Steve Kroft: Obama’s Larry King

There was a time when a public figure who wanted to get a “fair hearing” — i.e., get his message out without too much pushback or skepticism — sought out Larry King. I’ve never faulted Larry King for that. He was on the infotainment side of journalism, and that’s a fine place to be if you don’t pretend to be doing something different. He’d ask good, sometimes interesting, but usually easy questions, and then let his guests answer them pretty much as they wanted. This format lent itself in particular to movie stars and politicians who wanted to stay on message. You knew King would let you do that. As a result, King got a lot of good guests. Everyone won.

There was also a time when 60 Minutes was the toughest news show on TV. Indeed, there was a time when it was beyond tough, it was grotesquely unfair. It made its name playing “gotcha.” The hidden-camera stuff that allegedly makes James O’Keefe the worst villain in the history of journalism, earned 60 Minutes awards and acclaim. Now Kroft is basically admitting that, at least as far as President Obama is concerned, he is the White House’s Larry King. Indeed, in the umpteen interviews Obama has given to Kroft, I can’t remember a time when Kroft even seemed to be seriously holding Obama’s feet to the fire. The fact that Obama thinks Steve Kroft is his Larry King should be mortifying to Kroft — particularly after the way he shamelessly carried water for Obama the last time he interviewed him, during the election.  

It would be interesting to know — though I’d hardly expect Piers Morgan to ask this sort of question — whether Kroft thinks there’s any contradiction inherent to the fact that there has never been a Republican president that sought out 60 Minutes on the assumption that 60 Minutes would be fair and wouldn’t play “gotcha.”

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