Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on FNC's 'Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

CNN's Henry Sees Obama Moment on Beach that Would've Driven Media Mockery of Bush

Shortly before 2 PM CDT, CNN"s Ed Henry cited a dismissive remark President Barack Obama made during his visit to Louisiana which could undermine his "I feel your pain" message, "but," Henry observed live from a beach in Grand Isle:

If George W. Bush had made a comment like that along the beach after Katrina, you can imagine the kind of criticism he might get.

Henry recounted how a little earlier a New York Times reporter - displaying some surprising pushback against environmentalist exaggeration - pointed out to Obama how there are tar balls "'even when there's not an oil spill,'" so: "'How do we know this is from the oil spill and not just tar that's washed up? I've even seen it,' the reporter said, 'it's even popped up in my bathing suit.'"

To which, Henry recited, "the President made a little joke, saying 'I want to hear a little bit more about that tar in your bathing suit, maybe we'll hear about that sometime.' Which is just an offhand moment. Don't want to make too big of a deal out of it. But if George W. Bush had made a comment like that along the beach after Katrina, you can imagine the kind of criticism he might get."

This is still a fresh incident, so there's plenty of opportunity for journalists to demonstrate a willingness to treat Obama as they would have Bush. The New York Times story posted online this afternoon about Obama's trip to Louisiana, however, doesn't mention the exchange involving their own reporter.

Henry on CNN at 2:50 PM EDT on Friday, May 28:

Interesting, a little while ago, I mentioned this tar in my hand - the oil and the sand mixed up. Some of the comments the President made earlier when walking the beach, there was a reporter from the New York Times saying, "Look, I've seen this tar before on normal beaches even when there's not an oil spill. How do we know this is from the oil spill and not just tar that's washed up? I've even seen it," the reporter said, "it's even popped up in my bathing suit."

And the President made a little joke, saying "I want to hear a little bit more about that tar in your bathing suit, maybe we'll hear about that sometime." Which is just an offhand moment. Don't want to make too big of a deal out of it. But if George W. Bush had made a comment like that along the beach after Katrina, you can imagine the kind of criticism he might get. And I think those kind of little moments can trip a President up when they're trying to send the message that "I get it, I'm here to feel your pain." And then there are these little moments that might take you off that stride, just ever so slightly.

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.