60 Minutes's Kroft Lobs Them Nice and Easy to Obama and Biden

Yikes. The only thing missing from Steve Kroft's interview with Barack Obama and Joe Biden on CBS's 60 Minutes (Sun. 8/31/08) was an "Obama/Biden '08" button on Kroft's lapel. As NB's Brent Baker has already noted, Kroft teed one up for Obama by presuming Sarah Palin had "less experience" than he did. But take a look at some of the softball questions Kroft lobbed at Obama and Biden:

  • (To Obama backstage at the Convention last week:) "Did you ever doubt it (your nomination) was going to happen?"
  • (To Biden backstage at the Convention:) "Were you surprised to be up there (on stage with Obama)?"
  • The sit-down:

  • (To Obama:) "What do you think of Sen. McCain's vice presidential choice?"
  • (To Obama:) "Does the fact that he (McCain) chose as his vice president someone who has less experience than you take away that weapon out of his arsenal?"
  • (To Biden:) "Have you two talked, have you spoken specifically, about what your role would be in an Obama administration?" (Obama jumped in to answer, and Kroft didn't stop him!)
  • (To Biden:) "What's your role in the campaign? Can you make a difference in this race? And how do you do that?"

Blistering, eh? But there's more:

  • (To Obama:) "But one of the weaknesses in turn of this campaign is that there are people out there who don't think that you have a punch, that you are not that - that - killer instinct, that you are very deliberate, judicious person, who prides himself on building consensus, but it is not in your DNA to be confrontational." (Even Obama laughed at this one. Kroft also failed to tell us who these "people out there" are who have said such things about Obama in the first place.)
  • (To Obama:) "You've just come through a very historic week. I mean, politically, this was a real milestone in American history. But yet there was almost no mention made of it." (Apparently Kroft didn't pick up a newspaper or turn on a television in the last week.) "You made no mention of it, and the Democratic Party made no mention of it, almost no mention of it. Why is that? You're the first black person ever to be nominated by a major party." (Obama's response: "I think people noticed that.") (Great question, Steve ...)
  • (To Obama): "You are running against the record of an administration that is one of the most unpopular in history of the country." (Hey, Steve. Exactly what position does McCain hold inside the Bush administration?) "And there are people that believe that you should be much farther ahead in the polls than you are. What do you say to that? And are you comfortable with the way this race is going and where you are right now?"

Gee, you'd think with Kroft claiming that the Bush administration is the "most unpopular" in history, we'd hear some hard-hitting questions about some specifics about what these two plan to do if elected. Iraq? Iran? Afghanistan? Russia? The Middle East? The economy? International trade? Energy solutions? Healthcare? Abortion? Education? None of these issues were addressed.

The closest that Kroft came to even being the slightest bit challenging was when he addressed Obama's attempts to attract blue-collar voters by drinking beer and bowling. Kroft told Obama that "I know you don't particularly like [to drink beer]." Obama responded with near outrage and firmly asserted he did like beer! "I had a beer last night! I mean, where do these stories come from, man? Where does the story come from that I don't like beer? C'mon, man."

As for his bowling excursion, Obama claimed, "The reason I bowled wasn't to try to get votes ... The reason I was there was to campaign." Kroft didn't bother to ask Obama what the difference between "trying to get votes" and "campaigning" is.


There was also this little exchange between Kroft and Biden:

KROFT: You've had from time to time put your foot in your mouth. I'm sure Sen. Obama is aware of that.

BIDEN (laughing): Everyone's aware of it.

Kroft offered no examples, though he had plenty to choose from. No embarrassing videotape. Nothing. Kroft continued:

KROFT: There was an issue in 1988 involving plagiarism, which I'm sure the Republicans are working on a campaign commercial now.

BIDEN: I'm sure that's probably true.

Kroft didn't explain how he's so sure that "Republicans are working on a campaign commercial now" about a 20-year-old issue. But, more importantly, Kroft could have asked a challenging question. Instead, look at where Kroft went with it:

KROFT: What have you learned about politics and running for office in those 20 years?

Good ... grief.


Then there was this lame attempt by Kroft:

KROFT: You've had some differences over pretty substantial issues. Iraq, for one.

Biden began his response:

BIDEN: Actually, we haven't.


2008 Presidential 60 Minutes Steve Kroft