NBC's Todd Labels Susan Rice 'Victim' of 'Conservative Media' Attacks

Moments after news broke of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrawing her name from consideration to be secretary of state, NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd appeared on MSNBC's Martin Bashir to denounce those he deemed responsible: "It was all driven, in many cases, by some conservative outlets who were making her the center of the Benghazi story....[which] never made a lot of sense. She sort of became a victim of this." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Left-wing host Bashir teed up Todd by reciting Rice's resume and declaring her to be "amply qualified" for the cabinet post, but that "so much of the criticism of her seemed to suggest that she was not, and that was dressed up under the guise of these attacks following what happened in Benghazi" Todd lamented that Rice not having a "full PR team" meant she "was more susceptible to this type of where one story where she could become the victim of these attacks very quickly, it could take hold."

Todd continued to whine:

I think it is too easy now in the way our media world is set up, the media landscape is set up, that if – you can become collateral damage in a hurry in just the way you can get piled on, whether it's Twitter, whether it's advocacy journalism, whatever you want to describe it, talk radio. And that's what she was. Let's not – make no mistake, she became political collateral damage and I think that that's something that we've got a little introspection here.

Bashir quoted from Rice's letter to the President: "As someone who grew up in an era of comparative bipartisanship and as a sitting U.S. national security official who served the U.S. in two U.S. administrations, I am saddened that we've reached this point. Even before you've decided upon whom to nominate." Todd replied: "Well, and that's what happened and I think she's right..."

Todd wrapped up the exchange by reiterating: "...there is now advocacy journalism or media – journalism is not the right word, advocacy media, that, I think, that in particularly base Republican politics, that they're very sensitive to and elected officials become very reactive to it....And I think potentially overly reactive to it, and that has consequences like what we saw, I think, with Susan Rice."

And what about MSNBC's left-wing advocacy?


Here is a transcript of the December 13 exchange:

4:04PM ET

(...)

MARTIN BASHIR: Chuck, this woman was highly qualified.

CHUCK TODD: Right.

BASHIR: She's a Rhodes scholar. She has a Ph.D. from Oxford in international relations. She's been a fellow of the Brookings Institution. She's a graduate of Stanford. She's been assistant secretary of state for African affairs. She's ambassador to the United Nations. She is amply qualified, and yet so much of the criticism of her seemed to suggest that she was not, and that was dressed up under the guise of these attacks following what happened in Benghazi, was it not?

CHUCK TODD: Well, I think this was a case that she – and this is something that I think we in the collective media, and I don't know how to define that anymore these days, but-
 
BASHIR: Well, you're in the center of it, Chuck.

TODD: Well, that's what they tell me sometimes.

BASHIR: You are.

TODD: But it is interesting, Susan Rice, because she's not an elected official, doesn't have her own consulting team around her, doesn't have a full PR team, was more susceptible to this type of where one story where she could become the victim of these attacks very quickly, it could take hold. You look at our NBC/Wall Street Journal polling, she was measuring a net negative, she had 69% of the country knew who she was, which is frankly unheard of for a cabinet level position like U.N. ambassador.

It was all driven, in many cases, by some conservative outlets who were making her the center of the Benghazi story, when there were legitimate questions to ask about the Benghazi story, but the idea that she belonged in the center of those attacks never made a lot of sense. She sort of became a victim of this. And I think it is too easy now in the way our media world is set up, the media landscape is set up, that if – you can become collateral damage in a hurry in just the way you can get piled on, whether it's Twitter, whether it's advocacy journalism, whatever you want to describe it, talk radio. And that's what she was. Let's not – make no mistake, she became political collateral damage and I think that that's something that we've got a little introspection here.

BASHIR: I get that Chuck, and I understand the adversarial nature of the media. But it wasn't just the media, Chuck. In her own letter, she says, "As someone who grew up in an era of comparative bipartisanship and as a sitting U.S. national security official who served the U.S. in two U.S. administrations, I am saddened that we've reached this point. Even before you've decided upon whom to nominate." She's talking about the exact same conflicts that you placed within the media, she says that's happening politically. That's the point she's making. And she's right, isn't she?

TODD: Well, and that's what happened and I think she's right and I'm not going to sit here and say which comes first, but there is now advocacy journalism or media – journalism is not the right word, advocacy media, that, I think, that in particularly base Republican politics, that they're very sensitive to and elected officials become very reactive to it.

BASHIR: Indeed.

TODD: And I think potentially overly reactive to it, and that has consequences like what we saw, I think, with Susan Rice.

BASHIR: Chuck, thanks so much.

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