There's a certain level of contempt on the part of CBS. It could and should focus its attention on the plight of every family struggling with unemployment or a house that's underwater financially or facing its loss of religious liberties with a federal government drunk with power. CBS chose instead to waste most of the interview asking the Obamas about summer vacations, where they'd like to travel in the world and whether there's still mystery in their marriage.
This was not what they call in the business a "newsmaker interview," even though there is no greater newsmaker in this country than the president. This must have reminded Obama of his teenage years at Baskin-Robbins, because Rose seemed to be making him a triple-scoop sundae, with chocolate and sprinkles on top.
Anyone who tuned in to "Sunday Morning" for the hard news would have "questions" like these:
-- "It's not a bad place to live." (the White House) "Well, you got a basketball court; you got a tennis court. You have a fountain. You can see the Washington Monument."
-- "How are you going to spend your summer? ... What is summer vacation?"
-- "You didn't have all of these important things to do, and you could travel to anyplace in the world, where would you want to go? What would you want to see and experience?"
-- "Does this place change you?"
It seemed obvious to the audience that Charlie Rose was channeling his inner Barbara Walters. The "what kind of tree would you like to be?" question was on the tip of his tongue.
Then there was the marriage question to the president. "I read you though, this, that I found fascinating. You said, 'I trust her (Michelle) completely, but at the same time, she's also a complete mystery to me in some ways. It is that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong.' Is that even more so now, and in this place?"
Rose said the original quote came from 1996, but its American debut was a New Yorker magazine puff piece that coincided with the Obama inauguration in 2009. CBS is sitting down with the Obamas in 2012 and asking a repeat of a stale question used to promote the first family at their highest political summit. You can tell where CBS is happiest and where it wants to keep the Obamas. It is forever January 2009.
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