Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Anderson Cooper Interviews President Barack Obama

Hi all. Is it incredibly dorky that merely typing my title gave me a little thrill? I know it's been a couple of weeks since the inauguration, but I still feel like I'm living in some sort of awesome alterna-world. And tonight in this alterna-world, we get to see a super-special interview Anderson Cooper did with our new prez. How do I know it's super-special? Because they played it on other CNN shows AND made a fancy-pants graphic for it on the website.

If your interview gets its own graphic, that means big-time. The sit-down was not, however, an exclusive. Apparently, it was interview day at the White House, because not only did President Obama talk to our anchor, he also chatted up Charlie Gibson, Katie Couric, Brian Williams, and Chris Wallace.

As TVNewser reports, the newsies rotated in and out with each getting 10 minutes to have a go at the Commander in Chief. Wham, bam, thank you ma'm. I don't know about you, but in my mind, this described scenario results in numerous hypothetical amusements.

Like, while they're waiting on Katie to do her interview, I could see Brian being all, "So...Anderson, what are you going to ask him?" And then Anderson would be like, "Oh, hells no, Williams. I'm not falling for that. You air before I do and you're going to steal my questions." That's exactly how it went down. I'm sure of it.

For an actual window into the behind-the-scenes of the interview, Anderson was kind enough to give us a very cool (and way too rare) blog post. From him, we learn everything from the size and temperature of the Oval Office, to the president's nail hygiene (neatly trimmed, thank you very much).

Slight joking aside, it was a very good and informative post and I wish he'd do that more often. Like, I didn't know he'd requested to interview the former president. I guess that's kind of a given with him being a journalist and all, but it would be cool if we could have more blogs with that kind of information.

Okay, it's time to kick this thing off. The show begins with the BREAKING NEWS that Obama has admitted he "screwed up" regarding the Daschle kurfuffle. Seriously, that's what's on the graphic. I don't even know what to do with that. The country has apparently become so accustomed to lying and finger pointing that when the president admits a mistake, we're all amazed. Man, our standards are low. Anyway, this leads us right into the first clip of the interview.

Today Tom Daschle, Obama's choice for head of Health and Human Services, stepped down amid controversy that he didn't pay a boatload of taxes. Obama tells Anderson that what happened with Daschle was a mistake because he campaigned on change and he doesn't want there to appear to be two different standards. They also go on to talk about the economy, which keeps him up at night. Him and everybody else.

Our inevitable "strategy session" tonight is being rocked by David Gergen, Ed Rollins, and Roland Martin. Right off the bat, Anderson is like, oh my God, can you believe Obama admitted to screwing up? And then The Gerg is all, I knooow! Okay, it was a little less valley girl, but they're pretty surprised. I knew Anderson would be all over that since it's one of his things. Long time viewers know what I'm talking about. He's got certain things he hammers on over and over. Admitting mistakes is one of those things.

Seriously though, how friggin awesome is it to have a president that talks to us like we're adults and doesn't even hesitate before saying he messed up? It's a new day, people. There's a lot more panel talk here, but nothing too interesting. I have a message for Roland though: simma down, dude! This is not a yelly show. Indoor voice!

Back to the interview now, and Anderson tries to ask about executive compensation, but apparently Obama has some speech or something planned tomorrow in which he'll get into all that. Then Anderson starts to ask if he supports Senator Claire McCaskill's (my senator!) plan to cap CEO pay of TARP recipients and before he can get the question out, Obama is like, dude I'll tell you tomorrow. Anderson wants to make the news now, man!

The conversation then moves on to non negotiables for the stimulus package and Anderson does a little feet-to-the-fire holding involving all the pork put into the bill by House Democrats. "If you tally up all the programs that have been criticized on AC 360 or anywhere else, that amounts to less than 1 percent of the total package," says Obama. I like how he knows that all the cool kids abbreviate the show's name. Anderson wonders if maybe the Republicans are beating him when it comes to the message war and Obama is like, that's why I'm talking to you. Touche. I guess we'll see if it works.

Next up, there's more panel and they discuss how Obama has to stand up to House Democrats. Then it's back to the interview and the subject of the War on Terror, a phrase Obama really doesn't care for all that much. He explains that we are in a conflict against terror organizations, but wants to be careful with his language because he believes we can win over moderate Muslims. A far cry from "Bring 'em on!" huh?

That wraps up the big important questions. Lightning round time! No, for reals. First up, the most important question of all: what's going on with the puppy search?! Obama says they'll get it in the spring when the girls will be more inclined to walk it. You know, I'm starting to feel strung along with this puppy thing. C'mon man! A nation waits in anticipation. Next question, coolest thing about his new car? "You know, I thought it was the phones until I realized that I didn't know which button to press. That was a little embarrassing," says Obama. Hm, hopefully this is not the case when it comes to launching the nukes. Get the man a manual!

Anderson next asks if Obama has had a cigarette since he's been in the White House. A couple of things crack me up about this question, the first being Anderson's little eyebrow raise, like he's asking something he's not suppose to. The second thing is that earlier in the show they used this question for a tease and cut it off before Obama answered. An interview cliffhanger! Dun dun dun! Oh 360, you're so unintentionally hilarious sometimes.

Anyway, Obama answers by saying he hasn't had one on those grounds and I completely miss the next question about Lincoln because I'm thinking, "wait a minute, what does that mean?" Me thinks our president has been puffing somewhere. Dude, Obama, take it from someone who's spent some time in the pulmonary ward, you don't want to go there.

After this interview clip we go back live to Anderson who takes a minute to thank the peeps who helped him with the interview questions, particularly producer Eva Nordstrom. That was a very sweet thing to do. I'm big on giving props to the behind-the-sceners, people who usually work just as hard for none of the glory. So yay to Eva and her researchin' skillz! Get on with your bad self.

Panel again. This time they talk about how Obama is unflappable, accessible, and just generally awesome. Okay, that last one might be a bit of my editorializing.

We then move on to a clip of the Obamas talking to a class of second graders and in a subsequent Erica Hill piece we learn that the first couple just kind of popped into the school to show their support for education (and maybe get a good photo-op on a bad press day). What cracks me up though is how Obama is talking to these kids who are all of about seven-years-old. He's explaining his career path, while Michelle is like, "first he had to work real hard." Our last prez talked to everyone like they were five; this one talks to kids like they've already taken high school government.

The "shot" tonight is actor Christian Bale, well, losing his you know what. Apparently, while he was shooting a scene of a movie, the director of photography had the gall to walk in his line of sight, which resulted in a four minute obscenity-laced tirade. Oh, Christian Bale, it's really hard to maintain my crush on you when you keep acting like an insane dick.

At first I thought 360 totally dropped the ball in not playing the dance remix of the tirade (nope, not kidding--it exists and is rather catchy), but then Anderson mentions it and notes that, "We'd have to bleep every word of it, so we actually can't play it for you." So if you click on the link, let that be your warning. Such a talented guy, but with an apparent ego to match. See, this is why I've given up on celebrities and have turned my attention to newsies. You'd never hear one of them having this kind of freak out. Or would you?

"If you think that's bad, you should hear Erica Hill talking to Jack Gray," says Anderson. "Listen, you know what, though, seriously? I am so sick. It's time somebody put that kid in his place. And the way he goes into your office and rifles through your stuff all the time. Yes, you didn't know about that. Did you?" says Erica. That's her prima donna? Aw, I kinda want to pat her on the head. You're going to have to get a lot bitchier than that, hon. As for Jack Gray, you let the kid blog a couple posts and he acts like he owns the place. Sheesh.

The show was pretty good, though I really could have done without so much panel. I mean, besides Erica's piece, we basically had an hour show all about a 10 minute interview. The interview itself was good, given the time limitations Anderson was working with. Obviously there are tons more questions I wish he would have asked, but it's not his fault that he couldn't. He did a pretty good job pressing on a couple of issues, but never became interrupty, which he sometimes has a tendency to do.

Sitting in the actual Oval Office and interviewing the president probably had something to do with that, though really I've never had a problem with the interrupting. Politicians tend to go on too long, you know? I suppose it's possible that he'll get some flack for the "lightening round," but I thought it was a smart move to do the obligatory soft questions like that. All in all a good job. Kudos to Anderson and the researchers behind him.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You'd never hear one of them having this kind of freak out."

You would if count Bill OReilly and his youtube captured early days crazy rant at the production people, but you probably wouldn't if you count REAL newsies. Certainly it boggles the mind to imagine Anderson or Erica going all Bale on someone's ass.

4:25 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

We'll do it live!!!

Yeah, I forgot about that crazy rant. And no, I do not consider him a journalist.

The most we'd ever get out of Anderson is a glare and perhaps some angry snapping.

4:34 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi Eliza,

Great post. It seems you are finally feeling better. You know it's true; after 8 years of Bushisms, it's refreshing to hear a president talk in thoughtful and complete sentences. It amused me thinking of the network anchors waiting in the wings for their time. Were straws drawn for interviewing order? That was indeed a rare blog posted from Anderson. He should do it more often. Eliza, is progress being made on your breathing treatments? Anne D.

5:18 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

@Anne--Ha! Now I'm wondering about the straw thing too. Or maybe they all played rock, paper, scissors.

I still can't get over how great it is to have a president who talks to us like we're adults. I'm not naive. He's a politician, which means I will no doubt inevitably get my little heart broken, but you know what? I'm kinda okay with that.

I don't know why Anderson doesn't blog more. It's really not that hard. Of course, I don't have everything I say dissected by the world, so I guess I understand his hesitation--a little bit anyway.

Thanks for asking about my health. I am officially off oxygen! Yay! (I need a graphic!) But then literally only a week after they took the equipment away I got really sick. What's a girl gotta do to catch a break, you know? I still have the bad cough, which makes me nervous (because of what it could turn into), but I do feel a lot better, so I'm hoping that I'm very close to having my almost-normal life back.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi Eliza,

It's good to hear you were able to get off the machine and that you feel better. I agree with your sentiment about not being naive and it's ok to get the heart broken (hopefully only a little).

Anne D.

4:45 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@Anne--I still have to use a machine at night and will have to continue doing so for probably the rest of my life. It's very similar to a CPAP machine, which is what a lot of people have to use for sleep apnea, so it's actually not all that uncommon. It's hella annoying, but I'm getting used to it.

I'm just very happy to be off the oxygen. I can't even describe how much it sucked to have to wear that everywhere. At one point my doctor had said he thought I'd need it forever, but I worked my butt off and proved him wrong, so yay for me.

Obama will disappoint; it's inevitable. But I'm not expecting any big sucker punches like, say, the whole Edwards thing. That guy is dead to me.

5:01 PM  

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