NBC: Proposed 'Explosive' Jeremiah Wright Ad Would Put 'Race Front and Center'

On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams decried a pitch to use President Obama's former radical left-wing pastor Jeremiah Wright in a campaign ad: "...there was an explosive headline this morning. The New York Times reporting that a Republican super-PAC was considering an expensive anti-Obama ad campaign that would have put the issue of race front and center in the campaign..."

Williams conveniently skipped over Wright's vicious anti-American rhetoric in several sermons, preferring to cast the story in racial terms. The only sound bite featured of Wright in the segment was brief and again described in racial terms, as correspondent Peter Alexander explained: "...the plan for a short film to publicize Wright's racially incendiary sermons, including this remark following 9/11." The sound bite that followed showed Wright ranting: "America's chickens are coming home to roost."

Alexander began his report by hyping the suggested ad as some sort of scandal for Republicans: "Mitt Romney tried to distance himself from a conservative super-PAC's proposal for a explosive $10 million ad campaign..."

Williams and Alexander also used the story to go after campaign finance. Williams warned: "...it's the latest evidence of the potential power of big money this year in politics." Alexander similarly declared: "On a day the Romney campaign wanted the focus to be on its raising more than $40 million last month, a reignited debate over how super-PACs can both help and hurt a campaign."

A sound bite was featured from Darrell West of the liberal leaning Brookings Institution: "Voters do not distinguish between ads coming from the campaign versus the super-PACs, so candidates run the risk of being held accountable for bad things that these super-PACs do."

On FNC's Special Report on Thursday, columnist Charles Krauthammer condemned the media's "appalling double standard" on the issue, given that it was "okay for the Washington Post to run a five thousand word front page story on a prank that Romney, at the age of 15, committed." A story which NBC and others happily promoted.

ABC's World News and the CBS Evening News made no mention of the Reverend Wright ad suggestion on Thursday, only Nightly News felt it warranted coverage.


Here is a full transcript of Alexander's May 17 report:

7:05PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS: In presidential politics, there was an explosive headline this morning. The New York Times reporting that a Republican super-PAC was considering an expensive anti-Obama ad campaign that would have put the issue of race front and center in the campaign and linked the President to some of the more controversial statements by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Tonight, Republicans, including Mitt Romney, are trying to distance themselves from that strategy. But as NBC's Peter Alexander reports, it's the latest evidence of the potential power of big money this year in politics.

PETER ALEXANDER: Campaigning today in Florida, Mitt Romney tried to distance himself from a conservative super-PAC's proposal for a explosive $10 million ad campaign designed to renew attention on President Obama's ties to his controversial former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

MITT ROMNEY: I want to make it very clear I repudiate that effort. I think it's the wrong course for a PAC or a campaign. I hope that our campaigns can respectively be about the future.

ALEXANDER: A leaked copy of the 54-page proposal, titled "The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama," first reported in today's New York Times, was presented this week to the super-PAC funded by billionaire Joe Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs. The proposal refers to President Obama as "the metrosexual black Abraham Lincoln" and reveals detailed storyboards that lay out the plan for a short film to publicize Wright's racially incendiary sermons, including this remark following 9/11.

JEREMIAH WRIGHT: America's chickens are coming home to roost.

ALEXANDER: In a statement to NBC News today, the super-PAC insists the ads won't air, adding the proposed campaign, "Reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted." Still, on a day the Romney campaign wanted the focus to be on its raising more than $40 million last month, a reignited debate over how super-PACs can both help and hurt a campaign.

DARRELL WEST: Voters do not distinguish between ads coming from the campaign versus the super-PACs, so candidates run the risk of being held accountable for bad things that these super-PACs do.

ALEXANDER: Romney today tried to cast himself as the one taking the moral high ground, characterizing his new ad out tomorrow as positive and criticizing the Obama campaign for what he called "character assassination." Peter Alexander, NBC News, Washington.

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