NBC's Gregory Hits Jan Brewer: 'Are You Showing Disrespect For the Office of the Presidency?'

Concluding a dramatically slanted discussion on immigration on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, host David Gregory grilled Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on a recent argument with President Obama and her declining an invitation to a White House party, insisting: "Are you showing disrespect for the office of the presidency?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

In the lead-up conversation to that question, Gregory lobbed softballs to California Democratic Governor Jerry Brown while declaring to Governor Brewer that the Republican stance on immigration, including Arizona's "very tough immigration law," are a "big part of the problem" in the GOP attracting Hispanic voters.

Gregory teed up Brown to slam Republicans:

...34 years ago, to the day, you were on Meet the Press....You said, "I do believe that the Mexican-American has been too invisible in California and throughout the Southwest...it is imperative that we in this country, and particularly in the Southwest, open our hearts and our minds to this culture"....If you look at the percentage that they occupy, the voting block, and they are certainly not very happy with the Republican Party, do you believe even more strongly today what you said 34 years ago?

Predictably, Brown responded in part: "...you can't round up 12 million people and ship them back across the border, that's a disaster. We have to certainly secure the border, but we need comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship, and I think Obama would support – supports that and I certainly do."

Gregory's stunning double standard in questioning conservative versus liberal quests was similarly on display during a segment with Republican Congressman Paul Ryan and Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen on the February 20 broadcast.  

Reacting to Gregory's assertion that the Arizona immigration law was "very tough," Brewer pointed out that "it mirrors federal law." Gregory shot back: "But there was a federal injunction into a portion of the law...."

Continuing to press Brewer on the topic, Gregory demanded: "Governor Brewer – why not testify on Capitol Hill? [Democratic] Senator [Chuck] Schumer's committee asked you to testify about this Arizona law and you decided against it?"

Brewer observed: "Well, I think that it's ridiculous that he would invite me to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bottom line is, why didn't he ask me two years ago when all of this was on the forefront?"


Here are portions of the February 26 exchange:

11:01AM ET

(...)

DAVID GREGORY: Let me move to a really important issue in Arizona and in this fall campaign, and that's the issue of immigration. As I mentioned Governor Brown, 34 years ago, to the day, you were on Meet the Press, and we couldn't actually find the tape for it, but we have something that you said about immigration which I want to put up on the screen. You said, "I do believe that the Mexican-American has been too invisible in California and throughout the Southwest...it is imperative that we in this country, and particularly in the Southwest, open our hearts and our minds to this culture and that we try to accelerate the melting pot and the assimilation process, so that we can live together in harmony."

Here's Time magazine this week, and on the cover it is "Yo Decido," which is that "I'm going to decide," Hispanic Americans are going to decide who the next president is. If you look at the percentage that they occupy, the voting block, and they are certainly not very happy with the Republican Party, do you believe even more strongly today what you said 34 years ago?

JERRY BROWN [GOVERNOR, D-CA] Very much so. And I was – I think I may be the only governor, but I know I'm the one who signed the DREAM Act in California that will enable undocumented students who do well in high school to go to college, pay in-state tuition, and even get a scholarship. So, I know there's a lot of controversy in that, but you can't round up 12 million people and ship them back across the border, that's a disaster. We have to certainly secure the border, but we need comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship, and I think Obama would support – supports that and I certainly do.

GREGORY: Governor Brewer, the view within the Republican Party is that demographically these candidates don't get the fact that what they say about immigration, and also the policy positions towards immigration, where your state is really the flash point of it because of your very tough immigration law, is a big part of the problem.

(...)

GREGORY: I want – and the frustration has obviously bubbled over in your interactions with President Obama, too. This picture, now well known, during his last visit to Arizona when you met him on the tarmac and appeared to have a confrontation with him over some things that were in your book that he didn't quite like. You've been invited, as part of the National Governors Conference, to have a dinner at the White House, you've declined to go.

BREWER: I have.

GREGORY: Are you showing disrespect for the office of the presidency?

BREWER: Well, I hope that it isn't disrespect, I would not disrespect the President of the United States, I have other commitments. And I am going to be a the White House on Monday morning. I said that, you know, this event was a social thing. You know, I am a governor, I've got priorities and I will be there Monday when we all meet and discuss policy.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC