The transformation of '60 Minutes' -- now the place for swooning, softball interviews

CBS News' Steve Kroft made a statement Monday that totally epitomizes liberal media bias in the modern era.

Speaking to CNN's Piers Morgan about his interview with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the previous evening's "60 Minutes," Kroft said the president likes doing his show because "he knows that we're not going to play gotcha with him":

PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: And joining me now is 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft. Steve, welcome to you.

STEVE KROFT, CBS NEWS: Thank you, Piers. Nice to be here.

MORGAN: I want to thank you for getting every single Obama interview that I’ve been trying to get in the last two years on CNN first of all.

More On This...

KROFT: I’ve done a lot.

MORGAN: [Laughs]. Let me ask you at the top, why do you think he keeps coming to you? Because there’s two schools of thought. One is that you're the most brilliant, penetrating interviewer on American television, and the other one is that you give him a soft time, neither of which I suspect is entirely the true picture.

Actually, I imagine most right-thinking Americans believe Obama continues to do interviews with Kroft because he gives him “a soft time.”

Somewhat surprisingly, Kroft agrees:

STEVE KROFT: No, I think that first of all, I think he likes 60 Minutes. It’s, you know, we have a huge audience. We have a format that suits him. It's long. We can do twelve minutes or 24 minutes. We do a, you know, we do a good job of editing. And I’ve been doing these interviews with him since a few weeks before he declared his candidacy. So I covered him during the campaign and have kept doing it in the White House.

But I think it's a question of fairness. I, we have not, I think he knows that we're not going to play gotcha with him, that we're not going to go out of our way to make him look bad or stupid, and we'll let him answer the questions.

So Kroft thinks his job is to not make the president look bad or stupid, and to ask questions that won't be perceived as "gotcha"?

Remember when 60 Minutes was a tough, hard-hitting program that backed guests against the wall in search of the truth?

How about in 2004 when shortly before Election Day, "60 Minutes II" aired a segment that included a forged document involving President George W. Bush?

That might have been one of the biggest media gotchas in television history.

Or how about in January 2007 when Scott Pelley interviewed the same President Bush asking him questions such as:

• "The war on terror, in a sense, began in this room, began in this cabin where your Cabinet meeting was held. Back then the whole country was with you. And now you seem to have lost them. Why do you think so?"

• "But wasn't it your administration that created the instability in Iraq?"

• "Do you believe as commander-in-chief you have the authority to put the troops in there no matter what the Congress wants to do?"

• "You know better than I do that many Americans feel that your administration has not been straight with the country, has not been honest. To those people you say what? Like the weapons of mass destruction? No credible connection between 9/11 and Iraq."

• "I wonder if you feel like you've been ill-served by your Cabinet members, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, perhaps even Vice-President Dick Cheney. Wrong on WMD. Wrong on the connection between 9/11 and Iraq. And now you're in a fix. And I wonder if you look back and wonder who let you down."

I guess those kinds of questions are no longer appropriate on "60 Minutes," at least when the current occupant of the White House and his staff are present.

No wonder Obama likes doing this current iteration of gotcha-less "60 Minutes."