After Hitting GOP Candidates from Left, NBC’s Williams Presses Obama from Left

A few days after he hit Republicans from the left when he moderated a presidential candidates debate on MSNBC, NBC’s Brian Williams pressed President Barack Obama with the concerns of Obama supporters to the President’s left (“Members of your base are asking: ‘When are you going to get your Harry Truman on?’” and “What do you say to those Americans who voted for that man on the poster that said ‘Hope’?”).

In between, he empathized with how Obama had to deal with an irrational House Republican caucus, ie the Tea Party members. (Video after the jump)

Incredibly, in the interview aired on Monday's NBC Nightly News, but conducted on Saturday just two days after Obama’s big raise taxes/spend more speech, Williams never challenged Obama on it beyond cuing him up: “Did you come to a decision that what the country needs is in large part a good old public works bill?”

Obama responded by touting how “the plan that I put forward -- the American Jobs Act -- puts construction workers back to work, puts teachers back to work, puts our veterans who are coming home looking for a job back to work, the long-term unemployed back to work. It provides tax breaks for small businesses when they hire new employees. So this package, it's estimated, would help the economy grow by as much as an additional two percent. That could mean an additional two million jobs.”


Audio: MP3 clip which matches four questions in the video above.

Instead of challenging that claim or pointing out how even Democrats had rejected the proposed tax hikes when they controlled the House and Senate, or even noting Obama’s disconnect with an electorate obviously opposed to more spending, Williams painted Obama as a victim of irrational conservatives:

All of this, of course, is if you get what you want in a highly toxic atmosphere and it sure looked to me from the outside like you went into the debt ceiling fight thinking, surely they will do the statesman-like thing, surely they won't go there. And it seemed to me as if Speaker Boehner was coming to you saying, look, if it were up to me, we would do this, but I've got this membership problem. And they went there and now that marks our politics.

Earlier, by Kyle Drennen, re Monday’s Today show: “Brian Williams Wonders When Obama Will 'Channel His Inner Harry Truman'”

From last Wednesday night, with video: “NBC Debate Moderators Pepper Republicans with Questions from the Left.”


The questions from Williams in the interview excerpts aired on the Monday, September 12 NBC Nightly News:

# Occurs to me we are sitting thirty feet from Harry Truman’s official White House portrait. Members of your base are asking: “When are you going to get your Harry Truman on?”

# Did you come to a decision that what the country needs is in large part a good old public works bill?

# All of this, of course, is if you get what you want in a highly toxic atmosphere and it sure looked to me from the outside like you went into the debt ceiling fight thinking, surely they will do the statesman-like thing, surely they won't go there. And it seemed to me as if Speaker Boehner was coming to you saying, look, if it were up to me, we would do this, but I've got this membership problem. And they went there and now that marks our politics.

# Your approval, 44 percent. On your handling of the economy, 37 percent. Voters now prefer a generic, as-yet-unnamed Republican. And most Americans now say that you are in something that you can't likely recover from. Do you accept those numbers? Do you have to wear those?

# You see what's out there. You see what's being said about you. What do you say to those Americans who voted for that man on the poster that said “Hope”?

MSNBC.com video of the entire interview segment aired on Monday’s NBC Nightly News.

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