While the NBC and CBS morning shows on Friday both covered troubling Thursday testimony from outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that revealed President Obama's lack of engagement during the Benghazi terrorist attack, ABC's Good Morning America completely ignored the story. In addition, none of the networks mentioned the testimony on their Thursday evening newscasts.
Friday's CBS This Morning provided the most coverage, with a full report by correspondent Nancy Cordes, who explained: "Panetta revealed that he briefed the President at the start of the attack, but the two men did not speak again that night....Republicans say it's a sign that the President was disengaged the night of the attack. Panetta said his aides and the President's were in touch, but he said as well that he did not speak to Secretary Clinton the night of the attack either."
In an interview with Pattie Mallette, mother of pop star Justin Bieber, on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie worried about Mallette's producing role in an upcoming film: "...you wanted to talk about your involvement in a movie called Crescendo....[which] tells the story of Beethoven's mother, who, while she was pregnant, attempted to have an abortion and even attempted suicide....it's a movie with a decidedly pro-life/anti-abortion purpose." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Guthrie invited Mallette to distance herself from that purpose: "But you feel like people, as I understand it, are getting the wrong message about what you are trying to say by your participation?" Mallette replied: "Yeah, I don't feel that it is a pro-life message. I mean, people are going to get from it what they want to. It's just – it's a true story, it's a historical piece." Guthrie pressed further: "Do you feel misled at all by the producers of the film? I mean, if the film has this message and its goal is to – is an anti-abortion message, I mean, are you okay with that? I guess I'm confused about what your position is."
Wrapping up a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie poking fun at his weight during a David Letterman appearance, co-host Willie Geist argued the issue was a major political obstacle to Christie: "I think if he didn't weigh what he weighed right now, he'd be talked about as the shoo-in to be the nominee next time. But that's a real problem that people have to think about if they want to cast a vote for him, is his health." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On NBC's Wednesday Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander wrung his hands over the possibility of sequester budget cuts happening next month: "If you think of the federal budget as a t-bone steak, the sequester is like a butcher's knife loping off a big piece, roughly a trillion dollars worth in defense and domestic spending. What experts call the worst way to deal with a budget." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In contrast, back in February of 2009, when President Obama was pushing the nearly trillion-dollar stimulus package, Today co-host Matt Lauer grilled former Bush advisor Karl Rove about Republicans daring to oppose the massive government spending: "Doesn't it seem that quick and bold action was necessary?...216 Republicans [who voted against the stimulus] seem to have placed a bet on failure. Isn't that safe to say?"
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today about the White House releasing a photo of President Obama skeet shooting to dispel doubt about his claim of doing it "all the time," co-host Matt Lauer worried about the precedent that had been set: "So like releasing the birth certificate a year or so ago, this is the next step, that now the President always has to back up his words with proof?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer's concern seemed to follow administration talking points perfectly. On Sunday's Today, correspondent Peter Alexander reported: "This weekend, the White House tried to shut down the doubters. The President's former senior advisor [David Plouffe] even referred to those who still question where Mr. Obama was born. [Image of Plouffe Tweet] 'Attention, skeet birthers. Make our day – let the photoshop conspiracies begin!'"
On Tuesday's Today, while teasing NBC's third full report on the unfolding scandal surrounding New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: "...we're hearing from [him] this morning for the first time about claims that he was with prostitutes during some overseas trips. Coming up, his emotional response to what he says is a false attack."
In the segment that followed, Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell teed up a series of sound bites of Menendez denying the allegations and attacking those making them: "[He] denied that online story and grew emotional, saying political enemies launched a false attack." Referring to the story that broke on The Daily Caller, Menendez ranted: "...smears that right-wing blogs have been pushing since the election...It's amazing to me that anonymous, nameless, faceless individuals on a website can drive that type of story into the mainstream..."
Marking Hillary Clinton's final day as Secretary of State on Friday's NBC Nightly News, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell gushed: "Clinton's State Department farewell was bittersweet. She took time to tour the building, saying goodbye to cafeteria workers....[her] departure had the energy of a campaign rally. As she left, some women were shouting, '2016.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Saturday's Today, White House correspondent Kristen Welker continued the lovefest, proclaiming that Clinton was "starting a new chapter in her storied life," and noting: "Her journey to secretary of state was somewhat improbable. From the White House's first lady, to the Senate, to a tough campaign against her now-former boss."
In a report at the top of Thursday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Kevin Tibbles fretted that "Despite bylaws that prohibit gun shops within city limits...Chicago appears to be awash in guns." A sentiment that echoed ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer, who on Wednesday announced to viewers that the whole nation was "awash in guns." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The declaration from Tibbles teed up gun control advocate and UCLA law professor Adam Winkler to claim that the problem with Chicago's gun restrictions was that they were not universal: "Chicago certainly has strict gun control laws. But the difficulty is that outlying areas outside of Chicago and in other states, neighboring Illinois, don't have strict gun control laws, and the guns easily flow into Chicago because of that."
In an interview with Al Gore aired on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Andrea Mitchell treated the former Vice President like a climate change prophet: "Floods. Fires. Historic drought. Some of the dire consequences Al Gore warns about if we don't act on climate change. Do we still have time?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gore replied: "...the worst of it can still be avoided. But we do need to act quickly." He then applauded President Obama for prominently mentioning the issue in his inaugural address, prompting Mitchell to lament: "But Gore has been disappointed before. 2008 campaign promises on climate change were trumped by the economic crisis and died in the Senate."
During a panel discussion on Wednesday's NBC Today, the morning show's regular liberal pundits had a panic attack over Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke putting out a radio ad calling on local citizens to "Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself." Chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman was aghast: "This is so irresponsible it's dangerous." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Attorney Star Jones chimed in: "I think it's so irresponsible." Snyderman accused the Sheriff of advocating "vigilantism" and ranted: "I don't hear anything in there about safety. It's, 'Arm yourself, the cops won't be there.' Terrible." Advertising executive Donny Deutsch went so far as to suggest that a police officer suggesting people exercise their Second Amendment rights should be illegal: "I'm surprised legally they were able to run that ad." Jones, the supposed legal expert on the panel, agreed: "I'm absolutely surprised that's legal for him to even say."
The headline NBC chose promote from chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell's Tuesday interview with outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was that Clinton really couldn't accomplish much given the situation she "inherited" from the Bush administration, with Nightly News anchor Brian Williams proclaiming: "...[Clinton] said, among other things, it's tougher these days to pull off the sweeping diplomatic achievements of the old days." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Wednesday's Today, Mitchell parroted Clinton's talking points: "Clinton told me that it is hard for her to imagine waking up next week with no place to go, after four years and almost a million miles circling the globe. Hillary Clinton said the traditional way of doing diplomacy was not good enough for the crisis the Obama team inherited."
After initially hitting Al Gore from the left for global warming "hypocrisy" during an interview on Tuesday's NBC Today, in the second part of that interview later on the broadcast, co-host Matt Lauer praised the former Vice President for having "never shied away from the very tough issues" and wondered: "After years of calling people's attention to this issue, and now we've seen Superstorm Sandy and tornadoes and drought and extreme temperatures, do you feel vindicated?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gore somberly replied: "Well, I wish that I had been wrong. And I wish that the scientists whose message I was carrying had been wrong. It's not about me. It's about us and what we do to safeguard our future." In the first part of the interview, Gore eagerly used such disasters to promote the cause: "Today is the three-month anniversary of Superstorm Sandy....These storms, it's like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation on the news every day now."
Talking to Heritage Foundation president and former Republican Senator Jim DeMint on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory eagerly cited recent criticism of the GOP: "Colin Powell on this program a couple of weeks ago talking about a deep vein of intolerance within the Republican Party. How do you respond to that as you take a look at where the party needs to go?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
DeMint refused to give credence to the accusation, instead focusing on the issues of debt reduction and economic growth. However, Gregory refused to the let the topic go: "Senator, do you regret, you know, some of the comments about abortion in this last cycle, about rape, about again, what Colin Powell thought were veiled racist comments from the party?" At no point did Gregory provide a single example of GOP "intolerance" to back up the smear.
In an interview with former Vice President Al Gore on Tuesday's Today, co-host Matt Lauer fretted over the "hypocrisy" of the global warming crusader selling his news channel Current TV to the oil-funded Al Jazeera network. However, Lauer completely ignored the Arab news organization's history of anti-Americanism and promotion of Islamic fundamentalism. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
When Lauer questioned Gore about selling Current to Al Jazeera for $500 million, Gore declared: "I'm very pleased that Al Jazeera has established itself as a really respected news-gathering network." Rather than challenge that assertion, the only criticism of the network Lauer could think of was this: "But if they get funding from a country that has – that bases its wealth on fossil fuels, and fossil fuels are the enemy you target in climate change, isn't there a bit of hypocrisy in that?"
After gushing coverage on Monday's NBC Today over Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton "finishing one another's sentences" in a joint interview, a four-minute panel discussion at the top of the morning show's 9 a.m. et hour was devoted to the topic as well, with co-host Tamron Hall declaring: "I was looking at the body language a lot, other than the words, and they leaned in together...both leaning in like, 'I got your back and I'll be voting for you.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Monday's NBC Today was quick to seize on Sarah Palin ending her tenure as a contributor for Fox News, with correspondent Kelly O'Donnell announcing: "Sarah Palin has people guessing again this morning...After a breakup that seemed unlikely between the former governor and her conservative home at Fox News."
O'Donnell remarked that Palin had "carved out an unusual space, at the intersection of politics, celebrity, and pop culture," followed by a clip of comedian Tina Fey mocking the former Republican vice presidential candidate. O'Donnell then observed that "Palin's main gig is over."
Following the friendly chat President Obama and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had with CBS's Steve Kroft on Sunday's 60 Minutes, NBC's reporters could barely contain their glee over the duo getting along so well, with correspondent Peter Alexander proclaiming on Monday's Today: "There they were, side-by-side, at times chuckling together, it seemed even finishing one another's sentences." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Alexander fawned over Obama and Clinton repeatedly patting each other on the back during the self-promotional interview: "The President said he simply wanted to thank Hillary Clinton for being what he called one of the finest secretaries of state we have ever had. But the mutual gushing did not end there....the bitter rivals turned partners showed just how far their relationship's evolved. The President lavishing Clinton with praise for her discipline, stamina, and thoughtfulness."
During fawning reports on Thursday's NBC Nightly News and Friday's Today, the network's news personalities expressed thrill over the discovery of a collection of JFK memorabilia once owned by Kennedy aide Dave Powers, with anchor Brian Williams raving: "It's an intimate collection of time spent with the President of the United states and his family. It's the kind of memorabilia only a close friend would have. And it shows a man, our president, up close." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
What the coverage failed to mention was the recent shocking revelation by former White House intern and Kennedy mistress Mimi Alford that the late President once pressured her to perform oral sex on Powers during one their trysts. The omission was particularly surprising since Alford recalled the incident in an exclusive interview with Meredith Vieira aired on NBC's Rock Center in February of 2012.
On their evening and morning news shows on Thursday and Friday, NBC and CBS were quick to tout Democratic efforts to reimpose an assault weapons ban, with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams proclaiming the move to be "the latest step in the ongoing response to the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings."
On CBS Evening News, correspondent Nancy Cordes described the scene as the legislation was announced on Thursday: "Flanked by police officers, doctors, and mayors, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California made her case today for banning the types of weapons used to carry out mass shootings." Cordes further highlighted the stagecraft: "Feinstein also asked half a dozen gun victims to share their stories, to give the measure a human face. Lilly Habtu was shot three times at Virginia Tech."
At the top of the 9 a.m. et hour on Thursday's NBC Today, the morning show cast devoted a four-minute panel discussion to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton getting emotional during her congressional testimony on Wednesday. News reader Natalie Morales gushed: "She was speaking passionately about, you know, that heat of the moment. And also, you know, I think she just loved those people [who died in Benghazi]. So that was true emotion." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Savannah Guthrie observed: "I don't know if there's as much a stigma anymore from public figures crying from time-to-time. I mean, this is not somebody who is crying all the time. We've seen her well up in the past. I think this is probably the most emotional we've ever seen her." Morales proclaimed: "Right, she's a strong leader."
At the top of Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie hyped Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's performance during congressional testimony on Wednesday: "Vigorous defense. A fired up Hillary Clinton takes on her critics during her testimony about the terror attacks in Benghazi." Introducing a later report, Guthrie described it as "an emotional and at times heated appearance before Congress." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell decried "the hostile interrogation that Republican committee members gave Clinton over Benghazi." The headline on screen throughout the segment declared: "'It's Personal'; Clinton Gets Emotional During Benghazi Hearings."
During a panel discussion on Wednesday's NBC Today, attorney Star Jones and the network's chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman hyperventilated over Britain's Prince Harry revealing in interviews that he killed Taliban fighters during combat in Afghanistan. Jones fretted: "Why do you need to antagonize the Taliban?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, White House correspondent Kristen Welker touted President Obama gearing up for his second term: "An invigorated President Obama joined in a prayer service this morning....On Monday, resolve, defending entitlements and calling for action on climate change and gay rights, a broad liberal agenda."
Welker then heralded Obama appeasing the Democratic base in his inaugural address: "The President, once criticized by his own party's left for caving into Republicans, seemed emboldened by his reelection and ready for a fight." A sound bite followed of Time's Michael Duffy happily declaring: "Yesterday's speech at the Capitol was not about bipartisanship. It was about the agenda that Barack Obama, a Democrat, the direction he wants to take the country. Republicans can come along if they'd like."
Wrapping up a report on Wednesday's NBC Today about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's upcoming congressional testimony on the Benghazi terrorist attack, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell sympathetically observed: "It will be a grueling day, first in the Senate, then in the House. Not how the Secretary of State had planned to wind up what is widely viewed as a stellar term as the nation's top diplomat." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
At the top of the segment, Mitchell seemed to lament that Clinton would have to endure such questioning after recent health problems: "The Secretary of State has had to deal with a serious illness, amidst swirling and discredited conspiracy theories, but is now finally able to answer questions about security failures in Benghazi. After a fall, a concussion, and a blood clot, Hillary Clinton will face questions today Republicans have wanted to ask for months."
After shouting like an excited groupie at President Obama and Vice President Biden during NBC live coverage of Monday's inaugural parade, weatherman Al Roker reflected on the incident during Tuesday's Today: "To be acknowledged by the President, a handshake from the Vice President on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I think, was pretty special....I was thinking about my folks and they were looking down, and I think pretty pleased." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Like one of President Obama's adoring fans camped out along the inaugural parade route on Monday, during live MSNBC coverage of the event, NBC Today weatherman Al Roker excitedly yelled at Obama and later Vice President Biden to get their attention as they walked by. His hard-hitting question to the President of the United States: "Is the weather good?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In an exchange with former Secretary of State and prominent Obama supporter Colin Powell during NBC's live inauguration coverage on Monday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams urged Powell to go after Republicans: "General, there's just flat-out hatred out there, too. There's nastiness out there in the land. There's nastiness between these two parties....Let's especially go to the Republican Party....What do they do to widen, if it is in their interest, widen their doorway to membership, to entry?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
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."
When Barack Obama was inaugurated 44th President of the United States in January of 2009, his adoring fans in the media could not contain their elation as they reported on the event. As President Obama prepares to be sworn in for a second term, here is a look back at just how thrilled they were last time around. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Thursday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams took time out of the broadcast to provide this supposed "news" update: "First Lady Michelle Obama turned 49 today. But the big news came as the First Lady's office inaugurated a Twitter account and sent out this picture showing the First Lady's new bangs. Which Vanity Fair's website instantly praised, calling them 'featherly,' and tracing their lineage in hair terms to Brigitte Bardot." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Coverage of the grooming development continued on Friday's Today as White House correspondent Kristen Welker proclaimed: "The buzz over her bangs was immediate. People magazine tweeted: 'Guess who's turning 49 with bangs? Yep. bday girl @michelleobama debuted a fab new cut.' Vanity Fair also weighed in, remarking, 'There's just no other way to put this – got bangs.'"