NBC’s Williams Pushes White House Narrative on Obama Vacation: ‘It’s A Working Vacation’

In the wake of the recent surge of violence in northern Iraq as well as the potential coup within the government, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams did his best to push the White House line that President Obama’s summer vacation was full of work. 

On Monday, August 11, Williams introduced a segment with Chris Jansing, NBC’s Senior White House Correspondent, by promoting how “the White House is taking pains to stress that even though President Obama is on vacation, it’s a working vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.” [See video below.] 

The NBC anchor went on to hype how “in between trips to the beach and the golf course, the machinery of the presidency of course is there with him. They released a photo of the president today with his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice. Then late today the news media were summoned as the president came to the microphones to talk about the situation in Iraq.” 

While Williams did his best to oversell the White House line on Obama’s vacation, he took a swipe at the administration following the ousting of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: 

There were rumors of this coup in Iraq that Prime Minister Maliki was out. The president's remarks today seem to be wishful thinking about the government there the U.S. wants, not necessarily the government Iraq has. 

See relevant transcript below. 


NBC Nightly News

August 11, 2014

BRIAN WILLIAMS: The White House is taking pains to stress that even though President Obama is on vacation, it's a working vacation in Martha's Vineyard. In between trips to the beach and the golf course, the machinery of the presidency of course is there with him. They released a photo of the president today with his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice. Then late today the news media were summoned as the president came to the microphones to talk about the situation in Iraq. Our Senior White House Correspondent Chris Jansing traveling with the president. And Chris, there were rumors of this coup in Iraq that Prime Minister Maliki was out. The president's remarks today seem to be wishful thinking about the government there the U.S. wants, not necessarily the government Iraq has. 

CHRIS JANSING: There's no doubt about that, Brian. And it was a late decision today for the president to make a statement. And we should also say it comes at an absolutely critical time for both Iraq and the administration's military and humanitarian efforts there. But here's what's significant to your point. The president offered congratulations to the newly named Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi but ignored the outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The implicit message though was to tell Maliki it’s time to get out. In the last 24 hours Maliki’s moves including the calling up of military forces have set up this dangerous political struggle within Iraq with major implications for U.S. strategy. Here's why. The White House has made it clear they believe the only way forward is a new prime minister who can form an inclusive government. And today the president and vice president called Abadi to pledge support.  But the situation on the ground tonight is so volatile it's a long way from the stability the White House says it needs to end this new and open-ended involvement. And then lay the groundwork for Iraq to take the lead in controlling ISIS. Brian. 

WILLIAMS: Chris Jansing tonight covering the vacationing president Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Chris, thanks. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.