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CBS Boosts Obama Adulation, Likens President to Lincoln

On Thursday's CBS This Morning, open Obama supporter Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell repeatedly prompted liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin to equate the newly-reelected President Obama to Abraham Lincoln. O'Donnell wondered, "Is there a lesson for Obama now in his second term with Lincoln?" King hyped how Obama "sought out" the author and asked, "What did he want to know from you?"

Goodwin also bizarrely likened the sixteenth President of the United States to two popular liberal comedians: "I think what shocked me - he could be with Stephen Colbert. He could be with Jon Stewart - one-on-one. I would never have guessed that before."

The morning newscast brought on the historian to discuss her biography, "Team of Rivals", which was used as source material for the upcoming Steven Spielberg film about Lincoln. O'Donnell mentioned the title by name as she set up her question about the current chief executive: "This is about Lincoln and his 'team of rivals' - other people that he was a rival with, and then, he brought into his Cabinet. Is there a lesson for Obama now in his second term with that – with Lincoln?"

Goodwin answered spotlighting the supposed Lincoln-Obama parallels even in his first three years:

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: Oh, I think even in his first term, President Obama tried to bring in – I mean, Hillary [Clinton] was the big rival at the beginning. In fact, somebody asked him early on...would you really be willing to put into your Cabinet a rival, even if his or her spouse were an occasional pain in the butt - of course, referring to Hillary? He quoted Lincoln. He went right back and said, the country's in peril - the strongest people in the country - I want them by my side. He tried to bring Judd Gregg in, the Republican from New England; and he did bring in [Joe] Biden and [Tom] Vilsack. And I think he'll try it again, too.

The liberal writer then bemoaned that "the trouble with our country now: it's so divided that the other party might feel it's a traitorous act to join a Cabinet." Actually, this language is overblown, as Obama kept Bush's defense secretary, Robert Gates, at the beginning of his term, and turned to Republican Ray LaHood to be transportation secretary. Neither drew "traitorous" accusations for serving in the Democratic administration.

King followed up by asking about how the then-presidential candidate "sought out" Goodwin (which, according to a November 2008 interview, took place "early in the primary process"). The guest recounted how Obama "wanted to talk about Lincoln's emotional intelligence...he couldn't believe that this man...was able to surround himself with people who could argue with him."

Near the end of the segment, King read a viewer-submitted question about "the most surprising or shocking thing about a historical event or person" that the historian had found when she researched her book. This is where she name-dropped Colbert and Stewart:

GOODWIN: I think, for me, because I always pictured him as a statesman, and suddenly, I saw that sense of humor. I mean, somebody says to him, at one point, 'Lincoln, you're two-faced.' And he immediately responds, 'If I'd have two faces, do you think I would be wearing this face?' (King laughs) So, I think what shocked me - he could be with Stephen Colbert. He could be with Jon Stewart - one-on-one. I would never have guessed that before I lived with him.

Apparently, Goodwin got so caught up into her research into Lincoln that she thought that she was living in the 1860s - and in the same residence as the first Republican president.

On Monday, MSNBC's Chris Jansing gushed over the apparent "parallels" between Lincoln and Obama that she found "fascinating". Also, correspondent Kevin Tibbles eagerly pointed out Saturday's NBC Nightly News that it was "no coincidence, perhaps, the [Lincoln] film opens the week America's 21st century President won re-election in difficult times fraught with partisan bickering. Times in which many ask, what would Lincoln do?"

The transcript of the relevant portion of the Doris Kearns Goodwin interview from Thursday's CBS This Morning:

NORAH O'DONNELL: This [book] is about Lincoln and his 'team of rivals' - other people that he was a rival with, and then, he brought into his Cabinet. Is there a lesson for Obama now in his second term with that – with Lincoln?

[CBS News Graphic: "Lincolin's Political Genius: Author Behind Spielberg's New Film"]

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, AUTHOR, "TEAM OF RIVALS": Oh, I think even in his first term, President Obama tried to bring in – I mean, Hillary [Clinton] was the big rival at the beginning. In fact, somebody asked him early on - right after he had won the nomination - would you really be willing to put into your Cabinet a rival, even if his or her spouse were an occasional pain in the butt - of course, referring to Hillary? He quoted Lincoln. He went right back and said, the country's in peril - the strongest people in the country - I want them by my side. He tried to bring Judd Gregg in, the Republican from New England; and he did bring in [Joe] Biden and [Tom] Vilsack. And I think he'll try it again, too.

The trouble with our country now: it's so divided that the other party might feel it's a traitorous act to join a Cabinet. And in – even in FDR's time, he brought two top Republicans into his cabinet. He brought businessmen to run his production agencies, because we had a war. We got to figure that now. We are under a common problem to get this economy going again, and I think he'll bring in who he can. The question is, will they come?

GAYLE KING: Is it true that he sought you out, Doris, to talk about Lincoln? What did he want to know from you?

GOODWIN: Well, the interesting thing is, he was still running for the nomination, and I had my cell phone, and I just picked it up one day, and on the other end, it said, hello. This is Barack Obama-

KING: Yes-

GOODWIN: I just finished 'Team of Rivals', and we have to talk. He then wanted to talk about Lincoln's emotional intelligence. He wasn't ready to put people into his Cabinet, but he couldn't believe that this man was able to forgive things that had happened in the past; that he was able to surround himself with people who could argue with him.

KING: Doris, we have a viewer question for you because, you know, we've selected your book. What was the most surprising or shocking thing about a historical event or person that you discovered in your research, if you would?

GOODWIN: I think, for me, because I always pictured him as a statesman, and suddenly, I saw that sense of humor. I mean, somebody says to him, at one point, 'Lincoln, you're two-faced.' And he immediately responds, 'If I'd have two faces, do you think I would be wearing this face?' (King laughs) So, I think what shocked me - he could be with Stephen Colbert. He could be with Jon Stewart - one-on-one. I would never have guessed that before I lived with him.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.