NBC Cheers Obama 'Fighting Back' With 'Emotional Plea' for Gun Restrictions

At the top of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams enthusiastically touted President Obama playing offense on gun regulations: "Fighting back. President Obama is out with his plan on gun control, the most sweeping in generations. As the NRA uses the President's own daughters in an attack ad."

Moments later, Williams framed the debate this way: "President Obama came out with his proposals for the most sweeping gun control measures in many years. The National Rifle Association launched a preemptive strike against it. It involved the President's family, in part. But this time they may have some formidable opposition to their position."

In the report that followed, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd gushed over the President playing on people's emotions to push his agenda:

This was no ordinary policy rollout. We've seen the President do this on a number of issues. This one was filled with an emotional plea, if you will. In fact, the President spent more time trying to drum up support for a campaign using emotion than he did talking about his actual plans themselves. An emotional President Obama unveiled his plan in front of an audience that included parents of Newtown victims.

Todd argued how different proposals from Obama could have prevented or minimized past shootings and highlighted the President using children as props during the midday announcement: "Mr. Obama pleaded with Americans to confront Congress directly....And he even showcased children who have written him since Newtown."

A sound bite played of Obama quoting from the letter of one young girl: "She said, 'I know that laws have to be passed by Congress, but I beg you to try very hard.' Julia, I will try very hard." As the clip played, an image of the letter appeared on screen of the girl pleading for the President, "to make guns not allowed. Not just for me, but for the whole United States."

On Thursday's Today, correspondent Peter Alexander promoted how Obama will "take this message on the road in the days and weeks ahead" and informed viewers how they could get involved on Twitter: "They're already doing it online with the #nowisthetime."


Here is a full transcript of Todd's January 16 Nightly News report:

7:00PM ET TEASE:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Fighting back. President Obama is out with his plan on gun control, the most sweeping in generations. As the NRA uses the President's own daughters in an attack ad. As both sides harden for battle, we'll hear from both sides here tonight.

7:01PM ET SEGMENT:

WILLIAMS: It just – [no audio] – innocent school children were killed in Newtown, Connecticut, an event so gruesome it has already forced a change in this nation's gun policy. As we first reported here last night, today President Obama came out with his proposals for the most sweeping gun control measures in many years. The National Rifle Association launched a preemptive strike against it. It involved the President's family, in part. But this time they may have some formidable opposition to their position. It's where we begin our reporting tonight with our chief White House correspondent, Chuck Todd. Chuck, good evening

CHUCK TODD: Good evening, Brian. This was no ordinary policy rollout. We've seen the President do this on a number of issues. This one was filled with an emotional plea, if you will. In fact, the President spent more time trying to drum up support for a campaign using emotion than he did talking about his actual plans themselves. An emotional President Obama unveiled his plan in front of an audience that included parents of Newtown victims.

BARACK OBAMA: She dreamed of becoming a painter. Chris, her father, gave me one of her paintings. And I hung it in my private study. And every time I look at that painting, I think about how when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now. For Grace.

TODD: The President outlined four major points. Each one evoked memories of past mass shootings.

OBAMA: We will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence.

TODD: This action makes it easier to share mental health records with authorities, a move that could have identified Seung-Hui Cho as a threat before the Virginia Tech massacre.

OBAMA: Congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and a ten-round limit for magazines.

TODD: The previous weapons ban expired in 2004. The gun used in Newtown, Connecticut is the kind that would be banned. He wants a limit on ammunition that could have reduced the number killed in Aurora, Colorado.

OBAMA: If you want to buy a gun, you should at least have to show you are not a felon or somebody legally prohibited from buying one.

TODD: It would tighten background checks, which could have helped prevent guns from getting into the hands of the Columbine shooters. The President also proposed clearing the way for schools who want armed guards to get them. But while he called for a study of violent video games, he made no mention of television or motion pictures.

Republicans responded negatively, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who issued a statement that said, in part, "President Obama is again abusing his power by imposing his policies via executive fiat."

Mr. Obama pleaded with Americans to confront Congress directly.

OBAMA: Ask them what's more important. Doing whatever it takes to get a 'A' grade from the gun lobby or giving parents some peace of mind when they drop their child off for first grade?

TODD: And he even showcased children who have written him since Newtown.

OBAMA: She said, "I know that laws have to be passed by Congress, but I beg you to try very hard." Julia, I will try very hard.

TODD: Chuck Todd, NBC News, the White House.

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