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Gergen on CNN: Media Need to 'Move On' From Rev. Wright Issue

By Media Research Center
April 29, 2008

During a segment on CNN's Newsroom between Tony Harris, David Gergen, and Roland Martin after the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's speech at the National Press Club, Gergen recommended that "it's time for him [Rev. Wright] to get off the stage, and frankly, for the media, I suggest, to move on." He also twice characterized the whole affair as a "sideshow."

     Shortly after a commercial break which came in the middle of the discussion, Gergen, in response to a question from Tony Harris, said of Rev. Wright: "Every time he appears, he just gives legitimacy and a hunger by those who oppose Barack Obama to re-run those tapes, to keep him at the center of controversy, to let this overhang and define Barack Obama, when it has, you know -- it has very, very little to do -- it's a very marginal piece of who Barack Obama is and what he stands for."

     Gergen, of U.S. News, then talked about how the Rev. Wright issue was a distraction, and how the preacher should have handled himself after the controversy broke, all the while heaping praise on him, and at the end, making his "move on" suggestion.

     [This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Friday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     From the 10 AM EDT hour on Monday, April 28:

     GERGEN: And it takes attention away -- we have huge, huge problems facing this country. The candidates are increasingly coming down on opposite sides. We're having no discussion of that. Instead, we're off on this sideshow, which is -- and I think that, you know, this good preacher, I'm sure he's a fine man, and if he had taken Bill Moyers on a walking tour of his parish, and shown people the good works that church was doing, you know, how it is helping the hungry, how it is looking after young kids, and the many other good things that church does -- that would have been totally appropriate. But to be on this publicity blitz, when we have to listen to his varied views, you know, I think it's time for him to get off the stage and frankly, for the media, I suggest, to move on.

     Martin voiced his agreement with Gergen, which prompted a one-liner from former presidential advisor, and even agreement from the host himself.

     ROLAND MARTIN: You know, David, when he spoke at the National Press Club today, he actually did that. He talked about all these ministries the church is involved in. I mean, I thought his opening statement -- he gave a theological, a sound opening statement. But again, the focus will not be on any of that. The focus will not be on the war, will not be on their HIV/AIDS ministry, will not be [on] any of that. It's going to be his answer to the AIDS question, it's going to be his answer towards -- talking about Dick Cheney. That's the problem with that.
     GERGEN: If this man cares one wit about electing an African-American to the highest office in the land, he should get off the national stage. You know that.
     HARRIS: Point-blank.
     MARTIN: I know. I agree. I agree. It just -- it did not help at all, and frankly, it's going to invite more questions, and so now the question is, Reverend Wright -- where does he go next? Does he continue? Does he keep talking, because absolutely, people are going to perceive-
     GERGEN: He should just go away, go back to the pulpit.
     MARTIN: Well, I tell my radio listeners that every day.

     Harris then asked his two guests, "what does Barack Obama do now in the face of this?" After an extended pause, the two give their advice. Martin thought that Obama needs to drive the point home that he is his own man. Gergen suggested that Obama "sit down in a round-table discussion with the voters from that area, with working people and talk about his hopes and plans, and let them fire away questions for what he's going to do."

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