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CBS's Kroft Explains Why Obama 'Likes 60 Minutes': 'We're Not Going to Play Gotcha With Him'

CBS's Steve Kroft conformed his journalistic benevolence to President Obama and Secretary Clinton when he told CNN's Piers Morgan on Monday that Obama "likes 60 Minutes" because they won't "play gotcha with him."

Morgan asked Kroft why Obama "keeps coming to you?" Kroft answered, "I think it's a question of fairness. I, we have not, I think he knows that we're not going to play gotcha with him, that we're not going to go out of our way to make him look bad or stupid, and we'll let him answer the questions."

NewsBusters' Tim Graham excoriated 60 Minutes for ignoring any tough questions of the President and his outgoing Secretary of State in the Sunday interview. "Look, this is Steve Kroft's history. This is the reason why we wrote a report called 'Syrupy Minutes.' With the Democrats, this is what they do." He added that CBS is trying to be a "palette cleanser for Hillary Clinton's career."
 
"They were very obvious right from the beginning that Kroft started, 'Mr. President, this was your idea,'" Graham said of the interview. And Kroft admitted to Piers Morgan that "I think he [Obama] likes 60 Minutes."

And the liberal Morgan complimented Kroft for going easy on the 2008 presidential contenders:

"It was the body language of these two people who, you know, four years ago were ripping each other's throats out. I thought it was very gentlemanly of you not to remind them of what they said about each other on video because that could have been really uncomfortable."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on Piers Morgan Tonight on January 28 at 9:02 p.m. EST, is as follows:

PIERS MORGAN: Let me ask you at the top, why do you think he keeps coming to you, because there's two schools of thought. One is that you're the most brilliant, penetrating interviewer on American television, and the other one is that you give them a soft time. Neither of which I suspect is entirely the true picture.

KROFT: No, I think that -- first of all, I think he likes 60 Minutes. It's – you know, we have a huge audience. We have a format that suits him. It's long. We can do 12 minutes or 24 minutes. We do a – you know, we do a good job of editing. And I've been doing these interviews with him since a few weeks before he declared his candidacy.

So I covered him during the campaign and have kept doing it in the White House. But I think it's a question of fairness. I – we have not -- I think he knows that we're not going to play gotcha with him. That we're not going to go out of our way to make him look bad or stupid, and we'll let him answer the questions.

(...)

MORGAN: It wasn't what either of them really said. It was the body language of these two people who, you know, four years ago were ripping each other's throats out. I thought it was very gentlemanly of you not to remind them of what they said about each other on video because that could have been really uncomfortable. So you had these two gladiators who had been at complete war, suddenly expressing this kind of remarkable bonhomie and long lasting friendship as if they were the best buddies in the world. You seemed as shocked as the rest of us when they put on this performance for you.

KROFT: Yeah, when I first found out about it, when I first found out that they wanted to do it, I was flabbergasted. I was in London at the time interviewing Maggie Smith. And I thought, you know, what are we going to ask them? How are we going to do this in 30 minutes? And I think we all realized that the value of this, and it's one of the things that the television can do and the New York Times can't, is to capture the chemistry between the two of them.

Everybody knows the story, everybody knows how bitter it was. Everybody knows how they really did not seem to like each other very much. And so it was just fascinating sitting there and watching them interact on the two shot, especially, where you could see the reaction to what was being said. And I thought it was the most revealing part because I had never really been quite sure about the nature of their relationship.

I thought it was strictly professional. And that there were so many articles written about their staffs, how they didn't get along. And I thought that they were -- they were absolutely on the same page. And I thought very affectionate with each other.

MORGAN: I agree. I mean, either they're the best actors in the world. Or they were very sincere, I felt. And I genuinely felt that.

-- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center