NBC's Lauer Uses Oklahoma Tornado to Bash GOP Over Sandy Relief

In an interview with Congressman Tom Cole on Wednesday's NBC Today about the tornado that devastated his hometown of Moore, Oklahoma, co-host Matt Lauer saw an opportunity to hit congressional Republicans for daring to oppose pork barrel spending shoved into the Hurricane Sandy relief bill: "Back in January, you did something that a lot of your Republican colleagues did not do. You supported that bill for federal assistance, money for the victims of Hurricane Sandy." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Lauer continued: "Was part of your vote on that issue because in the back of your mind, you were thinking about your community, knowing that it was vulnerable to mother nature?" Cole noted the reason for fellow GOP members initially opposing the legislation: "...when you have a disaster, yes, you want to be prudent, and I applaud my colleagues for trying to do that, and do it the right way....on the Sandy vote, we had an offset vote, that's perfectly appropriate, but once that didn't make it, you want to continue and go ahead and help the people that need the help."

On CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O'Donnell similarly fretted over Republicans wanting to actually reduce government spending elsewhere to pay for disaster relief, asking Cole: "Do you agree with Senator Tom [Coburn] that any aid that comes to your state should be off-set?"

At the time the Sandy relief bill was being debated in Congress, NBC was eager to attack the GOP:

NBC: House GOP 'Ignored' Sandy Suffering; 'Another Body Blow' to Storm Victims

NBC's Lauer Hypes: GOP 'In Throes of a Civil War' Over Sandy Relief Bill

Networks Eagerly Promote How Christie 'Blasted' and 'Spanked' House GOP


Here is a portion of Lauer's May 22 interview with Rep. Cole:

8:16AM ET

(...)

MATT LAUER: Back in January, you did something that a lot of your Republican colleagues did not do. You supported that bill for federal assistance, money for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Did – was part of your vote on that issue because in the back of your mind, you were thinking about your community, knowing that it was vulnerable to mother nature?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Devastation In Oklahoma; Rep. Tom Cole On The Destruction In His District]

TOM COLE [REP. R-OK]: You know, it was. I actually told a colleague at the time, I said, "You know, you have to remember" – he asked me, "Why are you voting this way?" – and I said, "Look, you're from Oklahoma, you're one tornado away from being Joplin, Missouri." And so, I was secretary of state here in the Oklahoma City bombing, and I believe, you know, when you have a disaster, yes, you want to be prudent, and I applaud my colleagues for trying to do that, and do it the right way. There are ways to do it. But you immediately help the people in the affected areas. And you know, on the Sandy vote, we had an offset vote, that's perfectly appropriate, but once that didn't make it, you want to continue and go ahead and help the people that need the help.

And that's what we've always done as Americans and I feel very strongly about that. Again, we got a lot of help here in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 or in '99, so when things like Katrina happen or things like Sandy, since I've been in Congress, I figure, you know, it's kind of payback time for us.

LAUER: Congressman Tom Cole.

COLE: Matt, thank you.

LAUER: Congressman, it's a pleasure. Our thoughts with the people here in Moore.

TOM COLE: Appreciate it very much.

LAUER: Thank you for joining us.

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