Sunday, March 22, 2009


Politico, not even making the slightest attempt to conceal its desire for the Holy Grail, a Drudge link, pulls a few seconds out of a half-hour Steve Kroft interview of Barack Obama on 60 Minutes, distorts it beyond recognition, puts it up as the current lead item, and -- yes -- gets that Drudge link. (And -- calling Dr. Pavlov -- a lot of right-wing blog attention.)

The story:

Kroft to Obama: Are you punch-drunk?

President Barack Obama said he believes the global financial system remains at risk of implosion with the failure of Citigroup or AIG, touching off "an even more destructive recession and potentially depression."

His remarks came in a "60 Minutes" interview in which he was pressed by an incredulous Steve Kroft for laughing and chuckling several times while discussing the perilous state of the world's economy.

"You're sitting here. And you're -- you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, 'I mean, he's sitting there just making jokes about money--' How do you deal with-- I mean: explain..." Kroft asks at one point.

"Are you punch-drunk?" Kroft says....

Wrong. Wrong. Utterly, utterly wrong. Kroft is not incredulous. It's a sympathetic question ("How do you deal with--"). You have to go to about 13:40 of the first part of the interview to see it (clip below), but it's obvious -- the chuckling is mutual as they agree about the extraordinary unpopularity of bailing out the auto industry.

Oh, and over the course of the thirteen-plus minutes that lead up to that moment, Obama is -- of course -- the least punch-drunk-appearing person you've ever seen.

Watch CBS Videos Online

It's actually a surprisingly sympathetic moment, because a number of Kroft's questions are rooted in Millionaire Pundit Values. From the transcript:


Do you think that the people on Wall Street and the people in the financial community that you need trust you, believe-- believe in you?...

There is a perception right now, at least in New York, which is where I live and work.




That, um, people feel they thought that you were going to be supportive.

Er, Steve? You obviously don't live in my New York, where we stupidly thought the Masters of the Universe were going to be supportive of us, or that at least they'd have such a great banquet that we, or at least our 401(k)s, would thrive on their table scraps. And now we don't give a damn if they feel loved or supported.

But that's earlier in the interview. And Obama fields the question cleanly. And doesn't look at all punch-drunk.


UPDATE: If you want just the "punch-drunk" moment, here it is:

National Review's Greg Pollowitz, heretofore a scathing denouncer of WALL-E and a mocker of Gwen Ifill's broken ankle, calls Obama's laugh "creepy." Really?

And I mean that as more than a rhetorical question? Do the wingnuts really react to Obama this way? Or do they know that he's effective in these mass-media appearances and realize they have to do everything in their power to blunt the impact of these appearances, which twice in the last week meant singling out one moment and trying to make it rather than the rest of the twenty-odd minutes into the story?

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