Despite devoting almost the entire Good Morning America program on Tuesday to Michael Jackson, ABC could only find three minutes for a hard-hitting Jake Tapper interview with Barack Obama. And even though co-host Diane Sawyer promised at the close of the piece, "And we'll have more of the President's interview with Jake Tapper later in the broadcast," the segment never returned.
Tapper, who was in Moscow to cover Obama's summit with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, quizzed, "Whether it's this summit with President Medvedev, or anything else, can you point to any reason why you're encouraged that your approach to Iran and North Korea is the right approach?"
Tapper also highlighted Vice President Biden's admission that the administration "misread how bad the economy" was when the stimulus was being crafted. He then skeptically asked, "If the diagnosis was, was wrong, how can you be sure that the prescription, the stimulus package, was right?"
(Additionally, the piece suffered from poor editing. At one point a clip of an Obama response was repeated twice.) After Tapper followed-up by pointing out that even supporters such as Colin Powell are now voicing concern about spending, Sawyer closed out the segment by promising more of the interview.
It was not to be. Michael Jackson coverage mostly dominated the remaining 90 minutes of the program. Only a news brief in the 8am hour mentioned Obama, Tapper and the trip to Russia.
A transcript of the July 7 segment, which aired at 7:12am, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: And we turn now to the breaking news on the Russian summit. On Monday, President Obama and Russian President Medvedev signed a preliminary agreement that would slash the world's largest nuclear stockpiles by one-third. And today, the President has squared off against the man he once said has one foot stuck in the old approach to the world and one in the new. Arguably Russia's most powerful and mysterious politician, Vladimir Putin. Senior Washington correspondent Jake Tapper, had a chance to speak with the President in Moscow.
JAKE TAPPER: Whether it's this summit with President Medvedev, or anything else, can you point to any reason why you're encouraged that your approach to Iran and North Korea is the right approach?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Ultimately, you know, we're going to have to see whether a country like Russia, for example, is willing to work with us to apply pressure on Iran, to take a path towards international respectability, as opposed to the path their on. And, you know, that's not something that we're going to know the results of, probably for several more months, as we continue to do the hard, diplomatic work of putting this coalition together to, to tell Iran make the better choice.
TAPPER: On the economy, despite Vice President Biden's recent acknowledgment that the Obama team misread how bad the economy was when they were crafting the stimulus, the President said the stimulus was the right one. If the diagnosis was, was wrong, how can you be sure that the prescription, the stimulus package, was right?
OBAMA: So, there's nothing that we would have done differently. Now, the question that some have argued is, okay, what next? Maybe you have stopped the free-fall. But you have close to ten percent unemployment. And this is something that we wrestle with constantly. It is at a certain point, certainly counterproductive, if we're spending more money than we're having to borrow.
TAPPER: And supporters like Warren Buffett and Colin Powell are voicing their concerns.
OBAMA: And they have got legitimate concerns in terms of the mid-term and long-term. We're going to have to get control of that. [sic. Appears to be bad editing.] And they have got legitimate concerns in terms of the mid-term and long-term. We're going to have to get control of that.
TAPPER: The President said why he understood why many Americans are more focused on Michael Jackson's funeral today.
OBAMA: This is part of American culture. You know, Michael Jackson, like Elvis, like Sinatra. When somebody who has captivated the imagination of the country for that long passes away, people pay attention. And I assume at some point, people will start focusing again on things like nuclear weapons.
TAPPER: Sasha and Malia-
DIANE SAWYER: And we'll have more of the President's interview with Jake Tapper later in the broadcast.
CHRIS CUOMO: We have progress to report in the meeting between President Obama and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. This morning, they discussed their concerns about terrorism and nuclear proliferation, one day after both nations agreed to reduce their nuclear stockpiles. Last week, President Obama criticized Putin for doing things the old world way. But, after today's meeting, one aide says the President is convinced Putin is taking a more modern approach. In an interview with our Jake Tapper, the President said we'll have to wait and see if Russia will help apply pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program.