ABC and CBS on Thursday hit Barack Obama from the left, fretting about a lack of diversity for his second term cabinet picks. The two network morning shows ignored substantiative criticism about Treasury Secretary choice Jack Lew, but highlighted the cutesy story of his messy handwriting.
Correspondent Jon Karl chided, "Well, some critics are looking at that emerging second-term cabinet and wondering, where are the women?" He touted a New York Times article fretting about the "all-male look" of the new picks. Karl noted that "the President will have to replace Jack Lew as chief of staff. The top candidates are, you guessed it, men." Rather than worry about meeting a liberal quota, Karl could have noted Lew's total lack of experience in business.
A Wall Street Journal editorial pointed out:
Mr. Lew's nomination will disappoint those (mostly naive CEOs) who were hoping for a second-term agenda more hospitable to business and private economic growth. Save for a stint in Robert Rubin's Citigroup, where Democrats go to monetize their political connections, and a few years as an academic, Mr. Lew is a Washington lifer whose expertise is politics. He brings no special knowledge or experience in economic policy, private industry or global finance....[A]s budget director and chief of staff in the Obama White House, Mr. Lew has been the President's most partisan and implacable negotiator....Mr. Lew is not the economic general you choose if you're looking for tax reform or a bold growth agenda.
Karl moved from gender quotas to an attempt to humanize Lew. He jokingly informed, "...Get ready to see the loopiest signature you've ever seen on a dollar bill. Take a look. This is Jack Lew's actual signature." Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos quipped that it looked "like a slinky."
On Wednesday's Nightly News, Brian Williams continued the light-hearted discussion, seriously suggesting, "So far, the only huge controversy surrounding the Harvard educated two-time head of OMB is his signature, which has been affectionately compared to a six-month-old let loose with a crayon."
On Thursday's CBS This Morning, the show's hosts also mentioned Lew's signature. That was right after Charlie Rose and Gayle King interviewed George W. Bush's Labor Secretary about diversity. Talking to Elaine Chao, King lectured, "So far President Obama’s nominees for his top-level positions are all white men and he's being criticized for that."
(NBC's Today on Thursday did not mention a lack of female nominees.)
The New York Times article by Annie Lowrey that seemed to prompt these stories appeared on the front page of Wednesday's paper. Lowrey huffed, "But experts on the representation of women in government and business said that the White House had more work to do to ensure that women were more equally represented."
A transcrpt of the January 10 GMA segment, which aired at 7:06am EST, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: To the White House, now where President Obama is firming up his team for the second term. This afternoon, he'll announce that White House chief of staff Jack Lew, is his pick for Treasury Secretary, which means for the first time in years, all of the premier cabinet positions will be held by men. ABC's Jon Karl is covering the cabinet shuffle in the White House. Good morning, Jon.
ABC GRAPHIC: Why So Few Women? Men Dominate Second Term
JON KARL: Good morning, George. Well, some critics are looking at that emerging second-term cabinet and wondering, where are the women? Today, it's Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary. Earlier this week, Chuck Hagel for Defense and John Brennan for CIA.
BARACK OBAMA: I'm looking forward to working with these two gentlemen.
KARL: And before that, John Kerry for Secretary of State. Four top appointments since the election. Four men. And then, this. The New York Times published this White House photograph Wednesday, showing the president speaking with top advisers in the Oval Office. Ten people visible, all men. And late Wednesday, Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis announced she's leaving. The third woman in the cabinet heading for the exits. All this prompted Washington Post columnist, Ruth Marcus, to quip, "It's Mad Men goes to Washington, except Peggy's leaving."
[Clip from Mad Men]
WOMAN: It's time for me to move on.
KARL: The White House says such criticism is way off-base.
JAY CARNEY: Women serve in key policy roles here within the White House as they do throughout the administration.
KARL: As soon as that all-male photo hit the New York Times, the White House released a new photo of the day, with a slightly different look. Overall, about 43 percent of the President's appointees have been women. Considerably more than President Bush. And President Obama chose women for arguably his two most important nominees, to the Supreme Court. Soon, the President will have to replace Jack Lew as chief of staff. The top candidates are, you guessed it, men. And if Jack Lew is confirmed as Treasury Secretary, get ready to see the loopiest signature you've ever seen on a dollar bill. Take a look. This is Jack Lew's actual signature. And that will go on every bill, of course, if he is confirmed as Treasury Secretary. Don't really know what that literally, actually says.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It looks like a slinky, Jon. I know, Jack, he might clean it up a little bit. You talked about the White House chief of staff pick. Likely not today, but McDonough and Klain, both well qualified candidates.
KARL: Absolutely. And both close to the President, especially Denis McDonough. He was actually in the situation room with the president the night of the bin laden raid. Ron Klain is the former chief of staff for Vice President Biden.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And he did the debate prep for the president this year.