “I want to show everybody at home, because there is the President, it's Super Bowl night, and he's serving cookies to congressional leadership in the White House screening room.”
The narration switched to an awed Stephanopoulos: “These are just remarkable, Diane. We've never really seen anything like this before in real time.” Over a picture of Obama leaning back in a chair he oozed: “You see the President taking a little bit of a well-deserved rest right there.” Sawyer matched Stephanopoulos' smile: “Yeah, I wonder how often they'll take that scrapbook out and look through those pictures.”...
From the Thursday, March 26 World News on ABC:
Gibson's tease: “Virtual hall. A White House first. The President holds a town hall meeting on the Internet, fielding questions from across the country.”
The top of the subsequent story:
CHARLES GIBSON: At the White House today, something never done before. As a candidate, Barack Obama was adept at using the Internet to raise money and get his message out. Now, as President, he's using the Internet again in a way that no President ever has before. Jake Tapper is at the White House tonight on the North lawn. Jake?
JAKE TAPPER: Good evening, Charlie. Well, lately, White House officials have been making great efforts to have President Obama reach outside what they call the traditional media filter and speak directly to the American people and today's virtual town hall meeting is just the latest example. In lieu of boarding carbon-unfriendly Air Force One to hold town hall meetings around the country, today President Obama brought the mountain to Mohammed.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When I was running for President I promised to open up the White House to the American people.
TAPPER: Some 93,000 people submitted more than 104,000 questions through the Internet. They also voted which questions should be asked from categories such as education, housing and health care reform.
MAN READING QUESTION: From Richard in California: “Why can we not have a universal health care system like many European countries?”....
Tapper also highlighted the marijuana question.