Networks Hype 'Steamy' Details from Obama's Ex-Girlfriend, Downplay False 'Composite' Relationship

May 3rd, 2012 12:37 PM

Wednesday's nightly newscasts and Thursday's morning shows hyped "steamy," "romantic" journal entries from an ex-girlfriend of Barack Obama, but downplayed or ignored revelations that his autobiography created a "composite" relationship of multiple women.

On Thursday's Today, Natalie Morales gossiped like a school girl: "Steamy journal entries from a long-ago ex-girlfriend of President Obama are heating up the internet..." She revealed important details such as the fact that his apartment smelled like "running sweat" and "raisins." However, Morales skipped the fact that, as reported by Politico, "the 'New York girlfriend' was actually a composite character, based off of multiple girlfriends he had both in New York City and in Chicago." [Video of Diane Sawyer's recap below. See audio here.]

Diane Sawyer also didn't mention the compression information during Wednesday's World News.

Instead, she recounted the details and gushed, "Oh, we were all so romantic when we were young."

On Thursday's Good Morning America, Jake Tapper did explain the compression, though in passing: "But Obama morphed a few inter-racial relationships into one composite in that book to discuss racial issues, providing few other details."

He informed viewers, "Young Barack Obama was trying to figure out just who he was."

CBS This Morning co-anchor Charlie Rose could barely contain his excitement over studying Obama's early days: "What comes across here is the notion that this is a young man clearly with a remarkable ability, but who was also ambitious."

Rose enthused that Obama "really had a plan and was looking to find his own way to the things that he wanted to do, which I find not unusual for someone of his talent."

The co-host interviewed historian Douglas Brinkley. He at least raised the issue of mashing together the stories of multiple girlfriends, acknowledging, "I mean, there's a lot of compression that President Obama used in his book. Some of the women that we read about now in the Vanity Fair piece were compressed by the President."

Wednesday's Nightly News and the CBS Evening News did not cover the story at all.

Obama admitted to practicing compression in the introduction to the 1995 book Dreams From My Father: He allowed, "For the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people I've known, and some events appear out of precise chronology."

But Obama never explained, until now, which people and their stories were compressed and altered. One would think this is something journalists would be interested in.

A transcript of Thursday's Today segment and Wednesday's World News segment can be found below:


NATALIE MORALES: Steamy journal entries from a long-ago ex-girlfriend of President Obama are heating up the internet and providing some new insight into the President's time as a college student in New York. In excerpts from a new book, Genevieve Cook describes the unique aroma in Obama's bedroom as a mix of running sweat, Brut spray deodorant, smoking, eating raisins, sleeping, breathing. And of their relationship, she acknowledges, quote, "sexual warmth." But Cook writes when she told the young Obama she loved him, his reply was "thank you."


DIANE SAWYER: One of the perils of being president: Everything you ever wrote will become public. And today, Barack Obama, age 22, long before he met Michelle, new letters and diary entries revealed in Vanity Fair from a biography out soon. He had college girlfriends, two women, there is one of them, Genevieve Cook and Alex McNear. And in a letter to McNear, the future president writes adoringly about life in New York. Quote, "Moments trip gently along over here. Snow caps the bushes in unexpected ways. Birds shoot and spin like balls of sound. My feet hum over the dry walks." Oh, we were all so romantic when we were young. The book relies on a trove of letters and journal entries that Obama and his friends created during the  1980s.