PBS’s Ifill Knocks Indiana Town for Not Enthusiastically Supporting Obama; ‘What Gives?’

Barely a minute into Wednesday’s PBS town hall event with President Barack Obama, PBS NewsHour co-host Gwen Ifill took a few digs at the people of Elkhart, Indiana where the event was being held for not giving Obama “any credit” for their unemployment drop to the point that she exclaimed: “What gives?”

The town hall, which was designed to have the President take questions from the audience, began with Ifill explaining that Wednesday’s visit to Elkhart by the President was his “fifth visit to the once and again R.V. Capital of the world, a small city where the unemployment rate hit 19.6 percent his first year in office, and now has dropped to about four percent.” 

Taking into no consideration things that the townspeople or local and state governments may have done to improve business, Ifill went right to wondering why “this White House isn't get any credit for that turnaround.”

Ifill noted that the town backed then-candidate Ted Cruz in the state’s GOP primary plus “Mitt Romney by two to one in 2012” and John McCain in 2008 “[e]ven when President Obama won Indiana in 2008, just as the economy was crashing.”

In what can be described as a poor choice of words at the minimum, Ifill blurted out before welcoming the President onto the stage: “So what gives? We've asked some of the people who live here to join us on the stage of the beautiful Lerner Theater here in downtown for an intimate conversation.”

The liberal host spent the next few moments talking to the President before the audience took over with the questioning and for the first one, Ifill wondered what Donald Trump’s campaign slogan meant to the President: “But I first want to ask why talking to you a little bit about this campaign. What do you think it means when you hear the words ‘Let’s Make America Great Again?’”

When the President brought up the economy in his answer, Ifill followed up by again taking a dig at Elkhart and across the country for still “think[ing] the deficits have gone up and the jobless rate has gone up and in fact that their lives have not improved.”

Later, Ifill arguably tried to play the race card when she inquired with the President about whether or not Trump’s rise has to do with the President “personally”: “Do you consider at all that any of the support for him is backlash against you personally.”

The relevant portions of the transcript from PBS’s Questions for President Obama — A PBS NewsHour Special on June 1 can be found below.

PBS’s Questions for President Obama — A PBS NewsHour Special
June 1, 2016
8:01 p.m. Eastern

GWEN IFILL: Good evening, and welcome to Elkhart, Indiana, as we sit down with President Obama and the residents of this community to discuss their concerns, look back on his time in office, and assess the feverish campaign to succeed him. This marks the President's fifth visit to the once and again R.V. Capital of the world, a small city where the unemployment rate hit 19.6 percent his first year in office, and now has dropped to about four percent, but this White House isn't get any credit for that turnaround. Residents here voted for Ted Cruz in this year's primaries, and Mitt Romney by two to one in 2012. Even when President Obama won Indiana in 2008, just as the economy was crashing, Elkhart went with John McCain. So what gives? We've asked some of the people who live here to join us on the stage of the beautiful Lerner Theater here in downtown for an intimate conversation. But first, the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

(....)

IFILL: But I first want to ask why talking to you a little bit about this campaign. What do you think it means when you hear the words “Let’s Make America Great Again?”

(....)

IFILL: And, yet, many people — including probably some folks in this room — think the deficits have gone up and the jobless rate has gone up and in fact that their lives have not improved. How — in fact, we have the nominee for — the presumptive nominee for the Republican party saying — Donald Trump — saying America is a third world nation. How do you persuade — or I suppose how does your likely Democratic successor, possible, persuade anybody that's not true?

(....)

IFILL: Do you consider at all that any of the support for him is backlash against you personally?


Please support NewsBusters today! [a 501(c)(3) non-profit production of the Media Research Center]

DONATE

Or, book travel through MRC’s Travel Discounts Program! MRC receives a rebate for each booking when you use our special codes.

BOOK NOW
Tell the Truth 2016 NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Economy Personal Finance Unemployment Wages & Prices Media Bias Debate Political Groups Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats PBS News Hour Video Government & Press President Obama President Barack Obama Gwen Ifill Barack Obama
Curtis Houck's picture