Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Obama calls Kanye West a 'jackass.' But not officially


Oh, the perils of social media for politicians in modern life.

President Obama was giving an interview today to CNBC. An ABC reporter said he overheard the president call Kanye West a "jackass" for his dramatic interruption of the VMA's Sunday night to praise a Beyonce video that did not win.

Said ABC reporter immediately Twittered the comment to a million or so folks:

"Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a 'jackass' for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT'S presidential."

Do you think that started bouncing around as an RT?

(UPDATE: Tuesday 1:14 p.m. TMZ has the actual audio right here. is running an online poll here that shows overwhelming on-the-record support for the president's remark.)

But there's a problem.

It seems that what got Twittered was during a so-called "off-the-record" portion of the interview. (Remember, Beyonce sang "At Last" at Obama's inaugural ball.) Such casual between-us-folks chatter is often a part of the technical set-up before an interview officially begins.

So, officially for the record, the president never really called the music star what he reportedly called him.

ABC issued an apology to both CNBC and the White House (and removed the Tweet, but not before folks got screen-grab images of it) and promised to ensure no repetition. How long do you think now before ABC gets an exclusive Obama interview?

Kanye West apologized Sunday night and again tonight during an interview on the premiere of the new "Jay Leno Show" on NBC.

This isn't the first time Obama's been burned by off-the-record that wasn't off-the record.

Remember during the Democratic presidential primary campaign when the then-Illinois senator complained to rich folks at a San Francisco fundraiser about bitter Pennsylvanians clinging to their guns and religion? But there was a Huffington Post reporter there with a tape recorder?

Hillary Clinton found time to mention that gaffe in her campaign and took the state. And Obama's going back there to visit tomorrow.

-- Andrew Malcolm

For the record, get Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item by clicking here. Or follow us   @latimestot

Comments () | Archives (82)

The comments to this entry are closed.


as always the president keeps the whip for his supporters and the honey for the teabaggers.

yet another demonstration of the power of tantrums

by the way I do agree with the POTUS but I just hate his guts so I am going to pretend that I don't.

Obviously, Terry Moran has no respect for his profession as a journalist nor does he have respect for the president. This whole Twittering thing has totally gotten out of control....maybe journalist cell phones should be banned before official interviews....

Oh Kanye's definitely and officially a "Jackass". Have no doubt and also don't believe the act on the Jay Leno show. All that matters is that his records sell well so that he can afford to stay drunk. Tomorrow bright and early no doubt he will be checking on his sales. Not selling enough? well go on another talk show and talk about your mom. She's probably good for another 10,000 units.

OK, so, Kayne West isn't the only jackass here. Add Andrew Malcolm t the list and move on to real news reporting.

Kanye West IS a jackass!!! Obama is right again.

Terry Moran is a jackass.

Awesome! The guy is a jackass! Isn't it nice to have a President who speaks the truth!

Well...the President is right, Kanye is a jackass. What's the problem?

The President is entitled to his opinion (shared by millions & millions). However we can now add reporters to those many people who shouldn't be trusted. On second thought, I've worked with reporters; they're no better than anyone else.

Jackass is, indeed, presidential and diplomatic. Another word which includes a synomym of posterior and rhymes with bowl leaps to mind. Unfortunately, I am suffering from juvenile dementia and cannot recall the exact word. But then, that's Kanye West being Kanye West. If a caucasian had used such "unspeakable" language to an African-American entertainer, then much stronger vitriol would have been hurled. Welcome to American, ya'll!!

So what if Pres. Obama did call West a jackass? West earned the title by his own actions. I have no problem with Obama saying it, on or off the record.

I wonder if Obama will go on record with his comment. It might help his approval ratings. :-)

Amazing, what a country. Lets be honest, no one will care about this incident since Taylor Swift in not American-African.

So sad Obama got caught making a naughty comment! I do not recall any media apologies for when they used audio of open mics with Bush or Cheney!

It just amazes me how all the rules have changed with a Democrat in the whitehouse. A perfect example is the coverage of the protest over the weekend in Washington DC.

Do you think the media would have covered this differently, had it been a march supporting health Care Reform, instead of a march agianst it? Why is one news and one is not?

Partisan media coverage!

Thank-you,MR.PRESIDENT! You described his behavior to a T.

Good job at being a bully. What the world were you thinking? Or were you, maybe you should keep your drinking issues under wraps and not look like a jackass next time your out and about. Who do you think you are anyway, are you the head honcho of the vma awards. Seriously mind your business your not anybodies keeper.

A whole lot of nuthin'. Move on...

I've never been an Obama supporter but honestly I have more respect for him calling this guy a jackass than anything else he's done. "off the record" comments from politicians should be made public more often, then maybe we could see who they really are.

really want to piss off a president now ABC, go off the record and then report on it on your would think they would be just a little smarter.

If he did that only proves how smart he is, Kanye West IS a jackass.

Kanye West is a no-talent fool, just another "rapper" hanging desperately onto the term pretending like so many others that it is real cultural music. The world is sick of all the initialed fools and would be gangsters playing at this tough act......lets get back to real music like Ray Charles and Nat King Cole...musicians not clowns with guns.

The recent tea party organized by Mark Williams surely revealed the racism and selfishness of the republican party. It clearly demonstrated how far the republicans can go in hindering progress. To praise the unethical behavior of Wilson is the consummate devaluation of the congress, a show of how evil can errupt in a seemingly normal and educated congress man.

This isn't news and is just heresay. Fins some real news to discuss.

Kanye is not a jackass. He's a racist.

President Obama is entitled to his opinion as is any other American. Quite frankly, though I don't agree with him on all the domestic issues that we are now presented with, I believe he is dead center on the money with his assessment of Mr. West."Kanye" is the epitome of arrogance, and his shameful behavior toward a young and up and coming star was mitigated only by the grace and class of Beyonce. Mr. West needs to spend a few of his "hard earned" dollars for a private course of study with Miss Manners. I would recommend "How Not to Be A Major Jackass 101." ( In the very accurate words of President Obama.)

oh, so obama can call a black man a jackass, but he takes any and all abuse from a white man and it's okay?

and y'all voted for that uncle tom coward!


Finally! This is the first truth Obama has spoken since the he began his run for the presidency. I'm glad to see that he's actually capable of it.

I'm thinking this entire rasict problem that the President has could be sorted out if Kayne had him over for some malt liquor.

Well, at least nobody can say the President was lying, right?

Well ....... we can all understand why the President would not want to say that officially, but the fact is that Kanye West was offensive, dumb, an example of the increasing incivility in public dialogue. West did a good job of issuing an apology, but the problem is that apologies do not effectively change the tenor of what is happening. The incivility is just an example of people increasingly refusing to give others the respect that they expect for themselves.

Who is this ABC reporter? What is his name?

I do not really agree with anything Obama says, but I think his comment was brilliant. He should have made it official: it makes him look strong and critical rather than weak and superficially overly-tolerant.

West is a jackass. What's the big deal? And so is that Moran, for that matter.

Whatever. I doubt the president is all that mortified at having this comment leaked. I strongly suspect that most members of the public feel the same way he does.

Kanye West is a jackass...there is no better word to describe his action...

The President is right: Kanye West is a jackass.

Now he just needs to start saying that about the Republican opponents to Health Care Reform and he'll be onto something.

Why do people, including reporters, treat Obama differently than they treated Bush and Cheney. Um, because they were lying criminals and an embarrassment to intelligent people everywhere. Oh, yeah. They were also never elected and should both be on trial for hundreds of crimes against the people and the nation. Duh!

BREAKING: An unnamed ABC source who was present at the interview claims Obama went on to describe water as "rather fluid in nature" and fire as "hot"...

well we can all finally agree on something!

now was Kanye being a racist too??...lets ask Maureen Dowdy NYtimes... see what words she can add to this to make it a make believe race card!

Finally, Obama called something correctly.



The media Fox News and all of the major news outlets are trying to butcher President Obama. Why? Because the media is extremely negative and our president is trying to promote positivity.

I worked for a local news station in Los Angeles and negativity in the newsroom abounds.

When President Obama delivers a speech he ends it with "God Bless The United States of American". This is the president I voted for and will support him inspite of the bad press that he gets.

Is the president of the United States calling a citizen a "jackass" better or worse than a congressman calling the president a liar, or a political commentator saying the president might be a racist?

What? Obama *finally* does something I can support, and now we're trying to play it down, deny it? Kanye is a jackass -- why would he think a hit record makes him some sort of authority figure who can just walk on stage and ruin an evening for everyone? Does he really think anyone really cares about his opinion on some award? Obama (finally) called it like he saw it (before his handlers could tell him how he 'saw it', anyway) - nothing wrong with that, as far as I can see.

You're reporting on what someone thought they heard and put on Twitter? Do you honestly think this is journalism?

So, let me get this straight. Obama made a comment, not regarding race or religion, and he's persecuted for it? I am not saying the man is perfect, but who (of the Judgment committee against him) are? Kanye made an error in his actions, ok big deal. Obama said he was a "jackass" for it, ok another big deal. If priority matters, who really gives a damn about this? I would rather spend time on the healthcare plan, and bringing home young men and women who are dying daily for our freedom to call ANYBODY a jackass personally.

Obama wasn't insulting him when he called him a Jack Ass. He just called him a Democrat

Let me get this straight...this is story is somehow a big deal? Everybody on the Earth who saw or heard about the VMAs had something negative to say about Kayne West...but when Obama says it as he chit chats with somebody in between interviews...he's causing a controversy and getting himself into trouble again for off the record remarks? WTH? So he's not allowed to voice his opinion that is pretty much the same opinion of everybody? What is wrong with you people? Do the anti-Obama idiots try to turn everything into a fight? Please please...get a life and stop the hate.

Terry Moran takes off-the-record comments and posts them on Twitter. Now THAT'S professional journalism.

1 2 | ยป


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: