During a discussion of the new film Lincoln on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, documentary film maker Ken Burns ranted about one of the supposed lessons he took away from the movie: "Race is always there in America....Do you think we'd have a secession movement in Texas and the other places, faddish secession movement, if this president wasn't African-American? Do you think the vitriol that came out of some elements of the Tea Party would have been at the same level had this President not been Africa-American?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
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.
Talking to chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie enthusiastically touted: "...we've seen a few Republicans peeling off from a pledge they signed to Grover Norquist, who, of course, is a lobbyist, an anti-tax lobbyist, who's been very powerful among conservatives. Is that a significant move?"
Todd replied by urging the rest of the GOP to similarly abandon core conservative principles: "I'll be impressed when you start seeing House Republicans do it....where it looks like Republicans are softening, it's Senate Republicans. If this deal could be cut between the Senate Republicans and the White House, we wouldn't even be talking about this...the fiscal cliff wouldn't be an issue."
Leading off Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams wrung his hands over Israel suffering fewer casualties than Gaza in the ongoing Mideast conflict: "It is a lop-sided fight right now, the estimated death toll is more than a hundred in Gaza, with three Israelis reported dead. The fusillade of rockets from Gaza into Israel is being answered by air strikes, many from drones, many aimed at individuals inside buildings, inside densely packed neighborhoods."
Williams's desire for a fairer fight was reminiscent of former NBC commentator John Chancellor's reaction to the Persian Gulf War in 1992, telling then-Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw: "Greenpeace, the public interest organization, believes that the Iraqi death toll, civilian and military, before and after the war, may be as high as 198,000. Allied military dead are counted in the low hundreds. The disparity is huge and somewhat embarrassing."
Appearing on Saturday's NBC Today, CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood completely dismissed the scandal surrounding the Benghazi terrorist attack as merely leftover campaign politics: "...what we're seeing in the Petraeus scandal and the Benghazi issue being prolonged is an extension of some of the conflict and the bitterness that we had during the election campaign." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Harwood predicted the whole controversy would just go away: "I'm not sure what the resolution of that is going to be. I think ultimately that energy is going to get spent and lawmakers are going to turn to the real crisis that is looming over the American economy, which is the fiscal cliff..."
In an interview with liberal historian Doris Kearns-Goodwin for NBC's Press Pass, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory invited her to draw parallels between President Obama and Abraham Lincoln: "It seems like it's so hard to put Lincoln in a modern political context...But there is a leadership lesson that you think is important now and is important for President Obama embarking on a second term, as he seeks to be what he's always wanted to be, which is not just a president, but a great president."
Kearns-Goodwin used the newly released film about Lincoln to make the point: "Absolutely. I mean I think the timing of it couldn't be better. And it's just coincidence that it really happened to be....there's this great scene, it's not just a scene, but Lincoln's actual words, 'I am clothed with immense power. You will get this vote.' So a president is clothed in immense power if they use the leadership skills to make it happen."
Appearing on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, New York Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman worked to downplay the terrorist attack in Libya: "There are diplomats that go to dangerous places, and sometimes...they get killed. It is a tragedy. To me, Libya is not a scandal, it's a tragedy."
While the murder of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was indeed a tragedy, Friedman has insisted on protecting the Obama administration from criticism over the attack. On the October 21 Meet the Press, he declared of the growing scandal: "To me, this is an utterly contrived story in the sense that 'this is the end of,' you know, 'Obama's foreign policy.'"
Last week it was Republican strategist Steve Schmidt blaming Mitt Romney's loss on conservative "loons and wackos," this week on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, fellow Republican strategist Mike Murphy joined the media chorus demanding the GOP move left: "...if we don't modernize conservatism, we can go extinct....we've got to get kind of a party view of America that's not right out of Rush Limbaugh's dream journal." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Murphy explained how to "modernize" the party: "We alienate young voters because of gay marriage, we have a policy problem. We alienate Latinos – the fastest growing voter group in the country, because of our fetish on so-called amnesty....It's a fundamental rethink that begins with policy..." Moments later, he asserted: "...the biggest problem Mitt Romney had was the Republican primary. That's what's driving the Republican brand right now to a disaster."
On Friday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie interviewed Jordan's Queen Noor and former CIA operative Valerie Plame about their effort to rid the world of all nuclear weapons: "...two women taking on a big challenge....leading an initiative called Global Zero. The goal, to eliminate nuclear weapons around the world." The headline on screen declared them to be "on a mission."
At one point, Guthrie suggested the naivety of the goal: "The counter-argument to that is, 'Wait a minute, all the bad actors in the world are racing toward more nuclear weapons. Can we really afford to do that?' Noor replied: "Well, I think if the United States and Russia, who have 90% of the world's arsenal of nuclear weapons, do continue to make the deep cuts that started during Reagan, that Obama has built up on, that President Obama now in his next term can make with the Russians, significant credible cuts in, then the rest of the nuclear states will join a process..."
At the end of an interview with Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer wondered: "I think it was 1999, you were named Time magazine's Person of the Year, alright? So I was just actually on a panel the other day where they're trying to figure out 2012's Person of the Year. Who should it be?... it could be Barack Obama, it can be – I mean, there are a lot of candidates. Who do you think it should be?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
At first, Bezos dodged the question: "You have put me on the spot. I don't know." But he then agreed with Lauer's suggestion: "In an election year, you know, Obama would be a pretty good choice."
In a series of reports following President Obama's Wednesday afternoon press conference, NBC News repeatedly portrayed Obama as a magnanimous victor "reaching out" to his opponents, while Republicans were tarred as uncooperative and on the attack.
On Wednesday's Nightly News, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd nearly ran out of positive adjectives to describe the President's demeanor at the presser: "It was a loose, confident, and at times aggressive President Obama....He even extended an olive branch and encouraged growing common ground between the two parties....he was genial and even reflective."
According to Todd's account, the only thing that spoiled Obama's sunny disposition was having to respond to "negative comments from Republican senators on the possibility that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice could become secretary of state." Comments that made the commander-in-chief "visibly angry."
Following President Obama's Wednesday afternoon press conference, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams continued his longtime obsession with the liberal fantasy film The American President and his eagerness to compare Obama to Michael Douglas's fictional presidential character: "...the President today almost conjuring the wording of Aaron Sorkin from the movie American President, as will be pointed out all day, really decided to throw down." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Referring to Obama's indignation at critics of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who made false statements about the terrorist attack in Libya, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell gushed: "This was President Andrew Shepherd really coming through in the East Room of the White House. Because this was President Obama saying, 'If you want to pick a fight with my U.N. ambassador, and blame her for something that was not her responsibility on Benghazi, then you come after me'....It was dramatic. He is angry."
In a transparent effort to yet again applaud the left-wing Occupy Wall Street movement on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams introduced the broadcast's Making a Difference segment by proclaiming: "We all remember the Occupy Wall Street movement. We covered them here a lot....Whatever you think of their agenda and them, they've re-formed now, into Occupy Sandy. They're redirecting their energy into helping hurricane victims..."
In the report that followed, correspondent Katy Tur announced: "Remember the Occupy Wall Street movement famous for taking over New York's Zuccotti Park and coining the term 1%? Well, now they have Occupy Sandy. Within days after Sandy hit, Occupy went to work."
In attempt to deflect the growing scandal surrounding former CIA director David Petreaus away from President Obama, on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd parroted administration spin on the controversy: "...they do believe they're a little insulated here, because Petraeus isn't considered an Obama guy. If anything, he's more of a Republican guy at the end of the day." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Anchor Brian Williams wondered about the timing of the scandal: "What if this had come out during the election campaign?" Todd described how relieved the Obama campaign team was that it didn't: "Well, look, it's something that the political team here at the White House is glad that they didn't have to test that hypothetical."
Eager to draw a comparison between Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln during a report for Saturday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Kevin Tibbles observed of the new film about the nation's 16th president: "No coincidence, perhaps, the film opens the week America's 21st century President won re-election in difficult times fraught with partisan bickering. Times in which many ask, what would Lincoln do?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Tibbles suggested the similarity immediately following a sound bite from director Steven Spielberg: "Lincoln advocated things we hold dear today. He advocated that government can be a positive force for the good of all people."
During an exchange on NBC's Press Pass on Sunday, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory and BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith wrung their hands over political divisiveness on social media sites like Twitter, but only managed to cite a list of Obama critics as the worst offenders.
Gregory lamented: "We talk about how polarized the country is....we see this reflected in particularly nasty ways....Donald Trump on election night tweeting....Jack Welch talking about a jobless report....Tone, tenor, and message, really polarizing on Twitter." Smith added: "We did a post on election night of people, you know, demanding Obama's assassination....We got a lot of emails from folks on that list saying, 'Hey, could you please take me off that, I certainly didn't really mean to say that in public.'"
In a report for Monday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Anne Thompson seized on Hurricane Sandy to continue pushing the argument for man-made global warming: "Now some politicians are connecting the dots, blaming the gases that come from burning coal, oil and gas for changing the climate." A clip followed of New York's Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo declaring: "Climate change, extreme weather, call it what you will. It is undeniable." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Thompson did acknowledge that "when it comes to one specific event like Sandy, most scientists are more cautious." However, the segment only featured sound bites of climate experts making dire declarations. The Weather Channel's Tom Moore fretted: "This is something we've never seen before, any of the meteorologists here, for that matter. And it's something very, very unusual."
Appearing on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, liberal historian Doris Kearns-Goodwin pleaded for the American people to excuse extramarital affairs of public figures like David Petraeus: "What would we have done if FDR had not been our leader because he had an affair with Lucy Mercer? Think of the productive years that Clinton could have had if Monica Lewinsky hadn't derailed them. We've got to figure out a way that we give a private sphere for our public leaders. We're not gonna get the best people in public life if we don't do that." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Sounding more like a Democratic strategist on Sunday's Meet the Press than NBC's political director, Chuck Todd urged President Obama to force congressional Republicans into a corner on the fiscal cliff: "...go do it with 65-70 members of the Senate, cut the deal, bring it over to the House....box Boehner in....did the President learn anything from his first term about how to deal with congressional Republicans? Which is don't do it through the leadership."
Moments later, liberal pundit and historian Doris Kearns-Goodwin described how Obama could "build his mandate": "...he has to mobilize that base. That base was energized on election nigh....It's there to bring pressure on obstructionists if they don't get a deal done from the outside in....The Tea Party pressured everybody that summer, why can't his coalition, which is bigger, pressure people from the outside in?"
During a discussion on Monday, NBC's Today show crew could barely contain their enthusiasm at the prospect of Hillary Clinton running for president again in 2016, with new third-hour co-host Willie Geist proclaiming: "Can you think of a more qualified human being? She lived in the White House for eight years with another President, she was a United States senator, and now she's got every world leader on speed dial, so there'd be no questions about her qualifications." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Early in the conversation, Geist touted how "there are already polls out in Iowa, she's got 58% of the vote for 2016" and argued her run was "inevitable." Fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie thought Clinton could definitely be persuaded: "...if the head of the party comes to her in two years, if everybody comes around and says, 'You've got to do it, you could be the first female president,' I think it would be hard for her to say no." News reader Natalie Morales added: "Are we ready for a female president? I think most of America probably is."
At the end of a Friday interview with Mark Kelly, former astronaut and husband of former Congresswoman Gabrille Giffords, Today co-host Savannah Guthrie made sure to bring up the favorite liberal talking point of the need for more gun control: "...you gave a stinging rebuke in your statement to political leaders who haven't done anything about gun control....What do you hope will change? And are you expecting President Obama to do something about gun control in a second term?"
Kelly avoided putting the President on hook: "I don't expect him to in the beginning part of his second term. But, you know...we have a Congress that can address it as well." He then argued: "...it's obviously a problem. I mean, we have gun violence that happens time and time again in this country. And I think almost everybody would agree that we have a problem....repeatedly we lost the opportunity and I hope somebody, you know, picks up that mantle and tries to do something about it." Guthrie agreed: "Well, this obviously underscores the need for the issue to be addressed in some way."