CBS Hosts, NYT’s Kantor Laud Obama’s ‘Above the Fray, Unifying, Nonpartisan Tone’

Fresh off her glowing column on Sunday polishing First Lady Michelle Obama’s apple, author and New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor appeared on Monday’s CBS This Morning to similarly praise President Obama for being “a big believer in taking a kind of above the fray, unifying, nonpartisan tone.”

Kantor was joined in her fawning praise by all three CBS co-hosts (including Obama family friend Gayle King) with Charlie Rose touting Obama’s “concern about media in the future in terms of social media, in terms of fake news and all of that.”

Appearing on the network morning newscast to plug the reissue of her 2012 book Obamas, Kantor lamented that the President will face “very tricky circumstances” in delivering his Tuesday night farewell speech seeing as how “he is about to hand the keys to the White House to a man who he disagrees with on a really fundamental level” and “rose to power in part by smearing him.”

It was next that Kantor dropped this dud on viewers by describing her perceived ideology of the administration that’s refused to accept responsibility for any of their party’s losses:

He is beginning to set up some of the opposition to Donald Trump for the next four years and yet, as we know, President Obama is a big believer in taking a kind of above the fray, unifying, nonpartisan tone. So, what I'm really waiting to see is what is the message he chooses to deliver to the American people about how they should navigate the next four years.

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Turning to his ongoing lectures of his friends in the media, Rose noted his “concern about the media” in various exit interviews with the rise of fake news and Kantor couldn’t have agreed more.
                    
“Frankly, I think President Obama understood the threat of fake news before the rest of us, right? Because he was, in a way, the patient zero. He was the victim of those rumors that he was not born — spread by the way, by President-elect Trump — that he was not born in the U.S,” Kantor ruled before lamenting the “fake partisan rumors about the death panels” in 2010 after the ObamaCare debate.

Noting that the Obamas won’t be able to have “a much more relaxed post-presidency” because Hillary Clinton lost, Kantor wallowed in how “there's a whole new set of pressures” on Barack and Michelle Obama “to rebuild the Democratic party which needs a lot of work.” 

She quickly and foolishly added that “[t]he country is really going to want to keep hearing from him” despite precedent of former presidents and first ladies “keeping quiet.”

Turning to Michelle Obama, Kantor boasted that her book provides “the kind of behind-the-scenes story of the pressure that was on her as the first African-American First Lady” but resulted in her being “in a real throwback of a role” eventually leading to her “find[ing] her voice very much so.”

It was here that King and Rose couldn’t keep their emotions in check with adoring praise for her final public remarks on Friday:

O’DONNELL: What do you expect from her now? 

KANTOR:  — so, she did find her voice very much so as First Lady. It was kind of an edited version of her real voice. 

KING: You heard her voice on Friday when she said it was the greatest honor to be the First Lady of this country. 

KANTOR: Well, and so —

ROSE: Very emotional.

KING: Yes, very emotional. 

KANTOR: That speech really resonated with people over the weekend and I thought it was in part because she really was quite direct, right? I mean, she was above it all. She was gracious, but her chief message was to young people. And she said, do not be afraid, you know. Go build a country worthy of your promise and so there — even as she was very gracious and polite, there was a forcefulness and a drive that came through with that message. 

KING: Well, I don't think we've heard the last of either Barack or Michelle Obama. 

KANTOR: I’m sure you’re right about that.

KING: — after January 20. I'm pretty sure about that. 

Here’s the relevant portion of the transcript from January 9's CBS This Morning:

CBS This Morning
January 9, 2017
8:34 a.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Farewell Address; NYT’s Kantor on Obama’s Speech, Legacy and Regrets]

NORAH O’DONNELL: So, ever since George Washington, presidents have been giving farewell addresses, but President Obama will be the first to return to his hometown to deliver such a speech. What are you hearing that he’ll say? 
    
JODI KANTOR: Well, under very tricky circumstances, right? Because he is about to hand the keys to the White House to a man who he disagrees with on a really fundamental level, right? So —

O’DONNELL: Well, who questioned Obama's legitimacy, birthplace.

KANTOR: Exactly. Who rose to power in part by smearing him. So the President has a really tricky job to do, right? Because on the one hand he wants to defend his legacy. He is beginning to set up some of the opposition to Donald Trump for the next four years and yet, as we know, President Obama is a big believer in taking a kind of above the fray, unifying, nonpartisan tone. So, what I'm really waiting to see is what is the message he chooses to deliver to the American people about how they should navigate the next four years. 

CHARLIE ROSE: Well, I'm guessing that one of the things he's going to talk about in reading a lot of these sort of legacy things he's doing, there's always a conversation and some concern about media in the future in terms of social media, in terms of fake news and all of that. 

KANTOR: I think you're absolutely right and when I went back and reread my own book and what I reported several years ago —

GAYLE KING: You reread your own book? 

KANTOR:  — I did. That with us one of the things that jumped out to me. Frankly, I think President Obama understood the threat of fake news before the rest of us, right? Because he was, in a way, the patient zero. He was the victim of those rumors that he was not born — spread by the way, by President-elect Trump — that he was not born in the U.S. If you remember in the summer of 2010, there were a lot of fake partisan rumors about the death panels and how the Democrats, you know, wanted to make decisions — end of life-decisions for people and President Obama was so concerned about this throughout the presidency and I think a few years ago, the rest of us actually didn't quite see what he was seeing. 

KING: Well, he came in on the message of hope and the interviews that Charlie was talking about — the exit interviews that we’ve seen so far, he still keeps talking about the hope and optimism that he has even though the election didn't go the way he thought or had hoped that it would. 

KANTOR: Right but think about — I mean, the Obamas as, you know, my book and plenty of other pieces have journalism chronicle, they've been under extraordinary criticism for years. And if Hillary had won, they would be having like a much more valedictory performance, right? And a much more relaxed post-presidency. Now there's a whole new set of pressures on them — right —to speak to the moment, speak to the Trump moment, to rebuild the Democratic party which needs a lot of work. They're really two of the only unifying figures left in a Democratic Party that have been torn a by results of this election. So the idea that they can sort of fly off for a very long Hawaiian vacation I think has disappeared. The country is really going to want to keep hearing from him. On the other hand, there is a tradition of former presidents and first ladies, you know, kind of keeping quiet. 

O’DONNELL: Michelle Obama, Harvard trained lawyer, a woman who’s been successful in her own right and you even write about in the piece even in The New York Times this weekend, though, about how many times, though, she tried to steer away from controversy. 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Michelle’s Moment; NYT’s Kantor on Obama’s First Lady Approach]

KANTOR: Yes, so I reported in my book the kind of behind-the-scenes story of the pressure that was on her as the first African-American First Lady. She was in a real throwback of a role. It's really a role that First Ladies have always found difficult and she — 

O’DONNELL: What do you expect from her now? 

KANTOR:  — so, she did find her voice very much so as First Lady. It was kind of an edited version of her real voice.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential 2012 Presidential 2008 Presidential Trump transition Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats CBS CBS This Morning New York Times Video Government & Press Gayle King President Obama President Barack Obama Jodi Kantor Charlie Rose Norah O'Donnell Barack Obama Michelle Obama Donald Trump
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