Williams to Boehner: ‘Where Are You Getting the Notion’ Americans Want ObamaCare Repealed?; Blames Him for Birther Outburst

In an “exclusive” interview with new House Speaker John Boehner for Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams told Boehner the promised vote to repeal ObamaCare has “been called a stunt,” pressed him to justify repealing it given many would not call it “the best health care delivery system in the world because they, by the millions, weren't getting it” and demanded to know “where are you getting the notion...the American people want it repealed” given polling was “very evenly split on that?”

Then he held Boehner responsible for a “birther” woman in the gallery who shouted out “except Obama” as a Congressman on the floor was reading aloud the part of the Constitution requiring the President to be a “natural born citizen”:

I'm curious as to how much responsibility you feel -- specifically, because of something that happened this morning. During the reading of the Constitution, Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey was reading a portion of the document interrupted by someone who heckled from within the chamber. It was to express doubt over the President's American citizenship.

On ObamaCare, after Boehner promised better relations between the parties, Williams argued:

Ant yet, respectfully the first thing you're doing, after the reading of the Constitution, is bringing so-called Obamacare, the Obama health plan, up for a vote. It's been called a stunt because it can pass the Republican House, but it's certain to fail -- if not in the Democratic Senate, but it won't survive a veto. Why spend the valuable time of your beloved House of Representatives that way?

Williams soon contended:

What do you say to those who would disagree that it was the best health care delivery system in the world because they, by the millions, weren't getting it? And, second, where are you getting the notion -- as you said again this morning -- the American people want it repealed? Our exit polling was about 48-47, very evenly split on that.

In a check on PollingReport.com I found:

- Mid-December CNN poll: 43 in favor versus 54 percent opposed to ObamaCare.

- Kaiser Family Foundation’s Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, in December: 41 expand or leave as is, 51 repeal all or parts of it.

- September CBS News poll: 37 approve versus 49 disapprove.

- August USA Today/Gallup survey: 39 approve, 56 disapprove

[UPDATE: A Gallup poll, reported in the Friday, January 7 USA Today (“U.S. split on repeal of health care law”), found that “split” leans decidedly in favor of repealing ObamaCare: “Forty-six percent of those surveyed Tuesday and Wednesday say they want their representative to vote for repeal; 40% want the law to stand.”]

Flashbacks from November of 2006 MRC CyberAlerts:

> Nets Champion Pelosi for 'Making History' as First Female Speaker

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sat for interviews Wednesday with reporters for all the networks. NBC's Brian Williams and CBS's Katie Couric put the most emphasis on her presumed "history-making" ascension to House Speaker and allowed her to offer the most-benign descriptions of the policies she will pursue.

"Our conversation with Nancy Pelosi, a woman on the verge of making American history," Williams trumpeted in teasing the NBC Nightly News. Over video of President Bush, with Vice President Cheney and House Speaker Hastert behind him at a State of the Union address, Williams relayed how Pelosi "says she is most excited to change this picture, to put a female face in this frame of three male faces for the very first time." Williams sycophantically gushed to her: "Let's talk about history because I know history was riding along with you as you watched the results last night. I know you have thought today about your mother. I know you have thought today about your father, your own children and grandchildren."...

> NBC Puffed Pelosi, But In '94 Tom Brokaw Assailed Newt Gingrich

NBC anchor Brian Williams didn't exactly strike a tone of toughness with new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she was elected, last week asking her softball questions on NBC Nightly News about what "drain the swamp" meant and how "history was riding along with her." In the week since none of the networks have aired any piece critical of Pelosi's personal life, professional conduct or connections.

But twelve years ago on November 15, 1994, one week after Newt Gingrich's big win, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw hammered Gingrich in a snide and negative ten-minute Dateline NBC hit piece. Brokaw pushed every negative button. Gingrich had a "long streak" of "casually reckless" remarks. He admitted "he smoked pot" and "got a marriage deferment" to avoid service in Vietnam. He went to first wife Jackie's hospital room "the day after her cancer surgery" to discuss divorce terms. He made a "very ominous" charge that FDA chief David Kessler threatened to ruin businesses. And his "well-heeled admirers," called "Newt Incorporated," showed he was already ethically compromised, since voters would think donors "were trying to buy his heart if not his vote, at the least."...

The questions posed by Brian Williams to House Speaker John Boehner, as aired in the interview excerpts aired on the Thursday, January 6 NBC Nightly News (transcript provided by the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth):

 


– What one thing are you willing to go down in flames on? What one issue is so important to you that, if you knew in advance, you would make the deal, you'd be a short-term, two-year Speaker of the House?

– Your speech yesterday seemed personal. I noted a lot of conciliatory language in it. But there was that expression, “scar tissue.” You said there's been a lot of “scar tissue” buildup. Elaborate. What did you mean?

– And yet, respectfully, the first thing you're doing, after the reading of the Constitution, is bringing so-called Obamacare, the Obama health plan, up for a vote. It's been called a stunt because it can pass the Republican House, but it's certain to fail -- if not in the Democratic Senate, but it won't survive a veto. Why spend the valuable time of your beloved House of Representatives that way?

– Two points: What do you say to those who would disagree that it was the best health care delivery system in the world because they, by the millions, weren't getting it? And, second, where are you getting the notion -- as you said again this morning -- the American people want it repealed? Our exit polling was about 48-47, very evenly split on that.

– I'm curious as to how much responsibility you feel -- specifically, because of something that happened this morning. During the reading of the Constitution, Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey was reading a portion of the document interrupted by someone who heckled from within the chamber. It was to express doubt over the President's American citizenship. Provided you believe the President is an American citizen, you got 12 members co-sponsoring legislation that does about the same thing. It expresses doubt. Would you be willing to say this is a distraction, I've looked at it to my satisfaction, let's move on?

– Would you be willing to say that message to the 12 members in your caucus who seem to either believe otherwise or are willing to express doubt and have co-sponsored legislation along those lines?

– Do you consider the Defense budget sacred? Do you consider the Homeland Security budget sacred? What goes? Name a program right now that we could do without.

– Do you think we belong in Afghanistan, still, to this day?

Williams ended Nightly News with another Boehner segment, asking him about being “an emotional guy” what he does “for strength” and efforts to quit smoking.

— Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center