Barack Obama delivered one gaffe after another in his August 6 interview with Jay Leno, but the networks that usually mock every mistake or slip of the tongue made by Republicans ignored the President's verbal mishaps.
ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’s This Morning and NBC’s Today show, on Wednesday morning, all bypassed the chance to criticize Obama for: downplaying the threat of terrorism; falsely claiming Vladimir Putin once ran the KGB; placing the Atlantic coast cities of Savannah, Charleston, and Jacksonville on the Gulf of Mexico; confusing the Winter Olympics with the Summer Olympics.
First up, on the August 6 edition of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Obama responded to the talk show host’s question about the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, this way: "The odds of people dying in a terrorist attack obviously are still a lot lower than in a car accident, unfortunately." (It should be noted that Good Morning America did run this soundbite, but they let it go by without comment.)
JAY LENO: What do you say to those cynics who go, oh, this is an overreaction to Benghazi — how do you respond to that?
BARACK OBAMA: One thing I’ve tried to do as President is not over react, but make sure that as much as possible the American people understand that there are genuine risks out there. What’s great about what we’ve seen with America over the last several years is how resilient we are. So after the Boston bombing, for example, the next day folks were out there, they’re going to ball games. They are making sure that we’re not reacting in a way that somehow shuts us down.
And that’s the right reaction. Terrorists depend on the idea that we’re going to be terrorized. And we’re going to live our lives. And the odds of people dying in a terrorist attack obviously are still a lot lower than in a car accident, unfortunately. But there are things that we can do to make sure that we’re keeping the pressure on these networks that would try to injure Americans. And the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about when I go to bed is making sure that I’m doing everything I can to keep Americans safe.
Later on the leader of the free world mistakenly claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin once “headed up the KGB.” According to this January 30, 2000 Washington Post article Putin “spent 17 years as a mid-level agent in the Soviet KGB's foreign intelligence wing, rising only to the rank of lieutenant colonel.”
LENO: And Putin seems to me like one of those old-school KGB guys.
OBAMA: Well, he headed up the KGB.
During the Russia portion of the interview, the President also mixed up the Winter Olympics with the Summer Olympics.
OBAMA: I think Putin and Russia have a big stake in making sure the Olympics work, and I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn't tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently. They're athletes, they're there to compete. And if Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit, then every judgment should be made on the track, or in the swimming pool, or on the balance beam, and people's sexual orientation shouldn't have anything to do with it.
The track and field events, swimming competitions and gymnastics all take place during the summer games. Sochi, Russia is the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Finally, during a discussion on the need to improve the nation’s infrastructure, Obama made a big geographical goof, as seen in the following exchange:
LENO: You mentioned infrastructure. Why is that a partisan issue? I live in a town, the bridge is falling apart, it’s not safe. How does that become Republican or Democrat? How do you not just fix the bridge?
OBAMA: I don’t know. As you know, for the last three years, I’ve said, let’s work together. Let’s find a financing mechanism and let’s go ahead and fix our bridges, fix our roads, sewer systems, our ports. You know the Panama Canal is being widened so that these big supertankers can come in. Now, that will be finished in 2015. If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf — places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida — if we don’t do that, those ships are going to go someplace else. And we’ll lose jobs. Businesses won’t locate here.
-- Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.