On this morning's Today show, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell opened her report of the President's tour of Latin America with protest coverage, showing footage of a sign of Bush with a Hitler mustache, a man chanting "Gringo go home," and even noted local priests' desire to "purify" a Mayan site, Bush planned to visit, of "bad spirits." Over video of protestors O'Donnell emphasized: "The President is followed by Iraq and how bitterly unpopular the war is here. Protests in each country he visits."
The following is the full report as it aired on the March 12th Today show:
Ann Curry: "In the news this morning President Bush is in Guatemala today on his five nation Latin American tour. His visit has been greeted with protest against his war policy and now the President is making a case for sending another 8200 troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. NBC's White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell is traveling with the President. Kelly, good morning."
Fresh off of testifying in the case against Dick Cheney's aide Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, NBC's Tim Russert, along with Andrea Mitchell, attacked the Vice President himself as they and Today host Meredith Vieira blamed Cheney for getting everything "wrong," pushed for his resignation and even compared him to "Darth Vader." On this morning's Today, Mitchell first pulled out the knife-
Mitchell: "Good morning, Ann. The White House says that the Vice President remains the President's most trusted counsel but many are now asking how badly has the conviction of his closest aide hurt Dick Cheney? He is the most powerful Vice President in history but is he beginning to lose his clout? Critics caractiture Dick Cheney as the Darth Vader of the Bush White House. They say wrong on everything from the treatment of prisoners to Saddam Hussein's weapons."
With the Democrats now in charge of Congress the media is joining them in bringing back some favorite of their favorite boogeymen and on this morning's Today show that boogeyman took the form of the credit card companies and their "abusive" practices. Teasing a Lisa Myers report NBC's Ann Curry charged that credit card companies are "...accused of making it difficult for the average person to pay off that bill. We're gonna show you some of the tactics they allegedly use to keep the dollars flowing in." To which Today host Meredith Vieira piped in: "It's pretty awful."
Throughout the segment the credit card companies were portrayed in almost loan shark terms that had them taking "advantage" of unwitting customers. In her report NBC's Lisa Myers told the story of mild-mannered Charlie Bassham's struggle against the credit card companies and then brought on Democratic Senator Carl Levin as the proverbial hero to the all the Charlie Bassham's across America.
On this morning's Today show, NBC correspondent Dawn Fratangelo visited country music singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter at her home in Virginia to promote her latest album that Today host Meredith Vieira declared was her "most personal and political so far." Fratangelo even let Carpenter serenade her with one of its tracks that Fratangelo described as: "A song of solidarity with the Dixie Chicks." As Chapin strummed along on the guitar Today viewers were treated to the following anti-Bush lyrics: "This isn't for the ones who blindly follow...this isn't for the man who can't count the bodies and comfort the families and can't say what he's wrong."
During live coverage of the Lewis Libby verdict on MSNBC, Newsweek's Howard Fineman greenlit this potential line of attack for the Democrats: "If you're the Democrats you go up immediately with ads. You talk about lying. You use the word, 'lying' with reference to this administration and you can do it because there is a conviction in a court of law." Fineman also tied the mistreatment of wounded veterans at Walter Reed Hospital to the Libby verdict as he claimed: "The war in Iraq has now been bracketed on both sides politically. The Walter Reed story is about the human consequences of the war, the Scooter Libby trial was about how we got into the war and whether somebody was lying..."
It didn't take long for Chris Matthews to launch into his rant against Dick Cheney after news of the Lewis Libby verdict broke. Just 11 minutes into MSNBC's live coverage of the Libby decision the Cheney-obsessed Matthews to jumped into his anti-Iraq war routine as he repeated Patrick Fitzgerald's charge there the is now "a cloud" around the Vice President. Matthews also asserted Cheney was "now in the cross-hairs of national debate," and charged "This isn't like a hunting accident where he can walk away for two days and let someone else answer the questions. He's gonna have to answer the questions. Let's see if he puts out a statement. If it's anything more than remorse, well let's hope that it's something more than remorse because there's a lot of questions here."
Explaining how Hillary Clinton isn't as popular with African-American voters as Bill was, MSNBC's Chris Matthews pointed to the former president's verbal skills as one of the reasons why when he proclaimed: "There are times when he sounds like Jesus in the temple." Matthews made that observation during a discussion with the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson where both cited Bill Clinton's performance at Coretta Scott King's funeral as a prime example of Slick Willie's oratory abilities. The following exchange took place about 30 minutes into last night's Hardball:
Eugene Robinson: "I mean, it's the one memorable speech from, from that funeral."
On this morning's Today show, NBC correspondent Jill Rappaport filed a post-Oscars report that included still more fawning over Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Rappaport cornered the former Vice President after the ceremony to ask him about his "eye-opening" documentary. The following encounter was aired on the February 26th Today show.
Jill Rappaport to Gore: "And as expected Best Documentary honors went to An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's eye-opening campaign to warn the world about global warming. The fact that for over three decades you have been trying to get the message out there and now the world is listening."
Brought to you by the same people who couldn't get enough of Ron Howard's Christian-bashing The Da Vinci Code, comes another promotional effort of yet another Hollywood director's take on Jesus Christ conspiracy theories. At the top of the show NBC Today host Matt Lauer greeted viewers with the following tease about James Cameron's new documentary: "A shocking new claim that an ancient burial place may have housed the bones of Christ and a son. This morning a Today exclusive that could rock Christianity to its core."
Today co-host Meredith Vieira conducted the interview and promoted the discovery this way: "There are so few 'wow' stories out there, this is one of them." While Today did air some contradictory statements for the most part the entire segment ran as a full blown infomercial for Cameron's documentary. The following are all the teases and then the full segment as it aired on the 7:30am half-hour of the February 26th Today show:
On last night's Hardball, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams unintentionally slammed Chris Matthews on his own show. Discussing Walter Cronkite's famous declaration of U.S defeat in Vietnam, Williams claimed it was a watershed moment because the former CBS anchor had earned the "credibility" of his viewers but warned today's anchors can't have the same effect because: "People do Cronkite-esque statements on topics every day now. On, on cable, you can see one an hour." Williams was probably referencing Matthews' competitors but as any regular viewer of Hardball knows the charge is easily applied to his NBC colleague as Matthews is constantly making his own "Cronkite-esqe" declarations of U.S. defeat in Iraq.
Hey NBC your double-standards are showing! On last night's Hardball, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was in awe of the Clinton spin machine as he called them "pros" and "good leakers" but MSNBC correspondent David Shuster labeled Dick Cheney's behavior in the Scooter Libby leak case as "ruthless," and "obsessed."
First up Hardball host, Chris Matthews, asked Williams for his take on Hillary Clinton's rapid defense in her David Geffen-fueled spat with Barack Obama. Williams, seemed to admire the Clinton machine's prowess in both past and current crises, as he admitted: "They were pros politically. They were good leakers. They were good attackers, and they were good defenders.Hillary Rodham Clinton has some pros working for her.We've had some experience with them, all of us in this business have."
So if campaign staffers for a prominent presidential candidate make hateful and bigoted remarks about Christians that's big news right? Not according to NBC's Meredith Vieira. The Today show co-anchor failed to question John Edwards about his former bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan calling Christianity a "mythology" and depicting Bush supporters as his "wingnut Christofascist base." Instead Vieira focused her questions from the left on Iraq, as first noted here, and his opinion of the dust-up between rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The following are all of Vieira's questions to John Edwards on the February 22, Today show:
Interviewing Barack Obama's senior strategist, David Axelrod, Chris Matthews made a pitch to get Obama on his Hardball College Tour. On last night's edition of the show, Matthews made this syrupy plea to Axelrod: "I think it's a great, it's a great platform for a guy who, clearly, according to my kids, and maybe me too, the kid in me, appeals to the youth of America and the young at heart."
The following is the full exchange as it occurred on the February 19th edition of MSNBC’s Hardball.
Matthews: "Let me ask you, David Axelrod, let me just try to make a proposition to you. On behalf of our producers here and everybody that works at MSNBC, we would like a lot to have your candidate, Barack Obama, to sit, the junior senator from Illinois be our guest, our special guest on a town meeting with college students at some college, perhaps, of his choice. Certainly a good college. And we'd love him in the round with the students for an hour, like we did with John McCain and we've done with other candidates, including Hillary Clinton in the past, and, and Rudy Giuliani and the others. We've tried to get everybody. We would really like to get Barack Obama. You don't have to answer today."
Wishfully thinking Hillary Clinton may have an easier than expected path to the White House, this morning's Today show asked are: "Conservatives Softening On Hillary?" Clearly lifting generously from David Kirkpatrick’s New York Times story, NBC's David Gregory examined the theory that "Clinton-haters are mellowing." Leading off the piece Gregory portrayed those who opposed the Clintons during the '90s in the kookiest light possible as he cast them as mere, "attention-seekers" and then ran a clip of the infamous Clinton Chronicles video. After the clip, Gregory ran a soundbite from a clearly bored with the topic- Christopher Ruddy, as he asserted that among conservatives: "There's a view now that Bill Clinton was not only not so bad, he was pretty good," and that they "don't have the same level of anger towards her that they once had towards him."
You would think an anchor for a network morning news show would relish the opportunity to tag Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton with hard-hitting questions but that wasn't the case for NBC's Meredith Vieira. On CNBC's Conversations with Michael Eisner, Vieira revealed that before her interview with the former First Lady she was "nervous." The Today co-host said "everybody" warned her she was a "tough" interview, so when Vieira first met Clinton backstage she felt the need to disarm the presidential contender with the following "tough" question: "My son probably will go to Georgetown are you prepared to take care of him when he's down there?"
A look back at the December 18th interview shows Vieira asked mostly softball questions like: "Why wouldn't you run for President? I mean, the polls indicate that if you did run, you're the front runner." However Vieira did manage to overcome her nervousness when it came to challenging Hillary from the left on her Iraq war vote: "You refuse to say it was a mistake. Why?"
It's one thing to call the war in Iraq tough and a struggle but it's quite another to say our brave fighting men and women in the region are facing "humiliation," and "annihilation," yet those were the words MSNBC's Chris Matthews used on last night's Hardball as he opposed the surge policy. During a discussion with the National Review's Kate O'Beirne and Democratic strategist Steve McMahon, Matthews once again threw his hands up in defeat as he depressingly declared the following on the February 15th edition of his show:
Chris Matthews: "I will repeat what I've said 100 times and will say 100, a 100 times more. The worst thing this president did in terms of U.S. policy was put our country, which we are in now, a situation where there are no good alternatives. That is not good leadership, to lead you into a blind canyon when all you can do is face complete humiliation over there, or continued annihilation over there and horror over there or this weird sort of redeployment stuff. I don't know what the great alternative is now. That's the failure of this policy, we done have any alternatives now."
On last night's Hardball Chris Matthews, interviewing Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, was peeved that Democrats weren't pushing hard enough to have a vote on the surge. Citing polls in opposition to the surge a flustered Matthews worried Democrats were going to roll over for the President and demanded Hoyer not let the President ignore Democrats like he ignored Katrina. In the first segment of the February 14th, Hardball Matthews declared to Hoyer: "He is gonna treat you, the first branch of the Constitution, as if you're Katrina, not to be paid attention to."
The following is the full question from Matthews:
Chris Matthews: "Well, we have a new poll that shows that seven, seven out of 10 Americans are watching Congress to see how they vote on this and they say that they vote and they say that if they vote the wrong way, they're going to remember that come election time. You know, Mr. Leader, you and I were grew up in a country where presidents were very attune to Congress and respectful of it, especially those who came out of Congress like Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy and even Richard Nixon. They watched the Congress, they paid attention to it and they cared about its legislative duties. This President, and I know you respect him as we do, as President, but he came out and said the other day that he's not even gonna bother watching the floor debate. He doesn't even want to hear about it. He's got other things to do. He is gonna treat you, the first branch of the Constitution, as if you're Katrina, not to be paid attention to. Does that bother you constitutionally that the President doesn't think that this major debate on war is something he's not even gonna bother to watch on television?"
NBC's Matt Lauer opened this morning's Today show with news of the Dixie Chicks' big win at last night's Grammy Awards and used the moment to take a dig at the President's expense. After Lauer teased segments on snow in the Midwest and a skydiver who survived a fall, Lauer took his shot via the big news that an outspoken liberal musical group was awarded a prize from their liberal peers in the music industry:
Lauer: "And Chicks rule! They were shunned after criticizing the President but after a big night at the Grammys the Dixie Chicks are getting the last laugh today, Monday, February 12th, 2007."
Later in the show, in the 9am hour, Natalie Morales declared it was "a big evening for some ladies who've endured some tough times," and West Coast contributor Maria Menenous scored a backstage interview with the Chicks along with Rolling Stone's Joe Levy who asked if the win was a "vindication."
On this morning's Today show, viewers were coyly teased of an Ann Coulter versus Michael Eric Dyson debate on race in the 9:30am half-hour. NBC's Natalie Morales tantalized viewers of the upcoming fight with sure to be expected fireworks: "Michael Eric Dyson and conservative commentator Ann Coulter are gonna square off right here. Should be a very good debate." However viewers and perhaps even Today's producers, had to be disappointed as Dyson and Coulter were surprisingly chummy. Morales even remarked: "You're being very civil this morning."
Not surprisingly, Morales did engage in the old habit of one-sided labeling, as she called Coulter a "conservative commentator," but refused to note Dyson's liberal leanings, as he was referred to as merely a "civil rights activist." Morales also called the liberal Dyson's book, Debating Race, "fascinating" and "great," but didn't apply the same superlative adjectives to the conservative Coulter's book, Godless.
Tom Friedman is at it again. Whenever a reporter asks him how to fix the Middle East, Friedman's response is increasingly the same - increase taxes! On this morning's Today show NBC's Meredith Vieira brought on the New York Times columnist to discuss the Iraq debate on Capitol Hill. Setting up Friedman with his own premise, Viera asked: "Well you've said, 'We need to reshape the game board.' What do you mean by that?" Friedman then gave a long-winded response that eventually revealed his solution: "Oil tax." Below is the conversation as it occurred in the 7am half hour of the February 6 Today show:
Meredith Vieira: "Well you've said, 'We need to reshape the game board. What do you mean by that?'"
On Tuesday night's Hardball, Howard Fineman saw Hillary's joke about "bad and evil men" as a "brilliant" way to "gently" push Bill Clinton aside. MSNBC's Chris Matthews brought on Newsweek's Fineman and The Hotline's Chuck Todd to analyze whether or not Hillary Clinton was, indeed, referring to the former President and if so, if that was some sort of strategy on her part. Fineman postulated it was Hillary's way of telling the nation if she's moved on than so should the country. To which Matthews exclaimed: "You should be her flack, because that is the message she should have come out with."
The following discussion occurred on the January 30th edition of Hardball.
Chris Matthews: "Let me ask you this. Hillary's joke, who was the butt of the joke? She tells this big joke, 'I'm used to dealing with bad and evil men. I can take on Osama bin Laden.' And she's doing it kind of a girl talk kind of, I wish it wasn't all guys here. What was she doing? What was that about?"
NBC's Meredith Vieira played the role of disappointed Democrat on this morning's Today as she repeatedly asked Ralph Nader if he's worried he'll be remembered in history as Al Gore's "spoiler." On to promote his book The Seventeen Traditions, Nader deflected Vieira with his usual spiel about the need for more "progressive" voices in the process, even going as far to push for a Bill Moyers campaign. The following are all of Vieira's questions to the former Green Party candidate on the January 30th, Today.
Meredith Vieira: "Consumer rights activist, humanitarian, election spoiler. Ralph Nader has been called a lot of things during his remarkable career but now he's out with a new book called The Seventeen Traditions, about lessons that he learned during his childhood. He's also the subject of a new documentary called An Unreasonable Man, a profile which examines the charge that his presidential campaign cost Al Gore the election in 2000."
Yesterday NBC's Today show pondered if Hillary Clinton was referring to Bill as one of the 'evil men' she had much experience with but never got around to fully answering the question. Well NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, on this morning's Today, attempted to answer the question and found, via a Clinton surrogate, the 'evil men' Hillary was talking about were Ken Starr, Newt Gingrich and George W. Bush. During the piece Mitchell ran a soundbite from Lisa Caputo claiming: "CertainlyKen Starr and Newt Gingrich would be at the top of that list as would be this White House." Having addressed that question Mitchell moved on to analyzing the Clinton's "complicated marriage" and how the former President "overshadowed his senator wife," but concluded that Bill’s presence was mostly positive as she regurgitated this old Clinton-line: "So as they used to say back in 1992, 'Buy one, get one free.'"
It's been the topic du jour on radio talk shows and blogs: Who was Hillary referring to when she asked: "And what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?" Some have speculated Ken Starr, others, including this morning’s Today show hint the target was a little closer to home. Matt Lauer greeted Today’s viewers with the following opening: "Campaign swing, her first trip to Iowa since announcing she's running for President, Hillary Clinton raises eyebrows when asked about dealing with men like Osama Bin Laden."
Hillary Clinton: "And what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men?"
It's probably one of the most awkward things to do for any broadcaster, making that transition from a hard news story about war or a tragic plane crash into a lighter feature story about, say, the latest Hollywood gossip about Bradgelina. It's commonplace on the morning shows for a Meredith Vieira or Diane Sawyer to make that hard turn from a story on Iraq to a piece on the hottest fashion trends, the commonly heard phrase is: "On a lighter note." Well it seems David Gregory, substitute hosting for Matt Lauer on this morning's Today show, hasn't quite mastered that segue. After a Robert Bazell piece about military combat hospitals in Iraq that featured images of wounded soldiers in surgery it was up to Gregory to make that transition, except the story he was throwing to wasn't exactly an upbeat one.
Tom Brokaw popped up on this morning's Today show to analyze the President's State of the Union address and join Meredith Vieira in casting doubt on Bush's ability to sell his Iraq policy. After Vieira asked how Bush's low approval ratings affected his ability to promote the new surge in troops to Iraq, Brokaw responded: "The question is, now, seven years into his presidency and more than three-and-a-half years into this war does he have any credibility left when he says, 'This is how it will work,' because so much of what he has said about Iraq has not worked the way that he described it."
Then a little later Vieira set up Brokaw on how people outside of the U.S. viewed the policy: "What about with the rest of the world? Where do you think they stand in terms of this troop surge?" To which Brokaw opined: "I think the rest of the world is standing back and saying, 'You got yourself into it, you find a way out of it.'And that's a dilemma. I know that members of the Iraq Study Group are not happy that the President has not embraced any of their diplomatic suggestions that he made, that they made about talking to Iran and talking to Syria again about rebuilding the alliances. This is a White House that it's, in its own bunker at the moment."
You'd think NBC News would want its viewers to tune into their coverage of tonight's State of the Union address but after listening to this morning's Today show a viewer would be hard pressed to want to tune in as Meredith Vieira and David Gregory asked repeatedly if anyone still cared what Bush had to say. Today's anchors asked that question on three separate occasions within just the first half-hour.
First Vieira, at the top of the show pondered: "The question tonight will anybody be listening to the President anymore when he speaks?" A few minutes later David Gregory, substitute hosting for Matt Lauer, asked Tony Snow: "Tony has the country stopped listening to the President?" Then in her interview with Hillary Clinton Vieira's first question continued Today's theme: "You just heard Tony Snow that he does not believe that the public has stopped listening to the President, do you agree with that?"
All throughout last night's Hardball, MSNBC's Chris Matthews kept pressing the line the administration was headed for war with Iran, so much so, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow felt the need to calm down Matthews. When an agitated Matthews demanded: "Tony, will the President ask Congress' approval before any attack on Iran?,' Snow countered, "You're getting way ahead of yourself, Chris. Nobody here is talking about attacks on Iran." Snow even attempted to tone down the admitted film buff's active imagination as he warned the excitable Hardball host: "Well, you've been watching too many old movies featuring your old friend Slim Pickens is what you're doing now, come on."
This morning's Today show opened with Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer amazed at the warm temperatures in New York City and of course it didn't take long before the specter of global warming was raised. Lauer ominously opened the show: "Meanwhile a record warm weekend in the East has people wondering what's going on?" Vieira went even further as she bluntly blurted: "So I'm running in the park on Saturday, in shorts thinking this is great but are we all gonna die? You know? I can't, I can't figure this out."
But when it came to an actual scientific-based opinion WNBC weatherman Chris Cimino, filling in for Al Roker, didn't exactly jump to blame global warming...at first. Initially Cimino was non-committal about blaming global warming, instead focusing on El Nino but lest he risk the wrath of his Today show anchors he did cover his liberal bases as he asserted: "Of course the bottom line is you don't throw a lot of greenhouse gases into the air no matter what whether it affects the weather or not."
NBC's Matt Lauer celebrated 10 years at Today this morning and to be sure his run as co-anchor is chock full of biased interviews and liberal slants on a range of issues from the environment to the war on terror but a review of Lauer's record indicates one issue stands out as a particular obsession of Lauer's - guns. Whenever the issue of gun control was hot in the news Lauer could be counted on to push his guests for the harshest restrictions on the Constitutional right to bear arms. On September 5, 2002 Lauer asked then NRA President Charlton Heston: "Have you ever gotten up one morning, read the newspaper or seen the news about a particularly horrific crime or event that involved a shooting and thought even for a second, I may be on the wrong side of this issue?" And when asked by an interviewer in 2000 if he could ask Bill Clinton just two questions, Lauer eschewed impeachment, declaring: "It wouldn't be about [Monica Lewinsky]. I'd ask, 'What are you going to do about guns? Why not make this issue one of your legacies?''