Obama on 60 Minutes: cheerleading interview a journalistic low

By Craig McKee

It might be the worst television news interview ever conducted. And that includes anything on Fox News.
After the alleged raid that supposedly resulted in the execution of Osama bin Laden, U.S. President Barack Obama agreed to an interview with Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes. He couldn’t have made a better choice. No tough questions, no demand for proof of anything the president was saying. Just pure PR. A state-controlled TV station in a fascist dictatorship couldn’t have conducted a more gushing and supportive interview.
These examples were typical of Kroft’s lobs:

  • Mr. President, was this the most satisfying week of your Presidency?
  • Was the decision to launch this attack the most difficult decision that you’ve made as Commander-In-Chief?
  • What was your reaction? Was there a sense of excitement? Did this look promising from the very beginning?
  • Were you surprised when they came to you with this compound right in the middle of sort of the military center of Pakistan?
  • What was the most difficult part? I mean you had to decide. This was your decision — whether to proceed or not and how to proceed. What was the most difficult part of that decision?
  • I mean it’s been reported that there was some resistance from advisors and planners who disagreed with the commando raid approach. Was it difficult for you to overcome that? And what level of confidence did you have?
  • How much did some of the past failures, like the Iran hostage rescue attempt, how did that weigh on you? I mean . . .
  • It sounds like you made a decision that you could accept failure. You didn’t want failure but after looking at . . .
  • How much of it was gut instinct? Did you have personal feelings about whether he was there?
  • After you made the decision to go ahead, you had like this incredible weekend where you were you surveyed the tornado damage in Alabama.
  • You attended the White House Association dinner. There was a commencement address. And this was all going on. I mean you knew what was gonna happen.
  • Was it hard keeping your focus?
  • Did you have to suppress the urge to tell someone? Did you wanna tell somebody? Did you wanna tell Michelle? Did you tell Michelle?
  • I want to go to the Situation Room. What was the mood?
  • Were you nervous?
  • What could you see?
  • Right. And that went on for a long time? Could you hear gunfire? Flashes?
  • You had to blow up some walls?
  • What was your reaction when you heard those words?
  • When did you start to feel comfortable that bin Laden had been killed?
  • Did you see the pictures?
  • What was your reaction when you saw them?
  • Was it your decision to bury him at sea?
  • When the mission was over and you walked out of the situation room, what did you do? What was the first thing you did?
  • Is this the first time that you’ve ever ordered someone killed?

Honestly, who gives a crap how the president felt? Was he nervous, was he satisfied, was he surprised? Who cares!!?? In not one case did Kroft come back at Obama with a tough follow-up. He just served up the easy ones, and Obama smashed them back.
Kroft did hint at some reasonable questions, like what Pakistan knew and why he isn’t releasing photos, but he took them nowhere. For example, he asked the president about the burial at sea, but only to find out whether it was Obama’s decision.
The problem is that most people get their world view (to the extent that they have one) from the mainstream media – and especially TV. But the major media don’t push for the truth, and they don’t tell the truth. Sometimes the information they disseminate if flat out false information, sometimes the essential questions are just not asked.
Unfortunately, the majority of viewers don’t seem to notice. They swallow the official line in part because the president sounds so convincing in this “interview” situation.
Here are some questions that would never have been asked on 60 Minutes:

  • Did you ever have proof that bin Laden was behind 9/11? If so, why wasn’t he wanted for the crime?
  • How can you justify an excursion into a sovereign country (particularly an ally) to assassinate a person residing in that country? Isn’t that a violation of international law?
  • What proof, other than your word, can you offer the public that bin Laden is actually dead?
  • What proof can you offer the public that he was currently planning large-scale attacks on Americans? Why didn’t you learn any details about these possible attacks?
  • Why wasn’t bin Laden captured instead of being executed so that the authorities could interrogate him? Was there an order given to kill him?

No, those questions would have been unpatriotic. They would have been an insult to the brave Navy SEALs who risked their lives, blah, blah, blah.
The recent events in Pakistan don’t prove that bin Laden was killed in a raid by American forces, but they do confirm that the journalistic pursuit of truth is on life support.


  1. Good write-up, Craig. I couldn’t have said it better. It is exactly like the state controlled TV in a dictatorship.
    You should publish Adam Ruff’s “To Debate or Not to Debate” here at your site.

  2. It is a clever trick they have managed to achieve, state propaganda with almost world-wide penetration while most people still think they have a fiercely independent media.

    1. It makes me wonder what has happened to critical thinking. Even those who buy the OGCT should still see the catastrophic failure of the media to ask the key questions.

  3. I know this is an old post, I just wanted to comment that I find it very odd that most of the Navy Seals that were supposedly on this mission are now dead…

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