ABC’s Claire Shipman Tosses Softballs to Jimmy Carter at ‘Incred ible’ Presidential Library

2009-10-01-ABC-GMA-Shipman.jpgABC’s Claire Shipman on Thursday fawned over Jimmy Carter, celebrated his 85th birthday and the “incredible” presidential library bearing his name. Offering few tough questions, the Good Morning America correspondent instead thrilled, “This is really incredible. I mean, the center looks amazing.”

Appearing with Carter and wife Rosalynn in Atlanta, Georgia, she completely ignored the Democrat’s comments in September that an “overwhelming portion” of anti-Obama protests are based on racism. Instead, Shipman focused on new additions to the library and cooed, “What are you hoping people are going to learn from some of these displays?”

The reporter gave no hint that a large segment of America was very unhappy with the performance of the one-term President. She described Iran as an “issue” that “you dealt with.” No mention was made of Carter’s disastrous handling of American hostages in Iran.

After asking how Barack Obama should deal with that Middle Eastern country, the ex-President responded, “I think the worst thing we can do is to continue to stop- to prevent talking to Iran and to continue to threaten Iran with attacks on their country.” Shipman had no follow-up about how this course of apparent appeasement might actually work.

In the past, the ABC correspondent has gushed over other prominent Democrats. On June 5, 2008, she lovingly compared Obama to Robert Kennedy. On July 30, 2008, Shipman asserted that Al Gore “is often named as the best choice [for vice president] in modern history.”

A transcript of the October 1, 2009 segment, which aired at 8:35am EDT, follows,

CHRIS CUOMO: Allow me to say again: It is a very special day for former President, Jimmy Carter. He’s celebrating his 85th birthday today. And it happens to be the day of the grand reopening of the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia. So, from Atlanta right now, is GMA national correspondent, Claire Shipman. She’s down there for all the events. Good morning, Claire.

CLAIRE SHIPMAN: Good morning, Chris. It is such a pleasure to be here. And let me say, happy birthday, Mr. President.

JIMMY CARTER: Thank you.

SHIPMAN: Thank you so much for both of you for being with us, to both of you. It’s a treat to be here for your birthday. And so much has changed since I was last year. This is really incredible. I mean, the center looks amazing. What I’m struck by is the focus now on the post-presidency.


SHIPMAN: It’s a fabulous part of the Carter center now. Especially the exhibits that are interactive and let you travel along, as you watch what you have both done on all your missions around the world. What are you hoping people are going to learn from some of these displays?

JIMMY CARTER: Well, I had my grandson, Hugo, in here yesterday. He’s 10 years old. He liked it very much. He is accustomed to games and fast-moving, exciting, dramatic events.

SHIPMAN: Oh, yes. My Hugo is like that, too.

JIMMY CARTER: That’s what the new museum is all about. It really tells not only my life and a continuum from the time I was a little child until now. But also, how ever person who visits here, will see their own lives intertwined in the life of our great nation. And in the continuum of things. For instance, I’ve already identified about 35 major issues on which I had to deal. And now, Obama has President Obama has the same things on his desk. Some of them are vividly shown here. Like Iran, and the Middle East peace process, and energy, and health care. I think that immersing visitors’ times in the events, as they transpire will let visitors see my life is intertwined with this. And I can see now that our country is great, always facing challenges. Sometimes those challenges reemerge. And we can solve them.

SHIPMAN: Indeed, they do. And your story has really been one of a partnership. You’ve been focused on so many issues together. You travel together. Mrs. Carter, what missions have stood out for you in the last 20 years?

ROSALYNN CARTER: Well, in the last 20 years, we worked at the Carter Center. We have really incredible programs. To go to the country where we are eradicating guinea worm. And it’s 99.9 percent gone.

SHIPMAN: I saw that! That’s incredible!

ROSALYNN CARTER: We go to a village and there’s no guinea worm. And people are dancing and singing and walking on tom walkers. It’s such wonderful celebration. Those kinds of things, with our diseases. And also, elections. Monitoring elections. People have never, ever voted before. They’re standing in line. And you talk to them. What do you want? We want peace.

SHIPMAN: What I love is that interactive table. You get a feel for the emotion you’re talking about because you get to meet some of the people who have really been helped. Mr. President, you were talking about challenges that keep coming up.


SHIPMAN: You have an Oval Office here. And you get a sense with some of the exhibits of what it’s like to spend a day in your shoes. I wonder what you think about a decision that this President had to make recently, that you probably have some thoughts on, regarding the Olympics. You were in a position where you had to boycott Olympics. Then, you saw Olympics in your hometown. Does it make sense for President Obama to travel that far, to lobby for Olympics in the United States?

JIMMY CARTER: Well, I think it will take just a few hours of his time. And it’s a very important thing for our country, as well as Chicago, to have the Olympics come here. So, I wish him every success. We were very excited when they came to Atlanta, as you know, a few years ago. There’s a lot of competition. So, I think for the President to use his abilities and his influence, not only for the nation, but also for his hometown. Being from Plains, Georgia, I certainly can’t criticize.

SHIPMAN: I understand. And also on Iran. Today, negotiations starting. And you’re right, this is an issue that- you dealt with it. Incredibly turbulent, Iran in your time in office. Do you think the way the administration is trying to handle this now, heavy on the carrot makes sense? And at what point could you pivot? When you would look for moving to another strategy?

JIMMY CARTER: Well, we should give Iran every chance to comply with international inspections, which they signed up to do with a non-proliferation treaty. I think the worst thing we can do is to continue to stop- to prevent talking to Iran and to continue to threaten Iran with attacks on their country. That’s the best way to force them to have a maximum response capability. So, I think to work with them and to comply with the international inspections is the best approach.

SHIPMAN: All right. Thank you so much Mr. and Mrs. carter. It’s been so much of a pleasure to be here. And again, happy birthday.

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