On ’60 Minutes,’ Steve Kroft’s interview of Obama turned into a debate

President Obama gave a long interview to Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” that took me by surprise. Obama pushed back strongly against the perception that his years in office have been characterized by failure and retreat in the Middle East and specifically against the idea that the recent actions by Russia to get involved militarily in Syria were signs of Russian strength in the face of American weakness. Obama, in a complicated way, said it was the other way around.

(This link will enable you to read the full transcript.)

I thought the exchange, broadcast Sunday, was quite unusual. Kroft had trouble maintaining the pose of a reporter asking questions. At one, point when Kroft apparently felt like Obama’s answering was too long, he interrupted with: “I feel like I’m being filibustered, Mr. President.”

At another point, as Kroft was essentially voicing the arguments of the president’s neoconservative critics that the Mideast is falling apart because Obama is too reluctant to get tough, Obama actually interjected: “There’s a question in here somewhere.” Kroft said yes, he had a question, and then resumed making an argument. He never quite reached a question on that round before Obama interrupted to rebut him.

If you watch the video, catch the priceless look on Obama’s face when Kroft asserted that “Mr. Putin seems to be challenging [U.S.]  leadership. To which Obama replied (playing the role of the questioner rather than the answerer): “In what way?”

Of course the “way” turned out to be recent Russian military involvement in Syria.

Eventually, Obama started pushing back hard and treating Kroft something more like an opposing debater. In a tough defense of his conduct, Obama said he has made America safer, in part by avoiding getting drawn into ground combat in no-win situations.

Here’s a chunk of it:

Obama: Let’s take the example of Afghanistan. We’ve been there 13 years now, close to 13 years. And it’s still hard in Afghanistan. Today, after all the investments we have there, and we still have thousands of troops there. So the notion that after a year in Syria, a country where the existing government hasn’t invited us in, but is actively keeping us out, that somehow we would be able to solve this quickly — is —

Kroft: We didn’t say quickly. [Me: To whom is Kroft referring when he says “we?”]

Obama: — is an illusion.

Kroft: A year ago when we did this interview, there was some saber-rattling between the United States and Russia on the Ukrainian border. Now it’s also going on in Syria. You said a year ago that the United States — America leads. We’re the indispensable nation. Mr. Putin seems to be challenging that leadership.

[Obama challenged Kroft to specify what Putin was doing that constituted “leadership.” Kroft replied that he had troops and warplane in Syria “bombing the people that we are supporting.”]

Obama: So that’s leading, Steve? Let me ask you this question. When I came into office, Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin. Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally…

Kroft: He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He’s challenging your leadership —

Obama: Well Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership. My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris. My definition of leadership is mobilizing the entire world community to make sure that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon. And with respect to the Middle East, we’ve got a 60-country coalition that isn’t suddenly lining up around Russia’s strategy. To the contrary, they are arguing that, in fact, that strategy will not work… And the fact that they had to do this is not an indication of strength, it’s an indication that their strategy did not work.

Kroft: You don’t think —

Obama: You don’t think that Mr. Putin would’ve preferred having Mr. Assad be able to solve this problem without him having to send a bunch of pilots and money that they don’t have?

[Kroft posed his questions as if he was merely conveying what Obama’s “critics” were saying. Obama challenged him to say whom he was quoting.]

Kroft: I’d say the Saudis. I’d say the Israelis. I’d say a lot of our friends in the Middle East. I’d say everybody in the Republican Party. Well, you want me to keep going?

Obama: Yeah. If you’re citing the Republican Party, I think it’s fair to say that there is nothing I’ve done right over the last seven and a half years. And I think that’s right. It — and — I also think what is true is that these are the same folks who were making an argument for us to go into Iraq and who, in some cases, still have difficulty acknowledging that it was a mistake.

And Steve, I guarantee you that there are factions inside of the Middle East, and I guess factions inside the Republican Party, who think that we should send endless numbers of troops into the Middle East, that the only measure of strength is us sending back several hundred thousand troops, that we are going to impose a peace, police the region, and — that the fact that we might have more deaths of U.S. troops, thousands of troops killed, thousands of troops injured, spend another trillion dollars, they would have no problem with that. There are people who would like to see us do that. And unless we do that, they’ll suggest we’re in retreat.

Kroft: They’ll say you’re throwing in the towel —

Obama: No. Steve, we have an enormous presence in the Middle East. We have bases and we have aircraft carriers. And our pilots are flying through those skies. And we are currently supporting Iraq as it tries to continue to build up its forces. But the problem that I think a lot of these critics never answered is what’s in the interest of the United States of America and at what point do we say that, “Here are the things we can do well to protect America. But here are the things that we also have to do in order to make sure that America leads and America is strong and stays number one.” And if in fact the only measure is for us to send another 100,000 or 200,000 troops into Syria or back into Iraq, or perhaps into Libya, or perhaps into Yemen, and our goal somehow is that we are now going to be, not just the police, but the governors of this region. That would be a bad strategy, Steve. And I think that if we make that mistake again, then shame on us.

Kroft: Do you think the world’s a safer place?

Obama: America is a safer place. I think that there are places, obviously, like Syria that are not safer than when I came into office. But, in terms of us protecting ourselves against terrorism, in terms of us making sure that we are strengthening our alliances, in terms of our reputation around the world, absolutely we’re stronger.

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Comments (70)

  1. Submitted by Tim Walker on 10/12/2015 - 08:41 am.

    OMG.Steve Kroft is nothing


    Steve Kroft is nothing more than a parrot, repeating GOP talking points without a clue about what he is saying.

  2. Submitted by richard owens on 10/12/2015 - 10:00 am.

    Disrespect has gone mainstream.

    Croft is not a very polished reporter, and it is clear from his aggression he is carrying water for those who have attacked this President without either national solidarity or even mercy, since the day he was elected.

    It is embarrassing to be an American witness when all the loudest mouths can’t get much beyond discredit, blame, and a sneering patronizing of a President arguably facing the biggest, most rapid changes the world has ever seen.

    The kids have been watching. This disrespect might be a permanent, long-term national affliction. Maybe we will kill of all respect for every leader and find our place in those dead civilizations where civility and governance itself are crushed with glee by troglodytes.

    I hope reason can be rescued and revived.

  3. Submitted by Peggy Reinhardt on 10/12/2015 - 09:51 am.

    I agree

    I watched 60 Minutes and glad to read this commentary. What does it take to show respect for the President of the USA? From my point of view, Kroft was totally unaware of his assumption of privilege as he interrogated our president. It’s one thing to conduct an interview, and another to badger him.

  4. Submitted by Arthur Himmelman on 10/12/2015 - 10:07 am.

    Steve Croft’s so-called interview

    Could there be a more transparent major network surrogate than Croft for Republican views and right-wing Israeli politics on these issues? Croft could not even understand the implications of his own arguments and their consequences if they were carried out. Fortunately, President Obama made these consequences very with the proper balance of educating and disdain in responding to Croft’s imbecilic “questions.” Croft needs to explore some options at Fox News if he has not already been in discussions with “conservative” lobbying firms or think tanks.

  5. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 10/12/2015 - 10:08 am.

    Who’s on first..not Kroft, no way…

    Kroft exposed himself and his exhibitionism… only as a media grunt for the ultra conservative crowd.

    It was a pleasure to watch/listen to Obama not blow his cool but respond definitively and question Kroft …turning the tables on this sad CBS sham of a reporter… and it was Obama ‘hosting the host…answering well to the most sloppy bit of media mongrel-ism I’ve seen lately. Kroft went way beyond credibility with his questions.Thank you Obama.

  6. Submitted by joe smith on 10/12/2015 - 10:34 am.

    Kraft did an interview with Obama where he challenged his answers, it is called doing his job. It has been a free pass for Obama with the liberal media and when a guy finally does his job, he gets vilified. Hillary Clinton and most Democrats who would like to keep a shred of credibility have echoed those “GOP talking points” and called his policy on the Mid East a failure.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/12/2015 - 12:26 pm.

      Doing His Job

      Imagine the squawking if a Republican President had been questioned like that by, say, Rachel Maddow.

      Assuming, arguendo, that a Rachel Maddow would be allowed within 100 feet of a Republican President.

    • Submitted by richard owens on 10/12/2015 - 04:40 pm.

      One can do an interview without aggression and confrontation.

      Well prepared questions that seek information do not require hostility or “in your face” behavior.

      In fact, that kind of confrontational style belongs in a court of law in the examination of a hostile witness.

      What Croft did is not called “doing his job” but more accurately “inserting himself in the story.”

      Taking pleasure at the disrespectful tone and confrontational attitude of Croft damages the information and the whole process.

      We know you’re “conservative” and “anti-Obama” from your single-minded posts. But consider this President has held more informative open and honest new conferences and interviews than any past President you can name. Besides, good reporting and good interviews do not require the drama or the “inquisition” method one would use on a criminal prosecution.

      Americans like me (and a few million others) are sick of your demands to treat the duly elected President of the United States of America like a criminal just because you are full of resentment.

      The President is a person who lives and breathes, just like you.
      He deserves respect as our CiC.

      Joe, you need to EARN respect, at least until you serve your country in this high capacity.

    • Submitted by Phil Dech on 10/12/2015 - 05:08 pm.

      Fair enough, the president should be asked tough questions. But if the interviewer can’t get his questions beyond the level of the talking points, even if the president’s answers could have taken down more thoughtful avenues, then that is a problem.

  7. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 10/12/2015 - 11:32 am.

    The issue that isn’t being discussed is the death of the old adage–politics stop at the water’s edge.

    It’s a massive game of “gotcha” being played by the Republicans, which to be honest, is the only option for them when they can’t even unite to name a post-office.

    Congress wants a say in international relations and commitment of the military, yet they won’t take the basic actions required to do so.

    So it devolves into magical thinking of “if only Obama had done…”

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 10/12/2015 - 12:52 pm.

      “won’t take the basic actions required”

      Like elect a Speaker of the House and take a couple votes before the government (which, I believe, includes the State Department and Department of Defense) runs out of money?

  8. Submitted by John Edwards on 10/12/2015 - 11:58 am.

    Blame Fox

    Yes, Eric, it was surprising to see a reporter at the very liberal CBS actually ask President Obama penetrating questions. What caused this rarity is that Steve Kroft and his liberal colleagues in the media were embarrassed watching the way conservative Fox journalists Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace stuck it to the Republican candidates during the first GOP debate. Liberals are used to seeing Andrea Mitchell of the staunchly liberal NBC-MSNBC gushing before Hillary Clinton. Anything resembling actual journalism toward a favored liberal politician stuns them, as your reaction demonstrates.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/12/2015 - 12:21 pm.

      I think Joe and you are on the right track. Who would ever expect an easy interview from 60 minutes?

      Especially with the results us his foreign policies being questionable at best.

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 10/12/2015 - 01:11 pm.

        Just so we’re all clear here

        You and others commenting here that believe Steve Kroft did a fine job, and, in general, agree that the President of the United States has shone “great weakness,” are saying you do indeed favor a policy of sending back several hundred thousand troops to impose a peace and police the region even if it meant thousands more of them would be killed or injured at a cost of another trillion or so dollars?

        Is that about it? Or do you all have some alternative Grand Strategy you’d care to share?

        • Submitted by Bill Willy on 10/12/2015 - 08:01 pm.


          Anyone . . ? Anyone . . ? Alternatives to Obama’s Middle East weakness? Your description of and ideas about how to apply the necessary America Strong strength conservatives are demanding and implying they, unlike him, will deliver (if elected)?


        • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/12/2015 - 10:10 pm.


          I think the big mistake occurred when the troops were pulled out of Iraq prematurely so that Obama could keep a campaign promise. As for what to do now that chaos has ensued… That is a good question.

          I am guessing that many Americans think Bush made a mistake by invading Iraq instead of keeping the no fly zones going oin indefinitely. I am guessing that they would like him to admit the error.

          I am guessing that many Americans think Obama made a mistake by pulling the troops out pre-maturely and allowing the sacrifice made during the Bush administration to go to waste. I am guessing that they would like him to admit the error

          Now the question is does any President have the humility to say “we screwed up”. Or do they work to evade making candid answers.

          • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 10/13/2015 - 09:09 am.


            Let’s review what actually happened, shall we? The troops were withdrawn on the schedule agreed to by President Bush. That agreement required Iraq’s legislative body to approve any continued U.S. presence. The U.S. insisted on continuing immunity for our soldiers from the Iraqi civilian courts, a position which was untenable to Iraqi officials. President Obama rightly refused to keep our troops in the country under those circumstances.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/13/2015 - 10:04 am.


              RB and Sean,
              Let’s face it, Obama could have negotiated something so the USA could have stayed in Iraq. If only in the troublesome NW quadrant. As for Bush’s planned pull out date… Plans need to change when things do not happen correctly. The reality is that Democrats wanted US forces out of Iraq and Obama complied.

              Now Democrats disapproved of the Iraq invasion, and seem to think it would have been okay maintaining the No Fly Zone’s forever. Yet they sure were in a hurry to pull out the soldiers. And therefore the region crashed. If you want to blame Bush for the invasion, then at least blame Obama for leaving the big power vaccuum in the Middle East.

              • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/13/2015 - 10:35 am.

                “Obama could have negotiated something . . .”

                How? The Iraqis would not agree to immunity for US troops. What would further negotiations have accomplished?

                “The reality is that Democrats wanted US forces out of Iraq and Obama complied.” The reality was that most Americans wanted US forces out. Most Americans continue to want US forces out of Iraq. I can’t help but think that has some implications in a democracy.

              • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 10/13/2015 - 11:00 am.


                You’re making an assumption without any evidence. To this day, there’s no popular or legislative support in Iraq — even with ISIS controlling large swaths of territory in the country — to return U.S. troops on a significant scale. The current Iraqi Prime Minister was one of the hardliners in the parliament opposing immunity for American troops in 2011.

              • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 10/13/2015 - 03:02 pm.

                We don’t belong in Iraq

                And we never did. You can’t stay where you don’t belong, you aren’t welcome, and you can’t afford to force your stay longer. AMERICANS wanted us out Iraq, and that’s what happened. Are you saying that we should have continued to pay billions and trillions of taxpayer dollars to stay where we don’t belong against the taxpayers’ will? I thought I saw you saying something about taxpayers keeping their money to do what they want with it rather than having the government take it and spend it. Which position do you hold because they’re not compatible with each other. But then, I suspect you know that. I just don’t understand your motivation for it. It seems to me that there are only a few reasons for people to sow such discord in America, and none of them are in the best interest of the United States of America.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/13/2015 - 05:45 pm.


                  You now have the benefit of hindsight. What would you have done differently since 1990? I am very curious.

                  • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 10/15/2015 - 10:16 am.


                    Just because hindsight proves foresight right doesn’t mean that there wasn’t the benefit of foresight in the first place. We did not and do not belong in Iraq–even for the first Gulf War. I didn’t believe so then and I don’t believe so now. I believe, and the evidence provides support for this, that the Iraq invasion after 9/11 was simply revenge from a cowboy wannabe who might have believed he had justification because he wasn’t smart enough to know better when his advisers lied to him. Or…he did know better and was part of the grand lie to the American public. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the US White House at the time was the only group lying, but I’d like to point out this particular point from your link which is relevant to your post that I originally replied to:
                    “2003 March – US-led invasion topples Saddam Hussein’s government, marks start of years of violent conflict with different groups competing for power.”

                    There’s your vacuum. The switch was flipped in March 2003 or earlier.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/15/2015 - 11:40 am.

                      Hindsight Continued

                      So are you saying that we should have stood by and let Saddam take over Kuwait? I am fine with that answer. If he had kept going, would you have ever tried to stop his expansion?


                      The next decision point was after putting the “Tiger in the Box”. (ie maintaining the No Fly Zones) What would you have done then? Keep them up indefinitely like in South Korea? Or just walk away and let Saddam have his way again? Or oust him as was done?

                      Just to gain perspective, do you think we belonged in Europe during WWI and WWII? How do you draw your lines?

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/13/2015 - 06:07 pm.

                  Food for Thought

                  This is an interesting piece. It explains the high cost of the conflict and at least one key benefit for the American citizens.

                  “”If we had had the foresight to see how long it would last and even if it would have cost half the lives, we would not have gone in,” Bucci said. “Just the time alone would have been enough to stop us. Everyone thought it would be short.” Bucci said the toppling of Saddam and the results of an unforeseen conflict between U.S.-led forces and al Qaeda militants drawn to Iraq were positive outcomes of the war. “It was really in Iraq that ‘al Qaeda central’ died,” Bucci said. “They got waxed.””

                  In summary, the fight was kept off of American soil and the terrorists spent a huge amount of resources fighting our armed volunteer military personnel instead of spending those personnel and resources trying to stage attacks on American and European civilians.

                  Like with all decisions there are costs on both sides. I am curious what the cost of doing nothing and incurring another 9/11 would have been on American freedoms, economics, citizens, etc. Even today we are still benefiting from the unrest as most “would be terrorists” flock to NW Iraq.

                  Please also note that most of the large expenditures went to American citizens who work for the war, transport, manufacturing or healthcare industries. The money was not poured into a hole in Iraq. Not a preferred jobs program, but a jobs program all the same…

                  • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 10/14/2015 - 09:14 am.

                    I guess I’m not a huge fan of using our military as a tethered goat. And I don’t think anyone has suggested that “doing nothing” was the only alternative option.

                    And, no the money wasn’t poured into a hole in Iraq — it was shipped on pallets and handed out in duffel bags.

                    From the Guardian: February 7, 2007:

                    “The US flew nearly $12bn in shrink-wrapped $100 bills into Iraq, then distributed the cash with no proper control over who was receiving it and how it was being spent. …

                    One contractor received a $2m payment in a duffel bag stuffed with shrink-wrapped bundles of currency. Auditors discovered that the key to a vault was kept in an unsecured backpack.

                    They also found that $774,300 in cash had been stolen from one division’s vault. Cash payments were made from the back of a pickup truck, and cash was stored in unguarded sacks in Iraqi ministry offices. One official was given $6.75m in cash, and was ordered to spend it in one week before the interim Iraqi government took control of Iraqi funds.”

                    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 10/14/2015 - 10:46 am.

                      Tethered goat

                      Best comment of the day!

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/14/2015 - 02:03 pm.

                      Waste and Goats

                      Yes there is waste and mismanagement in all government systems. Please remember our discussions regarding the waste and fraud in the ~1 trillion dollar per year welfare / medicaid systems. I have no doubt that 5% to 10% of the Iraq spend was not used wisely in that chaotic environment. However the other 95% did go to troops, transport, manufacturers, suppliers, doctors, nurses, etc. One beneficiary was a special suit manufacturer in Madison SD, another was Osh Kosh trucks in Wisconsin.

                      These goats were not tethered or defenseless. They are highly trained and armored volunteer soldiers who have sworn to protect America and it’s citizens. I wonder how they feel about you referring to them as tethered goats? I am thinking my Marine friend will likely find that incorrect and offensive.

                    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/14/2015 - 06:24 pm.


                      The Iraqi’s were going to swim the the U.S.A. and attack us?
                      American soil was never in danger from Iraq. Now Egypt (the homeland of the 9/11 attackers) and Saudi Arabia (where the attacks we planned and funded) are another matter.
                      And the U.S. Army never secured much more than Baghdad and Kabul. Most of Iraq and Afghanistan remained hostile territory. As usual, we got ourselves into the middle of a civil war where there was no clear winner other than a few corrupt politicians.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/14/2015 - 10:19 pm.

                      Good Swimmers

                      Apparently the Jihadists must swim well… Since they have left 80 countries to go to Iraq/Syria/Afghanistan.

                      Now where else could these 10’s of thousands of jihadists have been creating chaos over the past ~15 years?

                    • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 10/15/2015 - 08:41 am.

                      You’re missing the real question

                      How many new jihadists did we radicalize by our actions in the Middle East over that time?

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/15/2015 - 05:28 pm.

                      Very Good Question

                      How many? How would one know?

                    • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 10/15/2015 - 08:29 am.

                      The argument you made in your previous post was just another after-the-fact rationalization for the disastrous decision to invade Iraq. Once WMDs and the fever dream of igniting democracy in the Middle East were exposed, there had to be another rationale to make it look good. All of sudden, it becomes, “because we sent our troops over there, they couldn’t attack us here because they took the bait”. Which, of course, is another of your assertions without evidence, because we know there were actual attacks here (Fort Hood, for instance) and abroad (too many to mention) that were at least inspired from the region.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/15/2015 - 11:53 am.

                      Costs and Benefits

                      I don’t think Bush took us in to set a trap for Jihadists.

                      We were discussing costs and benefits of being engaged in the region. Many of the other commenters here only see huge expenditures and loss of life.

                      I am just making sure the benefits are not overlooked. Here are some of the technologies developed in part because of the challenges faced in that those tough environments.


          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/13/2015 - 09:14 am.

            Keep a Campaign Promise?

            I didn’t think this would need to be repeated: troops were pulled out of Iraq because the Iraqi government would not agree to a satisfactory Status of Forces agreement (the agreement that governs the rules for US troops stationed on foreign soil). The withdrawal was agreed to by the Bush administration.

            If by “keeping a campaign promise” you mean “complying with international law,” then I don’t know what to think.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/12/2015 - 12:25 pm.

      What if

      One more thought, what do you think it would sound like if Eric got to interview Pres Obama? I personally think he would gush even better than Andrea.

  9. Submitted by Jim Million on 10/12/2015 - 12:26 pm.

    As do most interviewers…

    Pandering to your outstretched Left hand again, Mr. Black?

    Sorry for your discomfort, folks. Even Charlie Rose has gotten into this style of challenge.

    Failing to write/read from the equator puts one in danger of slipping off the globe.

    Time to check the prints on all extremities, isn’t it?

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/12/2015 - 12:26 pm.

    I think Croft crossed the line…

    At one point this morphed into an attack rather than an interview, Croft was actually trying to cut off the President in order to score his own points. I don’t recall any 60 Minutes interview EVER where I’ve seen that happen. I’m not gong to complain because I think Obama handled it well, but it wasn’t professional. Furthermore Croft was full of crap, when asked who “they” were he just rattled off country names as if whole nations are speaking with one voice that can be referenced in a debate. What does it mean the “Saudi’s” say we’re in “retreat”?

    You can say Croft was doing his job, OK, but no one on 60 Minutes EVER did their job when Bush and Cheney were in office then.

  11. Submitted by Mike Ryan on 10/12/2015 - 01:08 pm.

    Old Hat for Conservatives

    You see this style whenever the “mainstreamers” interview conservatives. They routinely debate from the liberal point of view rather than conduct an impartial interview. I don’t care for this style from either side, but now you see what conservatives face all the time.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/12/2015 - 01:59 pm.

      Not By a Long Shot

      “Mainstreamers” are, as a rule, deferential towards conservatives. Anyone old enough to remember the softballs lobbed at President Reagan, or the second President Bush.

      Conservatives bristle at hard questions like what newspapers or magazines the interviewee reads.

  12. Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 10/12/2015 - 02:00 pm.

    Mr Obama has received a “free pass” for the last 6 years. It is about time someone asked the questions and challenged the answers.

  13. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 10/12/2015 - 02:20 pm.

    About time

    Obama has let a sloppy and lazy press get off too often.

  14. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 10/12/2015 - 02:55 pm.

    When thoughtless conservatives and intelligent liberals debate

    Liberals come out on the winning side and conservatives look like whining losers. The Republicans would shut down our government to make a philosophical point – with every year, the philosophical point changes. They would invest trillions of dollars and millions of lives in wars that accomplish nothing, just to show how tough we are. I think the debates shouldn’t between within parties, but between parties. If so Hillary and Bernie would demolish the vacuous Republican argummnts.

  15. Submitted by cory johnson on 10/12/2015 - 02:55 pm.

    Mr Kroft has interviewed Obama several times…

    And has been criticized for softball questions:
    The amount of liberal whining taking place because 60min finally challenged a Democrat is pathetic.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/12/2015 - 04:25 pm.

      In the Middle

      You don’t think there’s a happy medium? Can hard questions be asked without getting confrontational, or arguing with the interviewee?

      Mr. Kroft sounded like Jason Lewis–talking over the President to make his own point–without the pseudo-intellectual veneer.

  16. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 10/12/2015 - 06:00 pm.

    It’s a dumb way to run an interview if you really want to find out anything:

    one, bouncing from topic to topic–any politician has at least 10 intelligent minutes on a topic

    second, going for the “Perry Mason” moment–the witness breaking down on the stand and tearfully confess their guilt under ruthless questioning–never going to happen

  17. Submitted by Brian Stricherz on 10/12/2015 - 06:06 pm.

    Presidents should be challenged by the media….

    …. but the interview by Steve Kroft was inane.

  18. Submitted by Dennis Carlson on 10/12/2015 - 08:46 pm.

    CBS owns this too

    The whole interview approach was a failed strategy by both CBS (and Steve Kroft) to reestablish Mr. Kroft as a credible reporter after his personal trouble knocked him off the air for some months. The attempt seemed to me to fall short of the designed “tough reporter style” of a Mike Wallace or a Dan Rather. Kroft came off as angry, frustrated, even confused at times, as where to go next or what to say. President Obama on the other hand, bailed him out more than once by answering questions that should have been asked and re-framed those that fell flat.

    The ultra conservative Tea Party folks have attacked this President from Day 1. Examples come to mind – an obstructionist anti-government Congress, the phony birth certificate argument, his supposed Muslim religion, the death panel scam, and constant criticism of Obamacare. Given that backdrop, I thought he summarized his foreign policy accomplishments as President quite well. President Obama did not spend a trillion dollars invading a foreign country under a false premise, has kept America safe, has begun to build a coalition of foreign powers to battle ISIS – and I wish he would have added – removed from this earth the most wanted and hated criminal in the world, Osama Bin Laden.

    Eric, well done critique on the interview. I hope CBS sends Kroft back to the minor leagues for a while to see if he can get his head on straight and his ego in check.

  19. Submitted by John Appelen on 10/13/2015 - 08:45 am.


    This was one of the most interesting exchanges.

    “Steve Kroft: A year ago when we did this interview, there was some saber-rattling between the United States and Russia on the Ukrainian border. Now it’s also going on in Syria. You said a year ago that the United States– America leads. We’re the indispensible nation. Mr. Putin seems to be challenging that leadership.

    President Barack Obama: In what way? Let– let’s think about this– let– let–”

    Why in the world would Obama deny this? And most of the interview seemed to go this way. It was like Steve was trying to heard cats…

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/13/2015 - 11:44 am.


      Very clever selection. You chose not to copy the part that shows Mr. Kroft interrupting the President’s answer (something he did throughout the interfview), or the President’s actual reply to the question, when he was allowed to get a word in edgewise:

      “So that’s leading, Steve? Let me ask you this question. When I came into office, Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin. Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally. “

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/13/2015 - 01:02 pm.

        Please remember the question / statement was: “Mr. Putin seems to be challenging that leadership.” Based on the article below, I think the answer is yes Putin is challenging the USA….


        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/13/2015 - 05:31 pm.

          Challenging someone

          does not necessarily constitute leadership.
          Much of what Putin has being doing has been to distract Russians from his disasterous domestic policies.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/14/2015 - 07:13 am.

            But “challenging that leadership” is “challenging that leadership”… Steve did not say that Putin had “taken over that leadership”… Whereas Obama went straight to denial that a contest was even underway. It was odd.

        • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 10/14/2015 - 07:58 am.

          The poor quality of the interview is evident.

          If you want an answer to a specific question, ask the specific question and press for the specific answer.

          Mr.Kroft’s technique was to float a variety of issues in the same statement and was basically asking for free-association in return.

          The person subjected to that type of “question” does’t/can’t respond to all of those at once, and of course, will choose to respond as they want to the cloud of statements.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/14/2015 - 09:33 am.

            I agree that Steve could have done better with more clear questions. However I think the folks would have been even more upset because it would have been even more of an inquisition.

            I feel for anyone trying to interview a Politician, since they are very well schooled into turning any question into a reason to bring up the talking point they want to discuss.

  20. Submitted by joe smith on 10/13/2015 - 08:53 am.

    Kraft has been a cheerleader for Obama throughout his career but much like the rest of America he doesn’t see the Obama rederic match the results. With only 20 some percent of Americans seeing our country on the right track hard questions with follow ups was warranted.

  21. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 10/13/2015 - 09:49 am.


    I can’t decide if the proposition that the thought that the corporate owned main stream media are liberal lap dogs is more laughable, sad, or pathetic.

    As is the corporate suite at GE is filled with a bunch of pinkos. There’s a reason that the Ed Show was cancelled by MSNBC. He was the only host that consistently berated the TPP.

  22. Submitted by Bill Willy on 10/13/2015 - 09:37 pm.

    Request For Proposal (RFP)

    For whatever reasons, Steve Kroft seemed to be “channeling” two main beefs Obama’s opponents seem to agree on, coast-to-coast (and in the “hallowed halls of Congress,” that current bastion of conservative principals, thought, rhetoric, and bizarre combination of simultaneous chaotic action and no action at all):

    1) “Kroft was essentially voicing the arguments of the president’s neoconservative critics that the Mideast is falling apart because Obama is too reluctant to get tough”; and

    2) “He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President.”

    So whether it was Steve Kroft’s personal perspective or he was just giving voice to what a lot of conservative Americans have been thinking and saying for quite a while now, those seemed to be the two main issues that weren’t really being discussed here. It seemed the “optics” (for lack of a better term) were the main subject instead, which may or may not have been “appropriate,” given the headline and (interesting) take on the story: Regular old ho hum presidential interview turns into worm wrestle.

    I found the subject of that debate more interesting than the other stuff, and because more than one person was defending Steve Kroft, it seemed to me those people must hold those same views that essentially boil down to an at least semi-passionate belief that Obama has been weak when it comes to what’s been happening in Iraq and Syria and, most recently, with Vladimir Putin and Russia’s involvement.

    And that made me think people who believe that to be the case must have some fairly concrete ideas about what Obama (or the U.S. in general) should have done, or should be doing, instead.

    So I asked the people who were taking Steve Kroft’s side to provide a little detail on what they think those better-than-Obama approaches — what the “strong” approaches conservatives seem to be clamoring for — are.

    And that was yesterday afternoon. And so far, John Appelen’s the only one that has had any kind of answer to that question at all. He didn’t say anything about what the better alternative might be, but he at least took a stab at answering.

    So I thought I’d put the same question here and make it crystal clear that I’d be interested as can be in hearing the views of anyone that thinks Obama has indeed been weak in his general foreign policy and, more specifically, his actions, or non-actions, in Iraq and Syria (not counting his supposed “bungling” of the “early troop withdrawal” which is real well covered above).

    Here’s the question again:

    If you agree with the two main points Steve Kroft was making in his discussion/debate with the president, are you in favor of sending a substantial number of U.S. troops (thousands or hundreds of thousands) back into the area to, as the president put it, “impose a peace and police the region even if it meant thousands more of them would be killed or injured at a cost of another trillion or so dollars”?

    Or, if not that, what do you suggest as an alternative strategy that would meet the standard of “toughness” you think the president’s approach lacks?

    And, while we’re at it, how would you suggest that alternative strategy be paid for? Would you be in favor of raising whatever taxes were necessary (on all Americans), or would you recommend the cost be added to the deficit and debt (that conservatives in congress are willing to shut down the government over), or do you have some other method of paying for it in mind?

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 10/14/2015 - 04:51 pm.

      It should be pointed out that the Republican Party has been “challenging” Barack Obama’s leadership (and citizenship) since before day one. Should The U.S. armed forces invade the GOP?

  23. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/14/2015 - 08:25 am.

    I just have to say…

    It’s kind of funny to see our erstwhile conservatives complain about “liberal” whining in the wake of a 60 minutes interview after Trumps apoplectic responses to the media. And the idea that Obama has gotten a “free ride” of any kind, especially when compared to Reagan and post Reagan republicans is simply absurd.

    The problem with the Croft interview isn’t that he asked questions, the problem is he wouldn’t let Obama answer the questions he was asking. Croft was clearly frustrated that his “clever” questions were failing to elicit a: “deer in the headlights” response from Obama. In fact, Obama actually laughed at a few of the “questions” because they were so absurd. Crofts argument that the Middle East sees the US as being in retreat was too silly to respond to.

    Beyond all this, one has to ask when and where guys like Croft got the idea that Obama is the president of the world rather than the United States? Obama kept alluding to the fact that he is not elected by Syrians, Israelis, Iraqis, Libyans, Egyptians, etc. and it’s not really Obama’s job to solve their problems. Obama kept pointing out the fact that the United States is safer and better off, and THAT after all is the US Presidents job.

  24. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/14/2015 - 08:40 am.

    To put a finer point on it

    I don’t care if an interviewer tries to argue with the President, but if they do, I expect them to argue with integrity, not simply toss republican talking points and hysteria at the President.

  25. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 10/14/2015 - 01:47 pm.

    Yours, mine and ours

    If you consider, or for some, think back to Eisenhower and Kennedy the consensus was they each were “our” President: elected by Ds or Rs but accepted decently by both sides after their election. With Johnson, Viet Nam and The Great Society things begin to diverge, Nixon’s crimes spread the divide between Presidential supporters and detractors, Ford and Carter sustained it, Reagan/Bush saw it increase and Clinton ushered in the era of “he’s not my President” and open hostility became the order of the day by the opposing party. The President of the United States deserves better treatment than Caitlyn Jenner in an interview. Croft should know this. There simply is a higher standard respecting the office. If we get to President Trump all of the hate spewing Obama detractors will be shocked at the left’s lack of deference to our new President. What goes around comes around. Till it doesn’t.

  26. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/15/2015 - 08:35 am.

    Man-up and argue if that’s what you want to do

    I guess it’s been a while so let’s explain the difference between a debate game and a substantive argument or discussion: An “argument” is not a claim that someone else says something. It doesn’t matter who “says” stuff, Al Jazeera is irrelevant. An argument is a claim based on relevant evidence. Whether or not Putin’s influence is growing is not determined by what someone says, it’s determined by facts on the ground. You want to make THAT argument, you need to bring some facts to the table, not tell us that someone says it. Pointing to what someone else says rather than substantive relevant facts is debate gaming, not argument.

    If Croft wants to argue that Putin’s influence is growing he needs to cowboy up and make an argument, not claim that someone else “says” it. Obama can’t “argue” with “them”… he can only talk to people who are in the room and if Croft doesn’t have the guts to take on that role he should stick to doing and interview instead of an argument. If Croft is so interested in what “they” are saying, he should be interviewing “them”, not Obama.

    Croft was obviously not prepared for any substantive argument beyond his attitude so he should have stuck with an interview. Instead of debate gaming about Putin’s increased influence, he should have simply asked Obama whether or not the US is in “retreat” or Putin’s influence is increasing or eclipsing the US. Obama pointed out the fact that Croft wasn’t even asking questions, I’m pointing out the fact that he wasn’t even making arguments.

  27. Submitted by Jim Million on 10/18/2015 - 09:36 am.

    A bit of interesting background

    “Critical Questions: 60 Minutes Across the Decades”


    This piece from last October captures the evolution fairly well.

    Teaser: “And the blogosphere is probably the postmodern incarnation of Andy Rooney … only on steroids.”

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