A panel discussion on Monday's NBC Today on President Obama's second term quickly devolved into anti-Republican ranting, with correspondent Andrea Mitchell proclaiming: "It's been so toxic that I think the President is betting that the American people...are really fed up with this. And that it will be in the Republican Party's advantage to play somewhat toward getting something done." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Special correspondent Tom Brokaw followed up by touting how the GOP "lost big time" in the 2012 election and declared: "Now the Republicans are in disarray, trying to organize their party so they have a future. And they're going to have to deal with the reality of that as well. It is a party that is so broken into a lot of parts on the GOP side and there's going to have to be a lot of mending done and then more outreach as well."
A short time later, in the 8 a.m. et hour, New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor eagerly told co-host Savannah Guthrie how Obama plans to go after the GOP in a second term: "The mystery that hung over the first inauguration is gone. We know exactly what he wants to do agenda-wise. And he's also much – I love this word – 'bloodier minded,' somebody said to me, about beating Republicans."
Later in the 8 o'clock hour, in an impromptu exchange with Republican strategist Frank Luntz, Mitchell grilled: "Four years ago, Frank, you helped lead a group of Republicans who were strategizing, including Cantor and McCarthy and all the House leaders, strategizing on how to stop Barack Obama from achieving his goals. Was that a signal of the obstructionism and the partisanship that we experienced?"
The coverage omitted any discussion of the President's role in the "toxic" atmosphere in Washington in his first term.
Here is a full transcript of the January 21 panel discussion:
MATT LAUER: Andrea [Mitchell] thank you very much. Joined by a couple of familiar faces in David Gregory and Tom Brokaw as well. Guys, welcome to all of you.
DAVID GREGORY: Good morning.
LAUER: There's a saying that the job of the President in the first term is to get a second term. So that's been mission accomplished now. In your opinion, David, how high will this President set his goals for the second term? How high should he?
DAVID GREGORY: Well, I think the key is economic restoration, he comes into office amid financial ruin in the country. I think he understands the public wants to get back to work, wants the country to grow again economically. I think everything flows from that. I think that's what we start to hear today, and that's really the mission of – it's four years, but it's really much less than that, when you think about that.
LAUER: It starts with that, it starts with the fiscal responsibility, debts and spending. It goes to gun control, it goes to immigration, perhaps some action on climate control. That's a very big wish list. What are the chances that he gets a little piece of all of that?
TOM BROKAW: Well, I don't know whether he will get a piece of all of that. I think what we'll know more at the end of the day is, after his inaugural speech, my guess is, based on what I've been told, we'll hear a little more prose than poetry and a lot of it will be addressed to the middle class, because they are the forgotten part of the American economy in the eyes of a lot of Democrats especially. My guess is that the big theme for him in the second term, Matt, is going to be big ideas that unite the country, not the small ideas that have divided us for the past several of years. And as David is right, you've got to restore the economy and then everything flows from that.
LAUER: You talk about big ideas that unite the country. And last night – I was saying in the open of this show, Andrea and David and Tom jump in here – that they were playing the 2009 inaugural address. And when he talked about the things, like saying, "On this day we put aside petty politics. On this day we put aside the politics of division. We show the people of this country that their government works for them." And yet over these last four years we've seen time and time again those things are firmly entrenched here.
ANDREA MITCHELL: It's been so toxic that I think the President is betting that the American people, clear in our polls, the people are really fed up with this. And that it will be in the Republican Party's advantage to play somewhat toward getting something done. You saw that in Williamsburg, Virginia, with the House caucus last week when Paul Ryan steered the party, and the more radical elements of the Tea Party which supported him, to some sort of compromise, short-term, at least, on the debt ceiling. They know they need to-
LAUER: Was it compromise or just a strategy to move a bigger fight down the road?
BROKAW: Well, I think it's an indication, I think it's a tell-tale sign about where the Republicans are. Four years ago, when the President was making that speech, Republicans were meeting at night.
BROKAW: Trying to decide how they were going to defeat him when he runs for re-election. They lost that, big time. He had a very robust electoral victory and a significant popular vote victory. Now the Republicans are in disarray, trying to organize their party so they have a future. And they're going to have to deal with the reality of that as well. It is a party that is so broken into a lot of parts on the GOP side and there's going to have to be a lot of mending done and then more outreach as well.
GREGORY: A couple of key areas. This is a President who's focused on energy independence. People close to him say that could be an unlikely bipartisan legacy for President Obama. And health care, party-line vote, divided the country. Implementation's going to be tough, it's something he's going to have to spend a lot of time on to show results.
LAUER: Wasn't it seen, though, that immigration was an area where he might have the best chance of success?
GREGORY: And I still think that's the case.
LAUER: Probably is true?
MITCHELL: I think that is something that the Republicans know they need to focus on. Guns are going to be tough, but I think the President also feels that on issues like this, he now can take some chances, even if it's not politically popular, and it's not. He's going for the long ball as well.
LAUER: I know you've got a lot to talk about, let's save a little of it because you're going to be with us throughout the entire day.
BROKAW: Oh my, I had no idea.
LAUER: That's true, they didn't tell you? You gotta start reading your e-mails.
BROKAW: I told you everything I know.
LAUER: Tom Brokaw, David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell. Folks, always good to spend time with you.