In a report from the Vatican on Thursday's NBC Today, correspondent Keir Simmons fretted over Church officials limiting press access to cardinals as they prepare to elect the next Pope in Conclave: "The U.S. cardinals have been told to stop talking, to close ranks. Since Monday, they've been holding news conferences....The last, abruptly cancelled before it began, the Vatican imposing immediate clamp down in spite of hopes that the Church will modernize."
Introducing the segment, co-host Matt Lauer declared: "...secrecy has become a top priority for Vatican officials." A sound bite was featured in the report of Reuters Vatican senior correspondent Phil Pullella ranting: "I think it will backfire because it shows fear, it shows fear of the truth, it shows fear of dealing with the outside world."
In an interview on Monday's Today with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his co-author Clint Bolick about their new book, Immigration Wars, co-host Matt Lauer seized Bush's critical words for fellow Republicans: "...this is an alarm to your party. You called Republicans 'tone deaf and hostile to immigrants and Hispanics,' you fault the party for being unwilling to expand the base, and you warn that Republicans face, your word, 'extinction' if they continue to alienate Hispanics. Is this damage that was caused and has been inflicted, whether self or not, something that can be repaired in time for 2016?"
Lauer began the segment by wondering: "Your brother [George W. Bush] won 44% of the Hispanic vote. By contrast, Governor Romney won 27%. 71% went to President Obama. Was it Governor Romney's fault or the party's fault?" Bush replied: "I think both. Governor Romney put himself in a box, I think, in the primary, by trying to out-conservative some very good conservative candidates, and never really recovered from it."
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today about an elderly woman being denied CPR at an assisted living facility and later dying, pundit Donny Deutsch immediately worried about the health care expense that may have been incurred if the woman had lived: "It's obviously a very sad story, but it really brings up, I think, a larger issue that we've got to get our arms around, that 25% of the health care costs are against people in their last year of their life, the 4 or 5% of people, keeping people alive." [Watch the video after the jump]
Deutsch suggested it was time to shift priorities: "..we maybe need to give hard looks that some of the procedures being done to extend lives six weeks, eight weeks, ten weeks, that maybe that money could go to saving little babies." NBC chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman agreed: "I hope this a national conversation about death and dying." Moments later, she demanded that there be no investigation into the death of the 87-year-old denied CPR: "I'm sorry, I hope this is one time where the lawyers and the police stay the hell out of it."
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today about whether websites should prevent people from commenting anonymously in order to reduce offensive rhetoric, attorney Star Jones made an over-the-top comparison: "I equate it a little bit to what the KKK used to do, in terms of being under the mask....Well, the mask of the web is giving anonymity to these kinds of people, and it's time to take the hoods off." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Fellow pundit Donny Deutsch proclaimed: "I actually think any media outlet that allows that [anonymous comments] is being irresponsible."
In an interview with left-wing MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie used dire language to describe the current budget sequester: "It was supposed to be something that forced both sides to the table, mutually assured destruction. Cuts that were so bad they would never go into effect. Here we are in the sequester era. How does this end?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Maddow responded by turning up the hype even further: "In Prohibition, the government came up with the brilliant idea that to stop people from drinking, they would put poison in industrial alcohol....what they did was poison a lot of people. This [sequester] is the same kind of thing." Guthrie seized on the comparison: "And part of the effect though is this poison, to borrow your metaphor, it's not a poison that kills you overnight. Apparently it's a slow, rolling poison."
Appearing on left-wing actor Alec Baldwin's weekly WNYC talk radio show, Here's The Thing, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams laughably asserted that his reporting was void of any political bias: "My work has been so cleansed, as I see it, and as I've tried, of political opinions over 27 years....I can try to call it down the middle, and try to be fair about it, and do a 'just the facts'..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Throughout the interview, Baldwin gushed over how supposedly objective Williams was: "Although loud personalities with extreme views gobble up more air time, television news is an industry that still rewards unbiased, thoughtful, and direct reporting....many people in your business, you can feel little belches and little fissures of their opinions coming through, or a sense of that, and with you, there's none....I think that's what makes your program so successful. That's why I watch you."
In an interview with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer couldn't understand why the American people didn't buy into the White House and media hype about how devastating the budget sequester would be: "The cuts went into effect Friday night, although they roll out over a long period of time. And yet, I'm surprised there hasn't been more outrage on the part of the general public." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer offered possible explanations: "Do you think that's because people are simply numb to this by now, the dysfunction of Washington, or do you think there's a little case of crying wolf here and they don't believe how severe the impact's going to be?" Bush replied: "Well, there was a lot of crying wolf." Lauer quickly tried to spread the blame to Republicans: "On both sides?" Bush promptly dismissed that notion: "No. I think the President kind of led the charge to say that widows and orphans were going to be out on the street."
Reacting to the contentious exchange between the Obama White House and the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, on Friday's NBC Today, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory saw the conflict as part of a "larger issue": "...the President does not particularly like the Washington press corps. And I think that feeling is mutual in a lot of respects....there's not a great relationship between that Washington establishment and the President." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gregory began by explaining: "All administrations push back hard, especially when they're dealing with a high-octane reporter and a top-notch reporter like Bob Woodward....and that's not a tension that's bad, okay? People should want that out of a press corps..." He then sympathized with White House: "...a lot of the President's advisers are frustrated that they feel they don't get the credit they deserve for the willingness to compromise they see on the President's end, that they do not see reciprocated on the part of Republicans."
One week after Politico declared President Obama to be a "puppet master" for his ability to manipulate media coverage, on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Willie Geist was a willing participant in the string pulling as he conducted a fawning interview with outgoing White House speechwriter Jon Favreau: "[Obama] calls Favreau his mind reader....the departing speechwriter takes us inside his life as the voice of the President."
With a headline on screen declaring "Words That Made History," Geist touted how Favreau "spent the last eight years taking hand scribbled notes...and turning them into soaring speeches for Barack Obama." Geist gushed: "The two have been inseparable writing partners since Favreau joined then-Senator Obama in 2005."
In an exclusive interview with The Washington Post's Bob Woodward on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer belittled the veteran journalist for daring to reveal a contentious exchange with White House adviser Gene Sperling: "I'm a little surprised you've gone public with this. I mean, these kinds of high-energy, high-octane, high-emotion conversations and debates happen all the time between government officials and the people who cover them. You've felt the heat before. Why did you go public with this one?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Keeping up NBC's barrage of attacks against the Catholic Church in the days leading up to Pope Benedict XVI's abdication, on Wednesday's Today, correspondent Anne Thompson made this nasty declaration: "...as one observer said, the stiletto knives came out as the battle for control of this institution begins, that some say is a holy mess....reports of infighting, back stabbing, and political jockeying that could make corporate America or Capitol Hill blush." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Thompson never bothered to identify the "observer" she mentioned nor the origin of the "reports" she cited. Wrapping up the piece, Thompson asked Italian novelist Alessandra Borghese: "Could you make up the drama that's going on inside the Vatican?...You couldn't make this stuff up?"
In a report on Tuesday's NBC Today that only briefly mentioned criticism of First Lady Michelle Obama's appearance during Sunday's Academy Awards, White House correspondent Kristen Welker gushed that people were "still buzzing" over the "Oscar finale that no one saw coming."
Welker described Obama's recent "media blitz": "The First Lady has been popping up all over the place lately, on Jimmy Fallon, sharing a moment with Big Bird...And talking hairdos with Rachel Ray." Welker then cited New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor seeing it as "all a part of a carefully crafted PR plan." A sound bite of Kantor followed: "It's almost as if her real strategy is a kind of charm offensive that is then intended to build support for her husband's initiatives."
Reacting to Chris Christie not being invited to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer melodramatically announced: "...another battle for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today. But this time, he's at odds with the right wing of his own party." The headline on screen throughout the segment read: "Cold Shoulder for Christie; NJ Governor Snubbed By Conservative Conference." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that follow, correspondent Andrea Mitchell eagerly touted Christie's willingness to buck the GOP: "The latest sign that Chris Christie won't kowtow to Republican hardliners, his annual budget speech Tuesday, signing on to ObamaCare..." After describing the "very public snub" from CPAC, Mitchell declared: "...some Republicans see a bigger problem, the party's refusal to broaden its base." A sound bite followed of former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson hyperventilating: "If the Republican future does not include a place for people like Chris Christie, the Republican Party doesn't have a future."
At the top of Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams made this hyperbolic declaration: "A moment of crisis for the Catholic Church hit by a wave of scandals, just as the leaders must gather to select a new pope." Introducing the lead story moments later, Williams further hyped: "The problem for the Catholic Church is the drumbeat of scandal is now growing so loud and so vast, it's taking a lot of attention from this process." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, correspondent Anne Thompson ominously declared: "... the world is seeing the darker side of the Church, the in-fighting and scandals....It's all revealing the sometimes nasty politics behind the pageantry."
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer urged the liberal Today's Professionals pundits to assign blame for the upcoming budget sequester: "I want you to complete the following sentence, 'And the blame goes to...' Almost by every analysis people agree this will hurt the economy, hurt the recovery, might even damage national security. And the blame goes to?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman ranted: "The American public for not being invested enough in the terms of what it means and firing every one of these SOBs the next time it comes around." Advertising executive Donny Deutsch agreed, arguing: "We are a country now of complete non-self sacrifice. You can't blame the politicians. Blame us, because nobody wants to give on anything."
In an effort to hype controversy days before Pope Benedict XVI steps down as the leader of the Catholic Church, on Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Anne Thompson proclaimed: "Even in his final days as pope, scandal continues to dog Benedict's papacy and the Church." The chyron on screen throughout the segment declared: "Vatican Intrigue." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Beyond reporting on an actual controversy surrounding the resignation of Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Thompson decided to also promote completely unfounded claims from the Italian press that "headline rumors of blackmail and conspiracy that the Vatican vehemently denies." NBC went through the effort of displaying and translating one such salacious headline on screen: "Sex and ambition, the blackmailing behind the resignation of Benedict XVI."
Acting like an extension of the White House press office on Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Peter Alexander promoted Obama administration talking points on the upcoming budget sequester: "This morning, the White House is picking up the pace of its PR offensive, they are rolling out reports for each of the country's states and how they will be affected by these automatic budget cuts." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Alexander listed the "dire warnings" coming from the executive branch: "In California, 9,600 low-income students could lose their college financial aid. In Florida, nearly $4 million could be slashed to provide meals for needy seniors. And in Texas, nearly 10,000 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases like whooping cough and the flu."
Appearing on Friday's Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC to discuss the upcoming budget sequestration, Bloomberg View columnist Margaret Carlson touted President Obama's ability "to manipulate some of these cuts so that they're going to hurt and people are going to see them," in order to put pressure on congressional Republicans. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Carlson then proclaimed: "I think we'll start hearing, you know, squeals, when, as [Transportation Secretary] Ray LaHood predicts, you know, we see those first lines at the airport. And it may even hurt, you know, those wealthy Republicans who don't have private jets, when air traffic control and the transportation security lines grow longer."
After dismissing the argument that President Obama was to blame for the sequester as "dumb" on Thursday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, NBC political director Chuck Todd further mocked the notion on Friday's program: "Republicans have been playing, well, an inside game, the inside the Beltway game, trying to build support for their position against the cuts and begging the media to say it's Obama that started the sequester, not them." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On her 1 p.m. et hour MSNBC show on Thursday, host Andrea Mitchell mounted her high horse in condemning Republican senators who questioned defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel about his connection to what turned out to be a fake organization: "Without even checking the factual basis for their questions....You can ask anything and create a sound bite, and then people pick it up in social media, and it's off and running." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
People in glass houses should not throw stones. Mitchell infamously aired a deceptively edited clip of Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential race that made him seem out of touch. In September of 2011, she took Republican House Speaker John Boehner wildly out of context and accused him of being "disrespectful" to President Obama.
Wednesday's NBC Today featured a full report on Tiger Woods praising President Obama's golf game, with White House correspondent Peter Alexander cheering the weekend outing as the "most talked about golf pairing in years" and that Woods "was to golf what the President wants to be to politics, the guy who can't stop winning." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In between clips of Woods, Alexander proclaimed: "And reflecting on their weekend round together, this ruthless competitor admits he was impressed by his presidential partner." After a sound bite of Woods saying Obama could "get to where he's a pretty good stick," Alexander gushed: "In golf-speak, that means the President's got game."
The NBC, ABC, and CBS evening newscasts on Tuesday all recited the same White House talking points as anchors and correspondents wrung their hands over the upcoming sequester budget cuts set to take effect on March 1. While all three broadcasts touted President Obama using "dire language" to warn against the cuts – only amounting to less that three percent of the federal budget – none of them noted that it was the President's idea in the first place. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
At the top of NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams sounded the alarm: "Deep impact....deep budget cuts poised to have a major impact on the military, law enforcement, even food inspection." In the report that followed, correspondent John Yang fretted: "Through 2021, it means cutting $85 billion a year, half from the Pentagon, half from non-defense programs. Everything from education to national parks to Meals on Wheels." Yang failed to mention the current annual federal budget is around $3.5 trillion.
On Tuesday's MSNBC Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough blamed conservative media outlets for recent Republican electoral defeats: "...for conservatives that think they have to stay in their own little media world, since Rush Limbaugh went on the air and became a national figure, Republicans have lost five out of the last six presidential elections in the popular vote. Since Fox News went on the air in 1996, Republicans have lost four out of five." [Listen to the audioor watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Mika Brzezinski snidely chimed in: "Please keep doing what you're doing." Scarborough continued his rant: "So when Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon had to go up against a media culture that absolutely hated them, that despised them, that mocked them, that ran them into the ground every night, and there was no conservative outlet, they won 49 states....But for people that think...they have to stay in this little box, I've got bad news for you. It's not working."
Amid all of the news breaking in Washington, from the upcoming sequester cuts to President Obama's second term agenda, NBC's Today decided to focus its Tuesday political coverage on a scandal that plagued former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford four years ago. The news hook was Sanford running in a GOP primary for the congressional seat left open by newly appointed Senator Tim Scott.
Co-host Savannah Guthrie touted an exclusive interview with the Republican: "Second chance? Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford running again for Congress years after an affair that ended his marriage and made him a political punch line. Will voters forgive and forget? This morning we'll talk to him live."
While new White House chief of staff Denis McDonough was grilled about the Benghazi terrorist attack on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, NBC Meet the Press moderator David Gregory only lobbed a single softball on the scandal, while fill-in host Jonathan Karl ignored the topic all together on ABC's This Week. The White House was unwilling to even allow Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace to interview McDonough.
On Meet the Press, after providing a fawning biographical intro of McDonough, Gregory only briefly touched on Benghazi, hoping the controversy was over: "I've talked to Republican senators, they've wanted to get additional information about what the President did the night of the attack...Has the President finished on the Benghazi matter? Is there anything else he's going to say or anything else he's concluded that should've been done that was not done?"
Following the failure of former Senator Chuck Hagel to receive enough votes in the Senate on Thursday to be confirmed as defense secretary, NBC, ABC, and CBS all immediately turned their ire on Republicans for daring to object to President Obama's appointment.
On Friday's NBC Today, news reader Natalie Morales fretted over the "partisan standoff." In the report that followed, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd mentioned Republican reasons for blocking the nomination, but brushed them aside as he concluded: "Ultimately, Hagel's issues with his former GOP colleagues are personal."
On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams proclaimed that Florida Senator Marco Rubio taking a sip of water during his response to the State of the Union was "the televised moment from last night that just might live on forever." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Williams expounded: "Well, it's one of the cruelest aspects of politics in the television age. No matter how well-crafted the content, no matter how thoughtful a person you are, it's the television moments, the superficial, purely visual moments that are often remembered forever instead. And that will certainly be the case with Florida Senator Marco Rubio's GOP response last night."
In the first part of an interview aired on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer interrogated House Speaker John Boehner over saying President Obama lacked the courage to stand up to his Democratic base: "And by calling the President of the United States out in such harsh terms today, on the day of the State of the Union address....I think a lot of people are going to say, 'Here we go. Same old division. Same old animosity.' Don't they have a right to say that?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Boehner began to reply: "No. Listen, the President and I get along fine...We have a very good relationship." Lauer interrupted: "So this all politics, these questions you raise today?" Boehner continued: "...the American people on election day gave us a mandate, a Republican congress and a Democratic president, and the mandate was to find a way to work together, find common ground."
In an interview with House Speaker John Boehner aired on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer highlighted the Speaker inviting two girls from a Washington D.C. inner city school to the State of the Union address, but rather than focus on the scholarship program Boehner supports, Lauer wondered: "They're your guests. Could you blame them, though, if they're not a little mesmerized by Barack Obama tonight? The nation's first African American president?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Continuing to aggrandize Obama, Lauer went further: "Is he, in your opinion, the most inspirational African American living right now?...You think that's the way these kids will feel when they watch?"
At the top of Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie suggested ulterior motives behind Pope Benedict XIV's abdication: "Vatican intrigue. Is there more to Pope Benedict's sudden decision to step down?" In the report that followed, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel also insinuated something more: "Although there's no evidence to suggest a motive, other than old age, the Pope's unusual departure has left some wondering." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Engel then turned to a random man on the street wearing a fedora, who speculated: "It could be deeper, you know, than what we've been told at the moment." Moments later, Engel provided more anonymous rumors: "Italians say his age and the weight of scandals, especially revelations of sexual abuse by priests, may have gotten to the scholarly Pontiff."