NBC Cheers Obama 'Cashing In' On 'History' of Gay Marriage Announcement

Leading off Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams enthusiastically touted the President's fundraising efforts: "President Obama cashing in the day after his gay marriage announcement." Moments later, Williams proclaimed: "Tonight, it is clear President Obama is hoping, at least, to capitalize on the history he made yesterday, becoming the first American president to come out in favor of same-sex marriage."

Williams fully embraced the cynicism of Obama's sudden flip-flop on the issue, noting how the President would be "appearing before a sympathetic audience tonight" of big-money campaign donors who "might not have been so sympathetic to the President before the gay marriage announcement."

In the report that followed, White House correspondent Kristen Welker dutifully acted as an Obama campaign stenographer: "And tonight, an enthusiastic roughly 2,000 supporters turned out to hear the President speak. A day after his endorsement of same-sex marriage, President Obama arrived in Seattle for three big-ticket fundraisers in friendly political territory, as his campaign tried to capitalize on the issue with this political ad targeting Mitt Romney."

Welker further added: "The Democratic National Committee says calls have been pouring in from donors today, and the President, who is already expected to break a record at a fundraiser hosted by George Clooney, may now bring in an even larger haul."

The adulation over Obama raking in the cash continued on Friday's NBC Today as co-host Savannah Guthrie announced: "President Obama's re-election campaign received a financial boost last night as some of Hollywood's biggest names turned out for a fundraiser hosted by Oscar-winner George Clooney."

Again Welker declared success:

Well, that Clooney event raised nearly $15 million. That's a new record. Now it's important to point out, it was scheduled well before the President's announcement about same-sex marriage, but that announcement certainly added to the buzz. In the wake of his same-sex marriage endorsement, President Obama arrived in Los Angeles to cash in on the financial might of Hollywood.

Welker gushed over the parade of celebrities that attended elitist event: "George Clooney, who has been a familiar face at the White House lately, hosted a record-breaking fundraiser, at his posh Los Angeles mansion. Tinseltown's A-list turned out. Including Barbra Streisand, Robert Downy Jr., Billy Crystal, and Selma Hayek."

Sounding like Obama's press secretary, Welker summarized his remarks to the left-wing crowd:

In addressing the crowd of 150 wealthy donors, the President said, "2008, in some ways, was lightning in a bottle. That's not going to be replicated, and that means we're going to have to work harder." He also acknowledged that he had "made some news" by announcing his support for same-sex marriage. "It was a logical extension of what America is supposed to be," he said to applause.

Continuing to tout the Obama money-machine, Welker remarked: "Hollywood insiders say new donors are getting on board after this week's announcement." Daily Variety managing editor Ted Johnson explained: "Norman Lear had been reluctant to actually write a check for the campaign. He reversed that position. I've talked to other donors who are encouraging their friends to go out and support – go online and support the campaign."

A sound bite was featured from former DNC national finance director Erika Payne: "I think, generally speaking, the progressives have really been looking for some – some fire from this president, and so I think you'll see across the board that people really step up." Welker also included Payne in her Nightly News report.

On both Today and Nightly News, Welker did manage to make room for some reporting on Republican fundraising efforts. On Friday morning she pointed out the gay marriage issue "cuts both ways," and that "social conservatives are re-energized in their support for Mitt Romney." She added: "Romney also raked in big cash Thursday, during campaign events in Omaha and Kansas."

On Thursday night she conveyed: "But the President's supporters are not the only ones using the issue to raise money. Social conservative and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee sent this e-mail to his supporters, calling same-sex marriage 'a defining issue of this election' and asking for $10 donations. Romney, campaigning in Omaha, also raised big money today."


Here is a full transcript of Welker's May 10 Nightly News report:

7:00PM ET TEASE:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: On our broadcast tonight, on the trail. President Obama cashing in the day after his gay marriage announcement.

7:01PM ET SEGMENT:

WILLIAMS: Tonight, it is clear President Obama is hoping, at least, to capitalize on the history he made yesterday, becoming the first American president to come out in favor of same-sex marriage. While he believes it's a matter that has to be decided by the individual states, where the tide so far has been against it, the President nonetheless is appearing before a sympathetic audience tonight, one that might not have been so sympathetic to the President before the gay marriage announcement. It's where we begin this evening with our White House correspondent Kristen Welker, she's in Seattle. Kristen, good evening.

KRISTEN WELKER: Good evening to you, Brian. In fact, this is a state that has passed a law to legalize same-sex marriage. And tonight, an enthusiastic roughly 2,000 supporters turned out to hear the President speak. A day after his endorsement of same-sex marriage, President Obama arrived in Seattle for three big-ticket fundraisers in friendly political territory, as his campaign tried to capitalize on the issue with this political ad targeting Mitt Romney.

[ON-SCREEN TEXT: Mitt Romney on Marriage Yesterday]

MITT ROMNEY: I indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I don't favor civil unions.

WELKER: The Democratic National Committee says calls have been pouring in from donors today, and the President, who is already expected to break a record at a fundraiser hosted by George Clooney, may now bring in an even larger haul. Erika Payne is a former deputy national finance director for the DNC.

ERIKA PAYNE: It'll make the President's financial supporters double down their support of him. But for the electorate at as a whole, this is an economic election.

WELKER: But the President's supporters are not the only ones using the issue to raise money. Social conservative and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee sent this e-mail to his supporters, calling same-sex marriage "a defining issue of this election" and asking for $10 donations. Romney, campaigning in Omaha, also raised big money today.

ROMNEY: They told me it was the most successful fundraising event in the history of Nebraska.

WELKER: But he said this about the same-sex marriage question.

ROMNEY: I hope the issue, as tender and sensitive as the marriage issue is, is not a source of fundraising for either of us.

WELKER: Romney also said he intends to keep the conversation focused on the economy, which he sees as his strongest argument.

ROMNEY: It's the economy, which is the focus of what they're talking about. And obviously, the President doesn't want to talk about that.

WELKER: Now Brian, we also learned today that Vice President Biden apologized to President Obama for those comments that he made this past Sunday on Meet the Press, in which he essentially endorsed same-sex marriage and jumped the gun on this issue. Brian.

ROMNEY: Kristen Welker in Seattle to start us off tonight. Kristen, thanks.

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