At 10:15AM ET during America's Newsroom on Fox News Channel, co-host Martha MacCallum reported that in a gaggle with reporters Wednesday morning White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs claimed that President Obama did not watch election results Tuesday night but rather watched an HBO special about his 2008 campaign.
A tipster contacted NewsBusters questioning that report and after having acquired a transcript of the press gaggle, we have confirmed that the Fox News report was incorrect and Gibbs did not make any such statement.
Fox News White House correspondent Major Garrett corrected the record during Studio B in the 3PM ET hour on Wenesday(see video above).
Gibbs made this statement at the beginning of the untaped discussion with White House reporters:
One thing I should contextualize - the President obviously got updates about the election last night. He did not watch - as I told some of you - did not watch election returns. I wouldn't read a ton into that since he didn't actually watch election returns when he was running. If you did watch the movie on HBO - we called him and told him he won Iowa. He did not watch election returns.
Clearly Gibbs was simply referencing the HBO documentary as evidence that the President does not routinely watch election returns.
Later in the gaggle, Gibbs was again asked if the President watched the election results. Gibbs reiterated: "He was not sitting in front of the TV watching them. Again, I sent him some e-mail updates and I talked to him....He just doesn't - I mean, again, and I don't mean to sort of oversimplify this, but he never watched them when he was running. He just doesn't."
During the 10AM ET hour of America's Newsroom on Fox News Channel, fill-in co-host Martha Maccallum told viewers what President Obama watched on election night while Democrats suffered big losses in New Jersey and Virginia: "Robert Gibbs said, well, he was actually watching, you know, the HBO special about his year-long campaign and how it all went."
On Tuesday night the White House had worked to downplay the Democratic gubernatorial defeats by claiming the President did not watch the election returns. Apparently Gibbs thought it would look better if the commander in chief was watching a self-indulgent fawning documentary about himself. Interestingly, Obama apparently previewed the HBO special a few days earlier, as Gibbs himself explained to the blog Talking Points Memo : "White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says Obama has already seen 'By the People'...Gibbs told TPMDC Obama's review: 'Thumbs up!'"
On FNC, Maccallum noted: "...we know that Michelle and the girls went to the Miley Cyrus concert last night... So he's all alone in that big house, right? Nothing to do but sit back and watch - reminisce about the long campaign and watch HBO and the special." The HBO documentary, 'By the People,' debuted on Tuesday, in commemoration of the one year anniversary of Obama's election.
-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.