Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Soledad O'Brien's Amazing John Sununu Interview Should Be Taught in Journalism School

CNN's Soledad O'Brien did something which is extremely rare in television news these days: she actually did her job. And it was the best example of truly awesome journalism I've seen since Katie Couric so deftly gave Sarah Palin the opportunity in 2008 to destroy herself. Perhaps, given the unprecedented polarization and partisan vitriol in politics today, coupled with the right-wing's propaganda campaign of lies and distortion, we just might see a return of the mainstream media as a potent force in this heated election.

The action took place Tuesday afternoon, as O'Brien was interviewing former New Hampshire governor and George W. Bush Chief of Staff John Sununu. With the actual documents in hand, O'Brien pointed out the striking similarities between the Medicare plans of Mitt Romney and his controversial vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan, who seeks to change the government guaranteed health care program into a voucher system.

“But it’s very different,” Sununu insisted. “For example, when Obama gutted Medicare by taking $717 billion out of it, the Romney plan does not do that. The Ryan plan mimicked part of the Obama package there, the Romney plan does not. That’s a big difference.”

O’Brien essentially accused him of lying:

“I understand that this is a Republican talking point because I’ve heard it repeated over and over again. These numbers have been debunked, as you know, by the Congressional Budget Office. … I can tell you what it says. It (Obama's Medicare plan) cuts a reduction in the expected rate of growth, which you know, not cutting budgets to the elderly. Benefits will be improved.”

At this point Sununu, clearly agitated, became nasty and indignant, angered by O'Brien's insistence on fact over fiction:

“Soledad, stop this!” Sununu replied, raising his voice. “All you’re doing is mimicking the stuff that comes out of the White House and gets repeated on the Democratic blog boards out there.”

O'Brien continued reading from the Romney and Obama plans verbatim, and cited, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and CNN's own independent analysis in refuting Sununu's deceptive rhetoric.

“Put an Obama bumper sticker on your forehead when you do this!” Sununu barked.

And here's where O'Brien, following a heated exchange where she demanded "Let me finish...let me finish!," demonstrated that she has more balls than anyone in television news right now:

“You know, let me tell you something. There is independent analysis that details what this is about. … And name calling to me and somehow acting as if by you repeating a number of $716 billion, that you can make that stick with that figure as being ‘stolen’ from Medicare, that’s not true. You can’t just repeat it and make it true, sir.”

In punctuating this incredible interview, O'Brien closed by reminding Sununu of how Romney has called Ryan's plan "brilliant."

Imagine an America where the political discourse is not shaped solely by lying, duplicitous surrogates like Sununu but by honorable journalists who serve as a beacon of truth in holding politicians to a higher standard.


Dan S said...

More of this and there maybe hope for America. By the way there is hope for America the question is how low is the bottom, if this is it OK but if it goes much lower the rebuilding would take generations instead of maybe one generation. I remember a time when the press would challenge, investigate and uncover this kind of nastiness and shine a light on it as a disinfectant. The internet will I believe force journalists to do their due diligence once again. Ms. O'Brien could you please show the rest of your colleagues how to use a spine. Refreshing and well done!

Anonymous said...

It's good to see someone standing up to these mouth bullies and craven liars. If only other "Journalists" would call BS on this mendacity, our society would be much different from today's.

Anonymous said...

Doing her job as a journalist is to be or at least try to be objective ... Which she is not. She has been caught on air reading directly from left leaning blogs. Factcheck is not non-partisan. And even most semi intelligent people would agree that Obamacare will cut 700 billion. I work for a very large healthcare organization ... We are preparing of large uptick in utilization. And huge decrease in revenue. We have outsourced jobs overseas, layed off workers, etc etc.
My benefits have been cut over the last few years. And that trend will continue. Our organization is very friendly not only to the Obama camp but also to the Democratic leadership ...
Listen I like Soledad obrien. I have heard her speak ... She is not an unbiased journalist ... I respect your opinion of her .. I just thought I would put my two cents in .. One more thing ... Every one has there biases ..everyone right or left ... Just don't claim that you don't when you really do ....

Charlie said...

Huzzah! Good for O'Brien. Looks and brains to match. You, too, Andy! Ha! Thanks!