After six days of limiting its coverage of the scandal engulfing NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams to a few cryptic briefs only seconds long, NBC News finally provided full coverage of the controversy on Tuesday's Today show. Co-host Matt Lauer introduced the report: "And now we turn to a story that hits very close to home for all of us who work at NBC News. Brian Williams, who's anchored Nightly News since 2004, has been suspended from his job for six months."
Kyle Drennen is a Media Research Center news analyst and serves as a contributing writer to NewsBusters. He joined the MRC in 2007 after graduating from Providence College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science.
In an interview with left-wing website Vox.com released on Monday, President Obama downplayed the threat from radical Islamic terrorism and blamed the media for supposedly hyping the danger: "If it bleeds, it leads, right? You show crime stories and you show fires, because that's what folks watch, and it's all about ratings. And, you know, the problems of terrorism and dysfunction and chaos, along with plane crashes and a few other things, that's the equivalent when it comes to covering international affairs."
Following all three network evening newscasts on Monday devoting full reports to "a full blown civil rights battle" in Alabama after the state's supreme court chief justice refused to carry out a federal ruling allowing gay marriage in the state, the Tuesday morning shows on CBS, ABC, and NBC all continued to push the story.
Minutes after President Obama took a jab at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a Monday press conference, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell cheered the put-down: "...he was asked about this very controversial visit by Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks before an Israeli election....And the President very pointedly said, 'We have this protocol. We don't invite leaders. If Angela Merkel had an election in two weeks she wouldn't be here right now and my bet is that she wouldn't have asked to come.' Take that, Bibi."
In an interview with former Obama White House aide David Axelrod on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie tossed a softball on "whether racism animated some of the President's critics." She read an inflammatory quote from Axelrod's new book: "Some folks simply refused to accept the legitimacy of the first black president and are seriously discomforted by the growing diversity of our country." Without challenging the assertion, Guthrie wondered: "Is that you view and does the President share that view in your mind?"
Appearing on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports on Friday, Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd was simultaneously critical and sympathetic toward President Obama while lamenting the commander-in-chief's poor handling of foreign policy: "...you do get the sense that there is a form of Iraq war syndrome that has impacted the administration here. Where are they doing everything that they want to do or are they only doing what they think they can do under the circumstances just because of the way the Iraq war was impacted so much of the political psyche and their own psyche?"
On Friday's CBS This Morning, substitute co-host Jeff Glor introduced a report on the growing scandal surrounding NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams by proclaiming: "This morning, one of the biggest names in media is fighting for his reputation....On Wednesday, Williams said he was sorry for saying his helicopter in Iraq was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in 2003. That never happened. It's an account that has changed over the years."
As NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams became embroiled in a major controversy on Thursday over his false story of being shot at in Iraq, he joined a growing list of NBC journalists whose credibility has been shredded in recent months in the wake of various scandals.
After promoting Obama advisor David Axelrod's nasty attack on Mitt Romney on Wednesday, Thursday's CBS This Morning noticed Romney aide Garrett Jackson denouncing the claim as a complete fabrication, with co-host Norah O'Donnell informing viewers: "Jackson told CBS News, 'I just hope this lie is the work of David Axelrod and not the President. It's ridiculous. I was very disappointed they would make that up.'"
While NBC anchor Brian Williams admitted on Wednesday that he falsely claimed a helicopter he was riding in was hit by enemy fire over Iraq in 2003, his Nightly News broadcast scolded Hillary Clinton for making similar false war zone claims during the 2008 presidential campaign. On March 24, 2008, Williams opened the show by proclaiming: "Also, war of words, a new eruption among the Democrats and why Hillary Clinton is changing her story about a trip to an overseas war zone."
Touting Dr. Vivek Murthy "making history" as the "first surgeon general of Indian descent" and "one of the youngest in history," CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose welcomed the nation's new top doctor to the show Wednesday morning for "his first television interview." Rose never explained that the reason for the delayed Senate confirmation was Murthy's own partisan background and controversial anti-gun views. Senate Republicans objected to Murthy's role in founding Doctors for Obama to support the President's 2008 campaign and his open advocacy for gun control, asserting in 2012 that "Guns are a health care issue."
Wednesday's NBC Today decided that the interior design of a Republican Congressman's office was an important national news story, as co-host Savannah Guthrie informed viewers: "Let's start with the latest intrigue involving my favorite show, Downton Abby....Bright red walls and carpeting, pheasant feather displays and gold-colored sconces....This is the Downton-inspired office of this guy, Illinois Congressman Aaron Shock."
While the ABC, NBC, and CBS morning shows on Tuesday all jumped on potential Republican 2016 contenders Chris Christie and Rand Paul being sympathetic toward parents skeptical of child vaccinations, all three broadcast networks ignored Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton holding the same positions in 2008.
In an interview aired on Monday's NBC Today, President Obama discovered that speaking to an actual journalist was a bit tougher than having YouTube celebrities lob softballs at him. In the exchange – conducted prior to the Super Bowl on Sunday – co-host Savannah Guthrie grilled the President over his handling of the war on terrorism: "You said in your State of the Union that American leadership is helping to stop the advance of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. But your critics say that is delusional, that in fact they've gained more territory since the air strikes have begun."
Even as his fellow Morning Joe co-hosts praised John McCain on Friday for denouncing Code Pink anti-war protesters who attempted to disrupt a Senate hearing as "low-life sum," MSNBC's Thomas Roberts lectured the Republican Senator for shutting down the intruders: "If people want to show up and protest, right? They should be allowed to hear their voices. And instead of calling Capitol Hill police and then calling them 'low-life scum.'"
On her Thursday MSNBC show, host Andrea Mitchell was aghast at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreeing to speak before a joint session of Congress during an upcoming U.S. visit without consulting the Obama administration: "The White House is furious, furious at Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu and also a little bit angry at Speaker Boehner for inviting Netanyahu to speak before Congress, to a joint meeting of Congress without even consulting the administration – protocol would dictate that."
Appearing on Thursday's NBC Today to promote his new film Black or White, actor Kevin Costner stood by his criticism of left-wing activist Michael Moore, following Moore's remarks slamming military sniper Chris Kyle as a "coward": "I just felt that those comments were, from my point of view, really wrong."
On MSNBC's PoliticsNation on Tuesday, host Al Sharpton touted liberal Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank making a "bold prediction" about the remainder of Barack Obama's presidency: "...you wrote, quote, 'If the economy continues on its current trajectory, as most expect, he'll leave office a popular president and leave the 2016 Democratic nominee with a relatively easy past to victory.'"
After all three network evening newscasts ignored President Obama dropping his controversial plan to tax 529 college savings accounts on Tuesday, only Wednesday's CBS This Morning noticed the development, giving it a mere seventeen seconds. Neither NBC's Today nor ABC's Good Morning America covered the White House reversal.
Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Tuesday, Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein worried that the Clinton political machine would be unable to compete with funding from Charles and David Koch during the 2016 presidential campaign: "I mean, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton will be scratching lotto tickets, I think, for the next week just trying to catch up with the $889 million that the Koch brothers are going to put in here."