On The Situation Room, Tony Blankley and Wolf Blitzer mischaracterized President Obama's call back to The New York Times following an interview during which Obama was asked if he was a "socialist." Blankley asserted that Obama originally "answered and didn't like his answer and called back," to which Blitzer replied, "To clarify, to clarify." In fact, Obama explicitly made the point during the initial interview that he was not a "socialist"; rather, in his follow-up call, Obama criticized the Times' question.
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On the March 10 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, syndicated columnist Tony Blankley and host Wolf Blitzer mischaracterized President Obama's call back to The New York Times following his March 7 interview. After Blankley stated that "the fact The New York Times asked President Obama a few days ago, 'Are you a socialist,' suggests that the idea that he's for big government is obvious," Blitzer responded, "He later called them back and said he's not a socialist." Blankley then asserted that Obama originally "answered and didn't like his answer and called back," to which Blitzer replied, "To clarify, to clarify."
In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, according to the audio posted on the Times' website, in his post-interview follow-up phone call with the Times, Obama did not call back "to clarify" that he is "not a socialist" -- he had explicitly made that point during the initial 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." 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 10 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
BLITZER: Well, let's take a look at that. Is he in favor of big government? Because as all of us remember, former President Clinton said the era of big government is over.
DONNA BRAZILE (Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor): But we can't compare one era to another era when we -- when the president has inherited a recession and massive job losses and a huge national deficit. And so what he's doing right now is he's investing in the economy to help get people back to work. So I don't think there's a comparison.
What he has said is that he wants smart government, he wants efficient government, he wants accountability, he wants responsibility. And you know, what you consider a lie and what you should have considered a lie, Tony, was the fact for the last eight years, we did not put the cost of fighting in Iraq in our budget. We did --
BLANKLEY: That was a budget procedure.
BRAZILE: Yeah, but it was a --
BLANKLEY: It was a supplemental appropriation instead of a regular appropriation.
BRAZILE: It was -- it was -- it was a gimmick that should not have been part --
BLANKLEY: Well, there's lots of gimmicks in budgeting.
BRAZILE: It should not have been part of the budgeting because we never saw the real picture of the debt. So what the president has done in this budget is he's laid it out --
BLITZER: Very quickly, Tony.
BLANKLEY: I think the fact The New York Times asked President Obama a few days ago, "Are you a socialist," suggests that the idea that he's for big government is obvious. The question is, "How big is it?"
BLITZER: And he later called them back --
BLANKLEY: He had to call back --
BLITZER: -- and said he's not a socialist.
BLANKLEY: He answered and didn't like his answer and called back, he was so sensitive.
BLITZER: To clarify, to clarify.
BRAZILE: Well, I think at the end of the day, the American people want to know is he effective and will he lead us out of this -- hard times.
BLITZER: And remember, it's only 50 days. So, you know, it's very limited amount of time. He's done a lot in 50 days, and he's got certainly a huge agenda ahead of him. Guys, thanks very much.
BRAZILE: Thank you.