The broadcast evening networks all led Friday night not with the
jump in the unemployment rate to 9.8%, but with the International
Olympic Committee's (IOC) rejection of Chicago's bid, stories which reflected the premise Chicago lost "despite" or "in spite" of the "star-studded U.S. appeal from Oprah to the Obamas," while ABC's Charles Gibson absolved President Barack Obama by pressing for confirmation of "some anti-American sentiment here?"
and whether "this is seen as a poke in the eye to the President himself
or...to the U.S.?" George Stephanopoulos assured viewers:
If the President gets a health care bill this fall, if the economy starts to turn around, if he can build an international coalition to take on Iran's nuclear program, none of this will matter.
A lot of ifs.
On Wednesday night, CBS anchor Katie Couric had declared "the 'Dream Team' pushing Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympic summer games is nearly complete" and was just awaiting "team captain" President Barack Obama who "arrives Friday ahead of the final vote." After the vote, Couric remained impressed by the effort, teasing Friday's CBS Evening News: "Tonight, Chicago hope dashed. Despite a high-powered, star-studded U.S. appeal from Oprah to the Obamas, the Olympics are awarded to Rio."
On ABC, Chris Bury echoed that Chicago's elimination came "in spite of those personal closing arguments from its premiere power couple."
From the Friday, October 2 World News on ABC:
CHARLES GIBSON: They may have wanted to go to Rio in the first place, but that Chicago finished last, did they gang up on Chicago? Is there some anti-American sentiment here?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, USA TODY: You could certainly say that, Charlie. In the last few months, the IOC has gotten rid of baseball and softball from the Olympics, both U.S. sports that Americans love and that we're dominant in. And now of course Chicago finishing last. Four years ago, New York was second to last. This is a really bad time for Olympic efforts, USOC, the Olympic Committee and the IOC are at odds on many different issues. And I think this is a humbling time for the U.S. Olympic effort and for the President himself to come over there and then to have them be last, it should be a great wake-up call for U.S. efforts in the future because on the horizon it is not looking good for the USOC, even though the U.S. provides so much money to the International Olympic Committee.
GIBSON: Alright, Christine Brennan, our thanks to you. Also joining us is our chief Washington correspondent and the host of This Week, George Stephanopoulos. George, let's get to the President. He put a lot into this.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: He certainly did, Charlie. What he was told is there is no chance that Chicago could win if he didn't go. And White House officials point to history and say it's now become something of a tradition for heads of state to go, especially after Tony Blair went and secured the Olympics, a come from behind victory for London a couple of years ago. But I think Christine hit on some important points. What you can fault the White House for perhaps is failure to understand that International Olympic Committee politics and putting the prestige of the presidency on the line for something that wouldn't have been that great a payoff.
GIBSON: Well, he might have been darned if he did and darned if he didn't. If he hadn't gone and we lost, they'd have said, "why didn't you go?" If he does go, he gets criticism for that. But in the long run, do you think this is seen as a poke in the eye to the President himself? Or, as we were talking about with Christine, to the U.S.?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that Christine's points are important. As for the President himself, a lot will depend on what happens going forward. Listen Charlie, if the President gets a health care bill this fall, if the economy starts to turn around, if he can build an international coalition to take on Iran's nuclear program, none of this will matter, nothing that happened today will matter. If things go badly in the next several weeks and months for the President, then this could become short hand, almost a metaphor for the problems the White House faces. Are they trying to do too much too quickly? Do they have too much faith for the President's power of persuasion against intractable problems?
Earlier: "ABC's Charlie Gibson in Chicago for 'Crushing' Olympic Defeat; 'Kick in the Pants' for Obama"
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center