Previewing Barack Obama's State of the Union on Tuesday, Good Morning America's Jon Karl hyped the President's move to unilaterally act "where he can without Congress." [MP3 audio here.] Eight years ago, however, ABC hit George W. Bush for being unwilling to compromise.
After noting that Congress has failed to raise the minimum wage, Karl touted, "...The President will announce that he is increasing by nearly $3 an hour the minimum wage on all new federal contracts, acting where he can without Congress." According to Karl, this is an example of Obama "promising to work with Congress where he can but showing there are things he can do on his own, as well." In his report, the journalist failed to wonder if it was the President who should move. In contrast, previewing the January 31, 2006 State of the Union, Charles Gibson asked the liberal Ted Kennedy, "Do you get a sense that this White House is truly willing to compromise on anything?"
Pointing out that Bush planned to speak on health saving accounts, Gibson parroted, "And yet you've said that doesn't help the average worker, it just helps the rich who have money to set aside." The then-GMA co-host again hit the Republican president: "So, do you think really you're gonna get something that the two of you can work together in that area?"
On Tuesday, Karl enthused over the standard State of the Union guests, describing Obama's goals: "First, show he can still inspire the nation with a little help from the guests sitting in the First Lady's box." An ABC graphic appeared next to a picture of the President with huge words saying "INSPIRE."
The journalist did label 2013 the "worst year of [Obama's] presidency." But it wasn't until the very end of a follow-up segment with former Bush aide Matthew Dowd that the President's actions were examined. Dowd insisted that raising the minimum wage unilaterally will be a stick in the eye of the Republicans and it's only going to make that partisanship worsen in Washington, D.C."
More typical were examples of Karl uncritically parroting the President's plans to "jump-start his economic agenda, renewing calls to expand educational opportunities, raise the minimum wage and extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed."
Co-host George Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic operative, lamely wondered, "So, what's the single most important thing he can do tonight?"
A transcript of the January 28 Jon Karl segment is below:
ABC GRAPHIC: President Out "on His Own" Set to Change Wages for Millions
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to go to Washington now where President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address tonight and he's got a tough sell job ahead. The economy may be getting stronger but his approval ratings have never been lower before this big speech. ABC's Jon Karl has been digging into the details of the President's turnaround strategy. And Jon, one big component, the President looking to force policy changes on his own without Congress.
JON KARL: That's right, George. And one example the White House is announcing this morning is on the minimum wage. Congress has not acted to raise the national minimum wage, so tonight the President will announce that he is increasing by nearly $3 an hour the minimum wage on all new federal contracts, acting where he can without Congress. Tonight, the President will try to do three big things to get the mojo back. First, show he can still inspire the nation with a little help from the guests sitting in the First Lady's box. Among them Carlos Carlos Arrendondo and Jeff Bauman, who the nation first saw last year and the photo in the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombing. Boston strong personified. And the President hopes to turn the page after the worst year of his presidency.
BARACK OBAMA: That's on me.
KARL: Promising to work with Congress where he can but showing there are things he can do on his own, as well.
JAY CARNEY: Mindful of Congress's reluctance to be cooperative at times, the President is going to exercise his authority.
KARL: And the President hopes to use his speech to jump-start his economic agenda, renewing calls to expand educational opportunities, raise the minimum wage and extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.
CARNEY: Make sure that in America hard work is rewarded, responsibility is rewarded.
KARL: Among the others who will be in the First Lady's box will be Gary Berg, the fire chief from tornado ravaged Moore, Tex – Moore, Oklahoma, also Jason Collins, the NBA player who became the first major pro athlete to come out as gay and Antoinette Tuff, the woman who talked down a would-be school shooter in Georgia. They will all be in the First Lady's box and, of course, their stories highlighted in the President's speech. George?