NBC's Guthrie Tougher on Ohio Band Director Than Obama Advisor Susan Rice

On Tuesday's Today, Savannah Guthrie had an exclusive interview with Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice, but rather than grill the controversial administration official on a variety of international crises, the NBC host merely tossed softballs. Meanwhile, about thirty minutes later, Guthrie interrogated former Ohio State University marching band director Jonathan Waters on being fired over the group's hazing practices.

Guthrie began her exchange with Rice by not even asking a question, just making a statement that "U.S. officials seem very, very confident" that the West African ebola outbreak could be contained. In her first real question to Rice, Guthrie simply wondered if the Israel-Hamas cease-fire in Gaza "will hold?" Finally, Guthrie worried that the ebola outbreak would overshadow a White House PR event with African leaders. That was the extent of interview.

Here's a list of major foreign policy problems Guthrie avoided:

> The shoot-down of Malaysia Flight 17.

> The ISIS terror group taking over Iraq.

> The illegal immigration crisis on the U.S. southern border.

> The state of the war in Afghanistan.

> The ongoing civil war in Syria.

Not only did Guthrie ignore such important topics, but she failed to mention any criticism of the administration's handling of the issues she did ask Rice about.


Here is a full transcript of the August 5 interview:

7:05 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let's turn to former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, she's President Obama's national security advisor. She's in Washington this morning at the site of this week's U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit that the President will address today. Ambassador Rice, good morning to you.

Let me ask you about this ebola outbreak to start with. U.S. officials seem very, very confident that it can be contained to West Africa even as we learn of more and more patients coming up with perhaps symptoms of ebola or at least the fear of it.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Treating Ebola In the U.S.; National Security Advisor Rice On Virus Threat]

SUSAN RICE: Well, good morning, Savannah. It's good to be with you. We are actively collaborating with our African partners in West Africa to help them contain and address this challenge. We have surged up to fifty workers from the Centers for Disease Control and our disaster response teams. We are actively helping them to detect and contain and manage the outbreak.

The risk to Americans is deemed by the Centers for Disease Control to be very low. And that is because of the nature of the transmission and the fact that it is largely contained now in the West African region. This is not a disease that can be communicated by sneezing or airborne or food or water. It requires a degree of intimate contact. And it requires a person to be actively symptomatic to be contagious. And we have in this country, Savannah, the protocols to isolate and manage any patient who may present with those symptoms of the disease.

GUTHRIE: I want to move on to that African Leaders Summit for which you are appearing today, but let's turn to some of the news of the day. We've just learned that Israel and Gaza have agreed to this temporary truce, this cease-fire. Then again, we've seen cease-fires collapse within sometimes minutes or hours in the last couple of weeks. How confident are you that this time it's different and that the cease-fire will hold?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Israel Withdraws Ground Troops; Peace Talk Plans As Temporary Cease-Fire Begins]

RICE: Well, we think it's very important that it hold, Savannah, because there's been a great deal of suffering in Israel and in Gaza. And our hearts go out to the people of Israel who've suffered rocket attacks and tunnel attacks and of course the horrific suffering in Gaza. So we are hopeful but we are mindful of the record that these cease-fires haven't held for very long in the past.

We think it's very important that both sides remain committed to it. And more importantly, that they use this opportunity of the 72-hour cease-fire to begin the negotiations that we have been working so energetically through Secretary Kerry, President Obama, and others to get off the ground so that the underlying causes of the conflict in Gaza can be addressed at the negotiating table.

GUTHRIE: I mentioned this African Leaders summit. All of these leaders coming to Washington in an unprecedented way. Part of this is to encourage business leaders here in the U.S. to invest in Africa. But then when we hear about this ebola outbreak, for example, does that in some ways complicate that sell? Of course it's just confined to one region, but does that make it harder to sell to U.S. businesses that Africa is ready for their investment?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: All Eyes On Ebola; Rice On U.S.-Africa Summit Underway in D.C.]

RICE: Well, what makes this is a unique occasion, Savannah, is that first of all it's historic, we've never had a gathering of up to fifty African heads of state with the American president in history. And we are bringing together business leaders and civil society leaders, faith leaders, all who understand the importance and the potential of Africa.

Today's event, the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, is truly unique because we have some of America's leading CEOs, some of Africa's leading CEOs, all of whom understand, as do many of our competitors overseas, that Africa presents an extraordinary opportunity for trade and investment.

Yes, of course, there are challenges of conflict, and as we've seen, even instances of disease and obviously corruption remains a challenge, but what is changing is that African people and African businesses and African governments are poised to grow and to thrive. Six of the ten fastest growing countries in the world, Savannah, are in Africa. And American business leaders recognize that potential. African business leaders are eager to partner with their American counterparts. And this poses an unprecedented opportunity to take that collaboration to a new level.

GUTHRIE: Well, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, it's good to have you with us as always. Thank you.

RICE: Good to be with you. Thank you.

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