Today Show Punts On Chuck Todd’s Criticism of President Obama’s Foreign Policy
President Obama headed up to New York City to record yesterday an interview with the ladies of ABC's The View. Today he gave a speech to the United Nations General Assembly but has steadfastly refused to meet with any foreign leaders while in the Big Apple, especially Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Given this, you'd think -- that the Today show might ask NBC News political director Chuck Todd about the controversy. Well, you’d be wrong. [See video below break. MP3 audio here.]
Appearing during the 7:00 a.m. Eastern hour with co-host Savannah Guthrie, Chuck Todd instead spent his time discussing the changing electoral map, which according to NBC News shows President Obama having four paths to reelection. The big selling point of Todd’s electoral map segment was his announcement that
Florida still matters big, and if somehow the president wins it, it’s check mate There’s no path without Florida.
Surprisingly, less than 10 minutes later, Todd appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and did comment on President Obama’s appearance at the United Nation and said the following:
I get what the president is doing politically this week, right? Which is do no harm, make as little news as you possibly can. Don't schedule any meetings, but it is striking. We went back to check President Bush's schedule September 2004, middle of a re-elect. Yes, foreign policy was more at the forefront than the economy. He had one-on-one bilateral meetings with Pakistan, India, Iraq, Afghanistan. And, you know, yes you could look back and say well politically that made sense for him. It is weird for the President of the United States, all these world leaders in town, not one, not one one-on-one. And it does sort of, you're like going, and you end up on The View. Again, I get the politics of it and they've made the decision saying, well, we'll take the heat from all you media elites attacking us on this because we don't want to create any news before the next debate.
During the 9:00 a.m. hour of Today, Peter Alexander did provide a news brief of President Obama’s foreign policy blunder, but failed to mention Chuck Todd’s comments earlier on MSNBC's Morning Joe.
It strange that Todd’s comments conveniently appeared 10 minutes after his appearance on Today, on Morning Joe, which has a much smaller audience than its over-the-air broadcast counterpart. Todd also appeared on Monday’s Nightly News with Brian Williams where he did discuss Obama’s UN speech, but again, Today failed to run a clip of that appearance.
See relevant transcripts below.
September 25, 2012
7:15 a.m. EDT
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: President Obama, Governor Romney both in New York City today to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative, and the president will also deliver an address to the United Nations General Assembly. Governor Romney will drop by NBC's Education Nation Summit. Chuck Todd is NBC's Political Director, Chief White House Correspondent. You come with your telestrator today.
CHUCK TODD: I do, I do.
GUTHRIE: Well, let's talk about the state of the union in terms of the battleground map. We know 270 is the magic number.
GUTHRIE: Where do things stand right now?
TODD: Right now we have the president at 243 here, and what that means is we've got states adding up 243 electoral votes. 270, of course, is the magic number. What we've recently moved was the state of Iowa, and that put him at 243. What's interesting here, Savannah though. It means he now needs only a couple of states, a couple of the big states, big three that I talk about all the time, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, just a couple of ways and he gets over the finish line.
GUTHRIE: We talk about Ohio. It's usually a bellwether, you have a couple of scenarios to run through here. I think this one shows if President Obama takes Ohio.
TODD: We do. Let me show you what happens when we give him Ohio here, we have another graphic here. Watch the number change, watch how close he gets to 270. Gets him to 261 here. And now that means what? There's about four different scenarios, let me clean the map up here a little bit. There’s about four different scenarios Savannah now, that gets him to 270, but let's give Romney the benefit of the doubt and assume that in the order of the other remaining eight states, Florida, a North Carolina, Wisconsin, although who knows now with Packer fans how they will feel and whether they even show up to vote.
GUTHRIE: Had to get the football in.
TODD: I had to, I’m a little upset this morning. You give him all that it gets him to 264 and it leaves us and people kept asking me, what is this year's Florida? What is this year's Ohio? When you go through any scenario, I get -- I come to the state of Virginia. Virginia in 2008 was the state that most closely matched the national number. It is the state that is sort of right there on the edge. The president has a little bit of a lead but it seems to match where he is in the national numbers.
GUTHRIE: And in 2008 Virginia, most closely matched where the country added up, right?
TODD: That’s right. It was 53/47, Obama over McCain and it was basically 53/47 in the state of Virginia. And Virginia is interesting here, you’ve got a state that economically is doing very well. A lot of government workers in Northern Virginia. A minority population that might turn out in bigger numbers than more, African-American population but a growing Hispanic population and yes it’s got some southern roots that should help Romney but that combination is what makes it, sort of, I think, it’s the ultimate swing state. It's this year's Florida or Ohio.
GUTHRIE: But Florida still matters very quickly.
TODD: Florida still matters big, and if somehow the president wins it, it’s check mate There’s no path without Florida. But you go through all the scenarios and for Mitt Romney, there's no path. If he's going to cede Ohio. And that's what's gone on here, it’s this move of Ohio where Romney cannot seem to connect with white working class voters, yes he’s doing this big bus trip. But it’s the move of Ohio, that suddenly means he’s got to win both Florida and Virginia. If you’re Romney, you see Florida getting in your column before you see the state of Virginia.
September 25, 2012
7:24 a.m. EDT
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You know, Chuck [Todd] party hack…
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Hello, Chuck.
SCARBOROUGH: And sycophants who will support anybody that’s on the Republican side attacked me this last week for criticizing Mitt Romney's press conference on Monday. It is stunning how many people in the Romney campaign at the very top of the Romney campaign are going, oh, we made a terrible mistake there. And we've been focused on that. But that said, Barack Obama's approval ratings on foreign policy, actually, are going down. This chaos seems to be filtering through and having an effect.
CHUCK TODD: Well, it does. And I think somebody said it really well. It was on this show last week.
SCARBOROUGH: It was probably me. I'm sure it was –
TODD: It had to be somebody else. It had to be somebody else. When American lives get lost, the American public tunes in to foreign policy. Foreign policy -- when it doesn't get forced into the living room, right when they don't see –
BRZEZINSKI: I don't know about that. Afghanistan.
TODD: Men and women dying on the battlefield. No, the sort of when does it sort of get forced in the forefront? When lives are lost. You know, some high-profile American life was lost.
SCARBOROUGH: And by the way, they've tuned out Afghanistan.
TODD: They have.
SCARBOROUGH: So when -- which is a disgrace. But, when you see a U.S. Ambassador killed and dragged through the streets of Benghazi, they pay attention.
TODD: They do. And it's interesting here. I think that, I get what the president is doing politically this week, right? Which is do no harm, make as little news as you possibly can. Don't schedule any meetings, but it is striking. We went back to check President Bush's schedule September 2004, middle of a re-elect. Yes, foreign policy was more at the forefront than the economy. He had one-on-one bilateral meetings with Pakistan, India, Iraq, Afghanistan. And, you know, yes you could look back and say well politically that made sense for him. It is weird for the President of the United States, all these world leaders in town, not one, not one one-on-one. And it does sort of, you're like going, and you end up on The View. Again, I get the politics of it and they've made the decision saying, well, we'll take the heat from all you media elites attacking us on this because we don't want to create any news before the next debate.
SCARBOROUGH: But Jon Meacham…
TODD: It's cynical.
SCARBOROUGH: So what you said and what The New York Times is writing about today that this president not only does he not have personal relationships with even Democrats in the United States Senate as your story told and certainly Republicans, but also foreign leaders are -- he just doesn't –he has not built these relationships and he doesn't seem to want to. Hasn't scheduled a single meeting with a foreign leader this week.
JON MEACHAM: I mean a really interesting question which we talk about sometimes is why is it that so many introverts go into politics and do well? And Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, I mean these are folks who get the ultimate prize but are fundamentally introverted personalities, right? President Obama by no account would enjoy being in a big, crowded room unless it was with some distance.
TODD: I think all presidential nominees and eventual presidents have a genetic disorder. I always say well you have to be a little off to..
MEACHAM: It could be learned.
TODD: But they're not like us, let's not pretend. It is different.
SCARBOROUGH: Speaking of genes –
MEACHAM: To me, it's a really interesting historical question why these folks choose this business and then do pretty well but then it’s got its natural kind of tragic limit.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, it does. So, Gene [Robinson], so what about this point about the president not scheduling any meetings with foreign leaders? Obviously the polar opposite of the guy we're going to be interviewing next hour, Bill Clinton.
EUGENE ROBINSON: Well, you know, I think there are two possibilities. And I'm not sure I buy either one. I mean, one is that it is strictly a political decision not to make news. But, you know, the other is that there's nothing to talk about. And clearly, there's a lot to talk about, right? With, you know, you could talk over like the Arab Spring and Afghanistan and this and that with a bunch of leaders, not to mention the world economic crisis. So I do think it's odd that there are no bilaterals, there usually are bilaterals. And, you know, they have potential for going wrong. But they also have potential for advancing U.S. interests.
MIKE BARNICLE: You know, Chuck [Todd], apart from not having any bilateral meetings here in New York this week while he's here, this White House, though, clearly must have, I would think, a sense that the world, the middle east especially is far different today than it was even five years ago.
BARNICLE: And that our role in the world and in the Middle East has got to change drastically and be reduced.
TODD: Well, I think they are trying to change it. And I think look, the one, one of the interesting alliances and relationships and we're sitting here talking about presidential relationships that he's developed in the middle east is with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey. Okay, the Turks are making a bigger play in the Middle East, becoming more important -- look, they're right now the most important ally that the Syrian -- the Syrian sort of militants that are revolting against Assad. There’s nobody more important to them than Turkey and Erdogan and all of those. But to go back to this, I actually think the one where I'm sort of stunned, to me the most -- forget the politics of Netanyahu, that's a whole -- we know that's -- we know what that is. That's rhetorical sort of cynical politics that's going to campaign politics about should he meet with Netanyahu. They do talk all the time. But a one-on-one meeting that seems necessary to me is the new president of Egypt. I mean I think that is one. And here’s the thing like, I can just see republicans saying, oh, my god if he only met—and I know what the White House did. They probably feel like they do need to meet with him, they can't because it becomes this political issue and the Republicans go, oh, look at the president meeting with the Muslim brotherhood. This is an important relationship to figure out.
SCARBOROUGH: I've got a shocking suggestion, why don’t you meet with each one of them for 15 minutes just to meet them.
TODD: That's what I expected to happen. That that was the way you do both.
SCARBOROUGH: I met with Netanyahu, I met with the new president of Egypt, I would say now would be a good time to –
BRZEZINSKI: Yeah let's take them golfing, that makes a lot of sense.