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Obama's interview on same-sex marriage was with a familiar face

May 09, 2012|By James Rainey
  • Roberts has had a series of exclusives with Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, that began on the night of his inauguration.
Roberts has had a series of exclusives with Obama and his wife, First Lady… (Pete Souza / White House )

When President Obama announced his new stance on same-sex marriage Wednesday, he did so to a friendly and familiar media figure for his administration — Robin Roberts of ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Roberts has had a series of exclusives with Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, that began on the night of his inauguration. With the occasional intrusion of policy matters, most of the interviews have been light and nonconfrontational.

In the brief Jan. 21, 2009, inauguration night interview, Obama told Roberts that “ultimately the American people coming together, that is going to determine what we accomplish and how we get through some very difficult challenges.”

A couple of months later, Roberts interviewed Michelle Obama as she traveled to Ft. Bragg in North Carolina to visit military families. The talk was mostly about the Obamas’ daughters, Sasha and Malia, with a bit about what the first lady did for relaxation (TV!). The piece ended with Roberts joking about Mrs. Obama’s famously buff arms.

In June 2009, Michelle Obama again talked to Roberts, this time focusing on her role in promoting wellness and exercise.

In September 2009, Roberts got an exclusive with the president as he prepared to address a joint session of Congress about healthcare. Obama laid out his upcoming speech in the broadest terms. Roberts tried to pin him down on his commitment to a government-administered “public option” for healthcare, but he wouldn’t bite. (Obama would turn to other alternatives for insuring more Americans.)

The "Good Morning America" host has reportedly been disturbed that her morning co-anchor, George Stephanopoulos, gets to take the lead on most stories. Via Twitter, she made no secret (if a bit coyly) of her pleasure at getting the scoop about same-sex marriage.

“Ummm, not sure if you heard about my interview with the President today??” Roberts wrote, as the news exploded across multiple media platforms. “You'll see it tonight on World News w/Diane and tmrw morn @GMA.”

The network had already aired a special report on the story Wednesday afternoon and planned to replay portions of the interview on “Nightline.”

ABC News’ chief spokesman, Jeffrey Schneider, said the interview had been arranged “a couple of days in advance.” Vice President Joe Biden pushed the issue to the front of the agenda Sunday when he said that he was “comfortable” with the idea of same-sex marriage.

Although many will have seen the story by Thursday morning, it is still expected to help boost viewership for “Good Morning America.” The program has recently pulled into a neck-and-neck battle with NBC’s “Today,” the perennial leader in the lucrative morning news market.

james.rainey@latimes.com

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