CNN's O'Brien Hits Clinton on AIDS Spending
Coming just 24 days before Christmas, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien practically accused Bill Clinton of playing Ebenezer Scrooge with the global AIDS problem. Her complaint? He didn’t spend enough of the taxpayers’ money when he was president.
The occasion for criticizing the liberal Democrat from the left was “American Morning” devoting the bulk of its December 1 program to World AIDS Day.
“We’re searching for a cure and telling stories of hope on this World AIDS Day 2006,” O’Brien teased as she narrated the opening credits to the “American Morning” at 6 a.m. The diagnosis from O’Brien: the government should throw more taxpayer money at the problem.
“President Bush has committed $15 billion over 5 years to the fight against HIV/AIDS globally,” O’Brien noted, lamenting that during Clinton’s watch, “the Congress was much less willing to pony up” the money. “Do you look back now and say, if only we put the cash in early, we could have made a big difference,” the CNN anchor pressed the former president, who appeared in a satellite interview taped November 30.
Earlier in the program, O’Brien presented viewers with an interview with freshman liberal Democratic Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), a prospective 2008 presidential contender.
“We spoke earlier in the week about the government’s role and whether President Bush’s emergency plan for AIDS relief, which is called PEPFAR goes far enough with its $15 billion commitment,” O’Brien said as she set up the interview.
Obama lauded Bush’s spending initiative but insisted it wasn’t enough. “I would like to see increased funding” to the tune of “a billion dollars a year,” he suggested.
Lobbing another softball, O’Brien asked Obama why among “a gajillion causes that you as a U.S. Senator would focus on, to give your name to” AIDS.
The CNN anchor did not similarly press Obama over why more American tax dollars should go to AIDS, a disease spread by avoidable risk factors such as promiscuous sex and needle-sharing, rather than other devastating diseases plaguing the Third World like malaria or tuberculosis.