In a report for Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Andrea Mitchell smeared the National Rifle Association as a group benefitting from tragedy: "Even as America was shaken by the horror of Newtown, the NRA escalated its rhetoric, claiming to add more than 100,000 new members, and taking a no-compromise stand....the NRA is raising money, e-mailing supporters to upgrade their membership for what it calls, 'the fight of the century.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the middle of the segment, a brief exchange was shown between Mitchell and NRA president David Keene. Mitchell quoted a fundraising email from the gun rights organization warning of President Obama's pursuit of gun restrictions and wondered: "Are they trying to scare gun owners?" Keene replied: "We're not scaring them. We're not saying that your rights are at risk. The President of the United States is saying that."
At the top of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams enthusiastically touted President Obama playing offense on gun regulations: "Fighting back. President Obama is out with his plan on gun control, the most sweeping in generations. As the NRA uses the President's own daughters in an attack ad."
Moments later, Williams framed the debate this way: "President Obama came out with his proposals for the most sweeping gun control measures in many years. The National Rifle Association launched a preemptive strike against it. It involved the President's family, in part. But this time they may have some formidable opposition to their position."
In a contentious exchange with Eric Pratt of Gun Owners of America on her Wednesday MSNBC show, host Andrea Mitchell declared that Constitutional rights, like the right to bear arms, were more like suggestions: "Well, they can be infringed, because the First Amendment is infringed, I have to obey all sorts of regulations from the FCC, there are things we can't say in a crowded theater, so every right also carries with it responsibilities and obligations." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
That was in response to Pratt explaining: "...a very important concept of inalienable rights, because whether it's the right to vote, right to sit behind a microphone, or the right to choose how I'm going to protect myself, all those rights cannot be infringed, as the Second Amendment says."
As MediaBistro's TVNewser blog noticed on Wednesday, an image of NBC Meet the Press moderator David Gregory was featured in the newly released ad by the National Rifle Association, labeling him to be one of several "elitist hypocrites" on the gun control issue. [Watch video of the ad after the jump]
At the top of Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer hyperventilated over a newly released ad from the National Rifle Association pointing out the hypocrisy of President Obama on gun control: "Getting personal. The National Rifle Association out with a powerful new ad this morning, bringing the President's family into the gun debate." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The ad in question simply noted that Obama's daughters were protected in school by armed guards while the President was pushing for gun restrictions. Introducing a report on the ad, co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed that it "gets very personal." Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd followed: "...the NRA is signaling it intends to fight the President, and it's using this new web video that hits close to home, targeting his daughters."
In part two of an interview with liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie wondered: "Your mom fell in love again late in life....Do you ever wonder if that might happen for you?...Where do you take a Supreme Court justice on a date?"
In the first part of the exchange aired on Monday, Guthrie asked about the role of the Court, on Tuesday, it was all about promoting Sotomayor's memoir, My Beloved World. Guthrie asked about the Justice's childhood and narrated: "Here, from the church she once attended with her aunt, to the library where she voraciously gobbled up books, the future Supreme Court justice was cultivating a love of the law from two unlikely legal influences: Nancy Drew and Perry Mason."
On Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer eagerly touted special correspondent Chelsea Clinton being a part of the festivities leading up to President Obama's inauguration: "She's going to talk about an important role that she is playing in President Obama's second inaugural, something I know she would like you to get involved in." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Before talking to Clinton about the upcoming event, Lauer explained: "President Obama will kick off his inauguration weekend on Saturday with a National Day of Service....the Obamas and Bidens will attend a service fair on the National Mall....NBC's special correspondent Chelsea Clinton is the honorary chair of that event."
Serving as President Obama's stenographer on Monday's NBC Nightly News, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd eagerly touted the President hammering Republicans on the debt ceiling during a midday press conference: "And with Washington once again careening toward a fiscal crisis...the President made it clear he intends to stand firm....[He] acknowledged Republicans could end up shutting down the government if he doesn't yield on spending cuts. But he warned against it." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
During the final press conference of Obama's first term, Todd urged the President to follow the recommendations of fellow Democrats and unilaterally raise the nation's debt limit without congressional approval: "Harry Reid sent you a letter, begging you, essentially, to take – consider some sort of executive action on this debt ceiling issue....Jim Clyburn asked you to use the 14th Amendment....He brought up the Emancipation Proclamation...he compared the debt ceiling to that. So are you considering a plan 'B'? And if not, why not?"
Shortly after former Secretary of State Colin Powell attacked the Republican Party for having a supposed "dark vein of intolerance," on Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory seized on the smear as he encouraged the show's panel to comment. The discussion that followed was devoid of any criticism of Powell's remarks. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gregory began by grilling former Republican Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour: "I thought that was striking, some of General Powell's comments, particularly about the Republican Party....He talks about a deep vein of intolerance within the Party. How did that sit with you?" Barbour called Powell a "friend" but added that "we don't see everything the same way." He then noted the demographic disadvantage for the GOP in the 2012 election.
Interviewing Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor about her new memoir on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie worried that political division was undermining the high court: "Do you think that it's bad for the credibility of the Court as an institution if people have the perception that it is splitting along partisan or ideological lines?"
Sotomayor countered: "Yes. If I believed that that was the reason for the split, which I don't. The fact that there's a circuit split makes it clear that there are different ways of looking at the situation and that the answer is not a slam dunk." In response, Guthrie argued that "so-called liberals" take one side of a case, while the "conservative ideological bloc" takes the other.
For three consecutive nights on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams proclaimed the country to now be in the "post-Newtown era," as he and reporters promoted how "the White House prepares its battle plan" to push for more gun control following the school shooting. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Tuesday, Williams kicked off the coverage by describing how "in our post-Newtown era," the Obama administration was "gearing up for a fight on this issue." In the report that followed, correspondent Ron Mott touted "a growing chorus of calls around the country for gun restrictions, in the wake of a spike in gun-related murders in cities like Chicago and Detroit and last month's tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut."
In an interview with National Rifle Association president David Keene on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer wondered: "Do you have the support in Congress to block any federal ban on assault weapons in the coming year?...How close do you think Congress can get on that?" He then speculated: "People talk about the power of the NRA. They look at it almost, you know, in monumental terms. Do you think in the wake of these shootings that power has been eroded at all, Mr. Keene?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Keene rejected the framing of Lauer's question and explained: "Americans who believe strongly in the Second Amendment, and their right to own privately and use firearms for legitimate purposes, is a huge number of people who really care about these issues....it's not the power of the NRA, Matt. What it is, is the strength of belief among millions of Americans in their right under the Constitution to privately own firearms."
During a panel discussion on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Willie Geist touted an online White House petition to get Vice President Joe Biden his own reality show. Panelist and left-wing MSNBC host Alex Wagner raved: "Incredible idea, can I be the cameraman?...he's the most entertaining man in politics." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Wagner continued to gush over the gaffe-prone VP: "He says stuff off-the-cuff, he pushes the envelope....Joe Biden is an incredible figure in American politics. He has pushed the President to embrace gay marriage, inadvertently. He has these moments of color and humor. He's also killer, I mean he was the one that went in and cleaned up the entire fiscal cliff deal at the very last minute."
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appeared on all three network morning shows on Wednesday and was greeted in each interview by the host seizing on his harsh words for congressional Republicans over a delayed vote on Hurricane Sandy relief. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: "You're not happy, it seems, with the course of the Republican Party right now. You blasted some Republicans in Congress last week after their inaction over Hurricane Sandy. You said they showed 'callous indifference, selfishness, duplicity,' they were, 'practicing toxic politics.' Strong letter to follow. Those aren't the words of a guy who's happy with his party."
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today, chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman voiced her support for a New York newspaper, The Journal News, publishing a list of addresses of local gun owners: "You have these sort of blind assumptions that when your child goes over to play with another kid, he or she is going to be safe. And I think that has been now negated. So I have no problem....we're not outing child molesters, this is a legal transaction, it's a public transaction." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Snyderman's declaration was prompted by fellow panelist, advertising executive Donny Deutsch, also standing by the paper's controversial action: "I think it's a great idea, I'll tell you why. I've got two little girls at home and I would like to know if they're going on a play date in a house where there's a gun....when you have a gun, you are setting yourself up as somebody different. It's your choice..."
All three network evening newscasts on Monday found time to tout Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's return to work after hospitalization for a blood clot, "clearly enjoying a prank gift" from her staff and being greeted by a "standing ovation."
NBC's Nightly News devoted a full report to the development, with anchor Brian Williams declaring: "...we got our first official look at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton since she emerged from the hospital. It came in the form of some still photos of her first day back at work, a view of her carefully managed by her team after a tough couple of weeks."
In an interview with retired General Stanley McChrystal on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer grilled the former Afghanistan commander on his resignation following criticism of President Obama in a 2010 Rolling Stone article: "There were several demeaning quotes attributed to your staff members, even to you, about the President and about key members of his staff....Was he [Obama] furious about what had come out in that Rolling Stone magazine? Did he express displeasure with you?"
While McChrystal was supposedly on to promote his memoir, My Share of the Task, Lauer spent nearly the entire exchange harping on the two-year-old personal drama between the General and Obama: "Did you distrust the people at the White House? Did you distrust key members of the Obama administration when it came to their policy in dealing with Afghanistan?...Did you distrust the President and key members of the administration in terms of their handling of the war in Afghanistan?"
Exactly three years ago, on January 7, 2010, during a press conference regarding the 2009 attempted bombing of an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan declared to reporters: "I told the President today I let him down." That admission of responsibility for a major intelligence failure was completely absent from Monday's network morning show coverage of President Obama nominating Brennan to be CIA director.
While NBC, CBS, and ABC focused much of their attention on the President's nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense and the likely confirmation fight that would result, Brennan's nomination was only a brief side note.
Following Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's hospitalization this week for a blood clot, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell took to Friday's NBC Today to praise Clinton and her daughter Chelsea (who happens to be a special correspondent for NBC): "They may be the most recognizable mother/daughter duo in America....The indefatigable Hillary Clinton in a picture shown round the world, leaving the hospital Wednesday, hand in hand with Chelsea."
Mitchell, who has already provided fawning coverage of a potential Hillary presidential run in 2016, gushed over mother and daughter: "The special bond between Hillary Clinton and her only child has always been obvious. As a White House teenager, Chelsea often accompanied her mom on official trips....Chelsea became a valuable surrogate for her mother in the 2008 campaign."
At the top of Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer gushed over Vice President Biden doing a series of photo-ops while swearing in newly elected senators on Thursday: "Joe Biden welcomes lawmakers and their families to Washington like only he can." In a later report, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell glossed over several awkward moments caused by Biden: "There was certainly a lot of charm being poured on by the Vice President." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
A few minutes later, fill-in news reader Willie Geist played a brief montage of some of the especially odd comments by Biden, including the Vice President telling the husband of one senator, "Spread your legs; you're going to be frisked," and declaring after looking a woman up and down, "holy mackerel."
Despite John Boehner receiving overwhelming support from the Republican caucus to be reelected as Speaker of the House, NBC Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell hyped dissension in the ranks on Friday's NBC Today: "After a turbulent few weeks of setbacks that had cast doubt on his power and influence, a dozen rebellious conservatives turned against him, but Boehner had enough votes."
On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, O'Donnell proclaimed: "John Boehner's path to a second term as Speaker of the House has been rocky. But there was no challenge, only a handful of conservatives voted against him." That morning, Today co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed a "civil war" among Republicans over a Hurricane Sandy relief bill.
In a pair of back-to-back stories leading off Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, House Republicans were painted as villains for briefly delaying a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief. First, Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell declared: "Stunned Democrats and Republicans could not believe that their hometown suffering could be ignored."
In the next report, correspondent Anne Thompson decried the move: "Where the reminders of Sandy are still all too vivid, today frustration turned to fury....the House of Representatives' failure to vote is just one more body blow."
At the top of Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer teased an upcoming interview with New York Congressman Peter King by seizing on House GOP disagreement over when to schedule a vote on a Hurricane Sandy relief bill: "...fresh off the fiscal cliff fight, the Republican Party appears in the throes of a civil war. This morning, we'll talk to an outspoken GOP congressman who urged voters in his district not contribute to Republican campaigns." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the exchange that followed, Lauer eagerly quoted King: "You said that Speaker Boehner had a, quote, 'Dismissive and cavalier attitude toward New York and New Jersey.' And you went further, you said, 'Republicans have no trouble finding New York when it comes to raising money. And I would just say to anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to Congressional Republicans after this should have their head examined.'"
After worrying on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News about possible House GOP "shenanigans" preventing a fiscal cliff deal, on Monday's Today, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd breathed a sign of relief: "...this 112th Congress does leave us today, and some people say finally leaves us today....it began with a threat of a government shutdown just two months into this congress. And then, of course, we had the debt ceiling showdown. Then it culminated with this fiscal cliff..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Picking up on Todd's rant against Congress, co-host Matt Lauer eagerly quoted New York Times columnist David Brooks: "If Congress couldn't make a single tough decision under these circumstances, why should we think it'll make any further down the road? More likely, there will just be more squabbling and brinkmanship, more posturing and punting, which could not only poison future budget talks, but also prospects for immigration reform, tax reform, gun control and many other projects."
Neither Todd nor Lauer laid any blame on President Obama for the contentious atmosphere in Washington.
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, hours before the House of Representatives approved a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd wrung his hands over Republican opposition to the lopsided legislation that increased taxes and offered no spending cuts: "I think we're in the last throes of sort of the typical theatrics that have become the norm for Washington over the last couple of years. And there is going to be a few more shenanigans before the night is over." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
That was in response to fill-in anchor Kate Snow observing: "There are some voices out there saying, 'Good for the House Republicans, they're standing on their principles.' But there are also a lot of voices saying, 'How much longer is this going to take?'" Todd lamented: "Well, it may be a new year but old habits are dying hard with this congress." He reiterated: "It could be a real mess. But I do think we're in the last throes of sort of the Washington shenanigans."
During a segment on Monday's NBC Nightly News supposedly devoted to tackling the issue of mental health in the wake of the Newtown school shooting, NBC chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman instead used the opportunity to tout more anti-gun rhetoric: "One person who we spoke with....and I'm going to quote him, he says, 'It's easier to get an assault rifle today in the United States than it is to get adequate mental health care, and that's wrong.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Snyderman followed the provocative statement by declaring: "And I think, speaking on behalf of parents like you and me and American citizens, you cannot disagree with that statement, Brian." Anchor Brian Williams replied: "That's a heck of a powerful quote."
On Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams was eager to seize on any perceived momentum for greater gun control in the wake of Friday's school shooting: "The President said he would use the power of his office to prevent more gun tragedies, and tonight he is being joined by a growing number of prominent voices."
In the report that followed, correspondent Tom Costello listed some of those voices. While pro-gun Democratic senators like Joe Manchin and Mark Warner were noteworthy, Costello attempted to pad the list with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a longtime anti-gun activist. To create the appearance of bipartisanship, Costello even threw in MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, who he pointed out was a "former Republican Congressman." On Thursday's Today, he went so far as to label Scarborough an "influential Republican."
The NBC, ABC, and CBS morning shows on Monday all touted President Obama seemingly calling for more gun control during a Sunday night vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. NBC's Today provided the most hype as correspondent Lester Holt proclaimed: "While he offered words of comfort, he also laid down a political gauntlet....sketching the outlines of what amounted to a policy statement on gun violence."
Holt acknowledged: "He did not utter the words 'gun control,' but his message could set the stage for such a debate." Speaking to co-host Savannah Guthrie later on the broadcast, Holt observed: "He didn't talk specifics, Savannah. But you got the sense that he was laying down a political gauntlet, saying perhaps it's time now to look at this issue of gun violence from all perspectives, political risks laid to the side." Guthrie replied: "Well, we'll see what happens when lawmakers get started in January with the new term."
In an exclusive interview on Thursday's NBC Rock Center with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice following her withdrawal of her name to be secretary of state, host Brian Williams worked to portray her as a victim of unwarranted political attacks: "She's been under withering attack for weeks....Were you set up? Were you a victim of circumstance? Bad data? Bad information?...Are you blameless in all this?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Referring to her Sunday show statements on the Benghazi attack, Rice responded: "I'm not a victim. I wasn't set up....I don't think anybody is ever wholly blameless, but I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't mislead. I didn't misrepresent. I did the best with the information the United States government had at the time."
Moments after news broke of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrawing her name from consideration to be secretary of state, NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd appeared on MSNBC's Martin Bashir to denounce those he deemed responsible: "It was all driven, in many cases, by some conservative outlets who were making her the center of the Benghazi story....[which] never made a lot of sense. She sort of became a victim of this." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Left-wing host Bashir teed up Todd by reciting Rice's resume and declaring her to be "amply qualified" for the cabinet post, but that "so much of the criticism of her seemed to suggest that she was not, and that was dressed up under the guise of these attacks following what happened in Benghazi" Todd lamented that Rice not having a "full PR team" meant she "was more susceptible to this type of where one story where she could become the victim of these attacks very quickly, it could take hold."