Managing to squeeze politics into the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday, NBC hosts Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira cheered a tribute to Britain's government-run National Health Service, with Lauer declaring: "Back in the states...we're locked in this kind of partisan debate over the future of health care in our own country. Here, they feel so strongly about their health care system, they're actually celebrating it as part of the Olympic opening ceremony." [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.
In a live interview with Mitt and Ann Romney on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer fretted over the "very negative" presidential race and wondered: "Are you proud of the campaign you're running so far? Is this the campaign you'd like to run?"
Romney responded: "I'm very proud of the fact that my campaign is focused on the economy. It's focused on my vision for what I do to get more jobs for America. And about the President's-" Lauer interrupted: "And what President Obama has done wrong with the economy." Lauer pressed: "Do you think your campaign has been less negative than the Obama campaign?"
Talking to special correspondent Tom Brokaw about Mitt Romney's 10-day international tour on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie suggested the effort was a mistake: "Is it a smart idea, an opportunity to look presidential? Or is it a week lost when he could be driving that message on the economy?"
Brokaw's first reaction was to gush over Barack Obama's 2008 trip abroad: "I actually interviewed President Obama, then-Senator, here in London after a very successful trip. Times were different. There was no Arab Spring at that time, Europe was not yet in an economic meltdown, this was a fresh face after eight years of George W. Bush, who was not popular." Brokaw then added: "But it's mandatory for a presidential candidate to make these kind of tours."
Wrapping up an interview with Mitt Romney in London on Wednesday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams asked about a potential vice presidential pick in the most obnoxious way possible: "So here's a Republican official familiar with your campaign selection process, told the folks at Politico you are looking for a, quote, 'incredibly boring white guy' for your vice presidential nominee. Can you confirm or deny?" Romney quipped back: "You told me you were not available." Williams replied: "Touche, Governor." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In an interview with Mitt Romney in London on Wednesday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams grilled the Republican candidate about releasing more tax returns: "People hear he's not going to release the rest of his returns and they wonder why. They wonder, is there a year there where he paid no taxes? They wonder about expensive horses and houses....what is it that is preventing you from releasing the rest of your returns?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In another question designed to portray Romney as secretive, Williams quoted New York Times columnist David Brooks exclaiming: "[Romney] has an amazing personal story....He can't talk about it because it involves Mormonism. He is personally a decent guy. For some reason he's not willing to talk about it. He's a hidden man." Williams fretted: "Are you a hidden man?"
While discussing gun control on Wednesday's The Daily Rundown on MSNBC, correspondent Mike Viqueira lamented: "...the anti-gun control, pro-gun rights crowd has won the argument at this point....they've succeeded in framing the issue as one of essential American national values." In response, host and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd ranted: "...nobody has sort of a rational policy debate about it." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Todd began the segment by whining over the lack of gun regulation:
Debuting the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, political director Chuck Todd concluded that campaign "hits seem to be taking a greater toll on Romney" and proclaimed: "Call it a likeability gap. 46% of voters told us they didn't like Romney personally. That compares to just 31% who said the same about the President." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
However, on Wednesday's Morning Joe on MSNBC, Todd admitted the poll was skewed: "...our sample was a little Democratic heavy." Hot Air examined the partisan breakdown of poll respondents and discovered just how "Democratic heavy" the survey was, with Democrats having a 12-point advantage over Republicans.
Minutes after Mitt Romney addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Tuesday, NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell appeared on MSNBC to downplay the GOP candidate's positive reception: "...this is a conservative group....This is a very conservative foreign policy group and there's no question that they would be predisposed, I think, more towards being in the Republican camp than the Democratic camp."
On her 1 p.m. et hour show on MSNBC on Tuesday, host and NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell decried Mitt Romney labeling President Obama's big-government philosophy "foreign" to American capitalism: "...he is still using the term 'foreign' and I'm telling you, this is happening every day, it is a dog whistle." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd attempted to talk Mitchell down: "...to take him [Romney] at face value – it's about trying to paint the President as out of touch, that he doesn't have the experience....out of touch about the American economy, that he doesn't understand how capitalism works." Mitchell refused to accept that explanation: "Out of touch is out of touch....Foreign is suggesting somebody who grew up in Indonesia....I'm telling you....words matter."
In an article for NBCNews.com's First Read on Monday, Domenico Montanaro eagerly proclaimed to readers: "Mitt Romney has criticized President Obama for his 'you didn't build that' line, when it came to businesses....But in 2002, during his speech at the Opening Ceremonies at the Winter Olympics....Romney made a similar argument about Olympians."
Romney simply told the Olympic athletes – many in their teens and twenties – that they achieved their individual success with help of parents, coaches, and their local communities. However, by Monday night, The Washington Post's Ezra Klein, filling in for MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, wildly misconstrued the comment to slam Romney: "Got that, Olympians? You didn't build it....It's like David Axelrod went back in time and put the precise words he needed into Mitt Romney's mouth."
Appearing on Monday's Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC, Time magazine editor-at-large Mark Halperin confessed a broad media consensus to curtail gun rights: "If you walk the halls of most major news organizations or of the OEOB at the White House or West Wing, I think you'd find overwhelming sentiment that there should be stricter gun control laws in the United States." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Seizing on the Colorado theater shooting to push for stricter gun laws, on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie teased an upcoming story: "...an undercover report that reveals just how easy it can be for anyone, even violent criminals, to buy assault weapons, no questions asked." Later introducing the segment, she fretted: "...it turns out Colorado has some of the weakest gun laws in the country." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen began his hidden camera expose of online gun selling by admitting that it had little to do with the circumstances surrounding the Colorado tragedy: "It turns out this shooter, this alleged shooter in Colorado, had no rap sheet, so he was able to buy his guns in a store legally." Rossen quickly added: "But even if he had a violent criminal record he still could have bought them."
In an interview with Mitt Romney's five sons aired on Thursday's NBC Rock Center, campaign correspondent Peter Alexander took a jab at the family's wealth: "Their life of privilege, plus a reported $100 million trust fund, continues to draw harsh scrutiny....The criticism is that a family like yours, the Romneys, can't really understand what the average American family is dealing with right now....are you out of touch?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Earlier in the segment, Alexander explained the role of the sons: "For a candidate who at times has struggled to connect, the campaign hopes the sons can also help explain some of their father's more idiosyncratic moments." In a preview of the interview on Thursday's Today, Alexander proclaimed: "For a candidate who's been called aloof, even awkward, the Romney boys help highlight their father's human side."
Seizing on a handful of Republican members of Congress questioning Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin's supposed tenuous family connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, on Thursday's NBC Today, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell used the incident to fawn over Clinton's "second daughter": "Abedin is Hillary Clinton's dear friend, closest senior aide...Elegant, glamorous, profiled in Vogue."
O'Donnell labeled the charges against Abedin – outlined in a congressional letter sent by Michele Bachmann and five other Republican House members to the State Department – as "what some are calling a sinister attack on the patriotism" of the top Clinton aide. She then hyped Republican Senator John McCain denouncing the obscure letter to what a front-page Washington Post story admitted was an "otherwise empty Senate chamber."
Appearing on Wednesday's Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza warned Mitt Romney that he would suffer "a death by a thousand political cuts" if he does not release more tax returns. Cillizza further proclaimed: "...every day we talk about tax returns. Why hasn't he released them? What's in them?...the current position he has is untenable politically."
Continuing to push for Romney to release more, Cillizza predicted: "...what we don't know is how much tax he did pay. And until he releases more...the Obama team, at least, is not going to let this go away." He then concluded: "...all this stuff gets them [Republicans] away from talking about what they want to talk about, which is why I think he [Romney] needs to lance the boil, politically, sooner rather than later."
Despite Mitt Romney clearly going on the offensive by seizing on President Obama's gaffe that business owners "didn't build" their businesses, on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Peter Alexander dismissed it as a futile effort: "...the Romney campaign right back where it started the day...on the defensive."
Early in the report, Alexander did his best to downplay Obama's comment that: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that, somebody else made that happen." Alexander spun that Obama made the remark,"While outlining his vision of American progress as a partnership between business and government last Friday."
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today, advertising executive Donny Deutsch predicted a political comeback for disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner: "...he's a good politician, I think he will get a second chance." The network's chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman gushed: "He's cuckoo smart, he's a great representative, and no one understands health care and I think the problems better than he." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In an interview with singer Elton John on Tuesday's NBC Today that focused on the performer's AIDS awareness activism, co-host Matt Lauer teed him up to rate recent presidents on combating the disease: "Elton champions those he feels made a positive impact on the AIDS epidemic, but he also takes to task those he believes caused harm. And he doesn't hold back." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer declared: "Let's play a little game of political word association. Give me the brief answer to each of the names that I'm going to throw out, just your first reaction. Ronald Reagan." John sniffed: "Overrated." Lauer continued: "Bill Clinton." John gushed: "Fantastic. Made some big mistakes but, God, he's a fantastic man."
Offering some pro-Obama fluff on Tuesday's NBC Today, news reader Natalie Morales gushed over the President and First Lady getting caught on the "Kiss Cam" at a basketball game during a "date night." After the First Couple initially just waved to the camera, Morales excitedly told viewers: "Not to worry, they got a second chance when the 'Kiss Cam' found them again. So this time he delivered, planting a very presidential pucker on the First Lady and the crowd went wild."
In an otherwise tough interview with Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter on Tuesday's NBC Today about the negative tone of the President's re-election bid, co-host Matt Lauer failed to challenge her on the nastiest attack hurled by Democrats so far, Cutter's own charge that Mitt Romney may have committed a felony.
Lauer repeatedly grilled Cutter on President Obama abandoning the rhetoric of hope and change from the 2008 campaign: "If you think about what your candidate is out there on the campaign trail saying and compare it to what he was saying as a candidate four years ago....are you proud of the message he's out there delivering?...would you say the President has run an exceedingly positive or exceedingly negative campaign?" However, the obvious question about Cutter leading that "exceedingly negative campaign" never came.