Memo to Roberts: Obama was criticizing NY Times with call back

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

On ABC's This Week, NPR's Cokie Roberts falsely claimed that following his interview with The New York Times, President Obama "call[ed] the reporter back to say, you know, I -- basically, I am not a socialist." In fact, in the follow-up call, Obama criticized the Times' question, stating, "It was hard for me to believe you were entirely serious about that socialist question." Obama later said: "I think that it's important just to note when you start hearing folks throw these words around that we've actually been operating in a way that is entirely consistent with free-market principles and that some of the same folks who are throwing the word socialist around can't say the same."

On the March 8 edition of ABC's This Week, NPR senior news analyst Cokie Roberts stated that President Obama "must be concerned about ... socialism as a term -- because his interview with The New York Times yesterday, and then calling the reporter back to say, you know, I -- basically, I am not a socialist." In fact, according to the audio posted on the Times' website, in his post-interview follow-up phone call with the Times, Obama did not say, "I am not a socialist" -- he had explicitly made that point during the interview. Rather, in his follow-up call, Obama criticized the Times' question, stating, "It was hard for me to believe you were entirely serious about that socialist question." And as host George Stephanopoulos noted, Obama later said during his phone call, "I think that it's important just to note when you start hearing folks throw these words around that we've actually been operating in a way that is entirely consistent with free-market principles and that some of the same folks who are throwing the word socialist around can't say the same."

From the March 8 edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

E.J. DIONNE JR. (Washington Post columnist): You know, it's fascinating because there is -- socialism has never been closer to reality in our lifetimes if you listen to some of our conservative friends. And the notion that Barack Obama, over the long run, is going to increase the size of government by about 2 percent, maybe less, as a share, of gross domestic product -- mostly that's because of health care -- that's going to happen anyway 'cause as we get older, more and more of us are going to collect Medicare. So, that's going to happen anyway.

And suddenly, this is a form of state socialism.

ROBERTS: But he --

DIONNE: It's exactly the same kind of argument that was made against FDR when he instituted Social Security, raised the minimum wage, instituted some public power through the TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority] -- and that didn't seem to cause capitalism any problems.

ROBERTS: But Obama must be concerned about it, because he -- about socialism as a term -- because his interview with The New York Times yesterday, and then calling the reporter back to say, you know, I -- basically, I am not a socialist. There is --

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm not a socialist. What he --

ROBERTS: -- something going on there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What he -- I think you're right, but what he also pointed out, [Washington Post columnist] George Will, is that it wasn't him -- he, who took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It wasn't he took over AIG, a big insurance company.

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Cokie Roberts
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This Week
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