On Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer wrung his hands over Congress, particularly Republicans, not yet reaching a budget deal to end the government shutdown: "...the Tea Party seems very much dug in here. Both sides seem dug in." Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd responded by removing the criticism of "both sides": "You're right, the Tea Party side of this is dug in." [Watch the video after the jump]
Despite them being so "dug in," Todd hoped for "good news" of Republican surrender: "House Republicans, they seem to be dropping the health care thing. The question is whether the Tea Party folks will be okay with that. I don't think they will, but it does feel like the leadership of the Republican Party is trying to get away from it. And if they do, then we'll actually see an end game here."
[***UPDATED*** 17:30 ET: More analysis and full transcript added]
Appearing on Andrea Mitchell's MSNBC 1 p.m. ET hour show on Tuesday, Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy slammed the press for not doing its job in pointing out the hypocrisy of ObamaCare being delayed for certain groups but not for all Americans: "...the media won't even ask the question about, 'Why are you [the Obama administration] treating families different than big businesses?'...That's how pathetic, I think, news reporting has become, when we won't ask tough questions to the administration." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
That response was prompted by Mitchell ranting that Republican calls for a one-year delay of the ObamaCare individual mandate was a "non-negotiable demand." Moments later, after Duffy explained that the GOP has "been incredibly reasonable, making a small ask," Mitchell was aghast: "Do you consider it a small ask that he [Obama] get rid of the central part of his health care plan that was upheld by a – by the vote of a presidential election, and the United States Supreme Court." Duffy replied: "Andrea, hold on. That's your spin." Mitchell laughably asserted: "That's not spin."
On Monday, the hosts of NBC's Today eagerly played clips of Saturday Night Live bashing Republicans over the government shutdown. In the morning show's 7 a.m. ET half hour, fill-in co-host Tamron Hall played a clip of SNL host Miley Cyrus doing a parody music video blaming the GOP for the shutdown and gushed: "I think she [Cyrus] might become a member of the five-timers club. You know, the group of hosts who've hosted five times." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
At the top of the 9 a.m. ET hour, co-host Willie Geist touted: "7th day now of the shutdown. Let's look at the bright side, the SNL side, how they handled it....Weekend Update...had an interesting take on the shutdown's winners and losers." A clip played of SNL cast member Seth Myers ranting: "Loser, John Boehner. I feel sorry for you buddy. It's exhausting watching you trying to maintain your dignity while wrangling those Tea Party maniacs. You're like Seinfeld if they're were 30 Kramers."
In a dramatically one-sided report on Monday's NBC Today about the government shutdown, White House correspondent Peter Alexander declared: "President Obama is sticking to his guns, demanding Republicans end the shutdown by passing a so-called 'clean C.R.,' a budget extension without any changes to the President's health care law." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
After a brief sound bite of Speaker John Boehner explaining that such a bill could not pass the Republican-controlled House, Alexander offered more administration spin: "The White House is challenging Boehner to put that to a test. And a pro-Obama group is accusing the GOP of being irresponsible."
On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams introduced a full report on cancer research at the National Institutes of Health being stopped under the government shutdown: "And there are the millions who are feeling the impact of this shutdown very close to home and across this country, including some for whom this standoff feels very much like a matter of life and death for them."
In the story that followed, correspondent Tom Costello declared: "The NIH funds research nationwide. At its headquarters, a lack of funding means 200 patients, including 30 children, each week will be turned away from clinical studies." What he failed to mention was that congressional Republicans proposed a bill to provide the needed funding, but were rebuffed by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Appearing on CBS's Late Show on Thursday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams ranted to liberal host David Letterman about Republicans in Congress being to blame for the government shutdown: "It's about a small – they've been called the suicide caucus in the U.S. House, about 80 members.....right now they have a hold on the House of Representatives....because of this caucus, this cabal, nothing moves." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Letterman was eager to join in bashing the GOP: "If we wanted to blame someone....Would it be crazy Ted Cruz? Would it be – can we blame him for this?" Williams replied: "Ted Cruz is the leader of a lot of this."
In an effort to insulate President Obama from criticism during the government shutdown and focus all blame on members of Congress, NBC's Today created the Twitter topic #DearCongress to provide "a forum for you to vent." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
After urging viewers on Tuesday to use the hastag in their anti-Congress tweets, on Wednesday, the hosts of the network morning touted the success of the effort. Co-host Savannah Guthrie announced "growing public outrage on day two of the government shutdown." In a report that followed, White House correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed: "Across the country, a growing chorus of frustration....Americans stepping up to the mic under the #DearCongress, that launched...here on Today."
In an exclusive interview with President Obama on Wednesday, CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood lobbed this softball on the political fallout of the government shutdown: "Before the election last year, you said you thought there was a possibility your re-election would break the fever within the Republican Party. Didn't happen. Do you see this moment as a chance, through this political confrontation, to break the fever now?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
After the President proceeded to blame Republicans in Congress for the shutdown, Harwood actually challenged Obama on his attacks on the GOP: "I wonder about your tone lately. I have heard from you an increasing amount of exasperation, an edge, even mockery sometimes....And it gives the impression that you think that your Republican opponents are either craven or stupid or nuts. Is that what you think? And if you think so, does it help your cause to let people see that out loud?"
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams sneered that the government shutdown was "being driven by a committed core of Republican members of Congress who are all but assured of re-election in their districts, and just can't be conservative enough for many of the folks back home." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd joined Williams in blaming the GOP for the budget showdown: "You know, these Tea Party conservatives helped propel Republicans to take control of the House in 2010. And these conservatives, they are the engine behind this current standoff now."
On Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Carson Daly turned to a woman on the Today show plaza for her reaction to the government shutdown. "Judy from Chicago" proceeded to bash Republicans and praise President Obama: "I think all of this amounts to is the Republicans are against President Obama. They don't want the President to be successful. I think he is the best president we have had in a very long time." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
She continued: "I think they need to work together. They knew for a long time this was coming to this. How about they don't receive any paychecks, just like everyone else?" Daly agreed: "Right. That's good thoughts. Thank you, Judy."
Appearing on Tuesday's NBC Today, MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews dismissed Republican attempts to delay ObamaCare as a futile effort: "The President was elected – reelected again. He won this fight over health care....the President will not give up his baby, and I think they know that. That's why this is a scary fight. They've gone to ask Obama to give them something he can't give them, which is his health care bill." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Matthews also ranted about Republican members of Congress having strong political support in their districts: "230 congressional districts are Republican. They voted against this President, they voted for a Republican congressmen. Those congress people, men and women, can't be defeated on this issue. They know they can fight to the death on this....[the President] can't stop those people because they're unbeatable in their districts."
On Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie acknowledged the liberal spin that congressional Republicans were punished electorally after the 1995 government shutdown was more a matter of faith than fact: "I mean, for 17 years it's been an article of faith that Republicans paid at the polls after the shutdown in the 90s. But these new House Republicans aren't so sure that's true." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
That observation was in response to chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd declaring: "...while there are that small band of loud conservatives who are wanting to, you know, not cave, not give in to anything, do whatever it takes to stop the health care law, there is a growing chorus of moderate Republicans who are telling Boehner, 'Don't do this. You remember how bad this was for the Republican Party 20 years ago. What are you doing? You're putting the majority at risk.'"
In an interview with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer urged Republicans to abandon their opposition to ObamaCare in order to avoid a government shutdown: "By the latest count, there have been something like 40 efforts in the House to either get rid of ObamaCare or defund it. And yet, as John McCain said last week...'We lost that fight.' The Supreme Court has upheld ObamaCare as constitutional. Do you think the Republicans should move on?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
O'Reilly flatly rejected the idea: "No. It's a bad deal for the folks. That's absurd, why would they move on?" Lauer interjected: "It's law of the land, though." O'Reilly continued: "They can tweak it and make it better. Right now it's hurting the economy. Doctors say they're going to quit. Nobody knows what they're gonna pay."
At the top of Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams issued a dire warning to viewers about the possibility of a government shutdown: "Time running out until a big deadline, now days away, and it's getting ugly in Washington. Tonight, can anything be done to save our government from itself?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Introducing the later report, Williams again hyped how "the tone is getting uglier than normal in Washington, as lawmakers argue over funding the health care law." Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd made it clear which party was being "ugly": "Another day of dysfunction and squabbling here in Washington as the clock ticks down for the potential government shutdown. Republicans trying to defund the President's health care law to do this shutdown."
Appearing on Thursday's NBC Today, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory was already predicting the GOP would get the blame for a government shutdown: "Washington loves to engage in the same kind of destructive behavior every couple years, whether it needs to or not....There's a universal feeling that the party that's more divided, that's Republicans, will feel most of the heat on this from the public..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Referring to the fast-approaching debt ceiling, co-host Savannah Guthrie fretted: "...we now have a date on the real doomsday...we will reach the borrowing limit in this country no later than October 17." Gregory warned: "Well, I think it is a real crisis point because we know the kind of economic shock that the world, and certainly the U.S. economy, could feel if they were to take that step. That's why nobody messes with this and they always end up raising the debt ceiling, whether they want to or not."
While ObamaCare remains widely unpopular with the American people, on Tuesday's ABC World News, anchor Diane Sawyer touted how "the President is bringing out the big gun to argue it will lead to a healthier and cheaper medical cost for Americans." In the report that followed, correspondent Bob Woodruff gushed: "Call it Bill Clinton to the rescue....the President turns to the man he calls his secretary of explaining stuff." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On NBC Nightly News, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd declared: "...the White House thought, hey, this is a great opportunity to tap Bill Clinton to help them do what Bill Clinton did in 2012, demystify a little bit of some of the issues around the economy. This time on health care there was a lot of theatrics as well."
On Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie noted an offensive tweet by one Russian lawmaker reacting to Monday's Navy Yard shooting in Washington D.C.: "After those terrible shootings in Washington yesterday...he tweeted that the tragedy was, quote, 'A clear confirmation of American exceptionalism.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Guthrie explained the comment was a "not-so-subtle reference to Vladimir Putin's op-ed in TheNew York Times last week" and concluded: "Now this Russian lawmaker has followed up with a tweet that I really think is in some pretty poor taste." Fellow co-host Matt Lauer agreed: "You want to score political points, that's one thing. 12 people get killed, you shut up. You just shut up."
In an interview on Tuesday's NBC Today with Dr. Janis Orlowski, chief medical officer for Medstar Washington Hospital Center, co-host Matt Lauer seized on her call for an end to gun violence following Monday's Navy Yard shooting as a demand for gun restrictions: "You say you didn't want to wade into the issue of gun control and yet your comments are resonating with people..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Though Orlowski never specifically mentioned gun control, Lauer fretted: "...but we also heard emotional comments after Newtown and Aurora, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Are you worried that your comments will be soon forgotten, as it seems some of those other comments have been forgotten?"
Talking to NBC's chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd on Sunday's Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory noted "Benghazi back as a political focus this week" following the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attack, prompting Todd to observe: "It is. The House Republicans have not dropped this as an issue." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Todd continued: "They didn't talk about it last week during the one-year anniversary of the Benghazi attack. But this week, on Thursday alone, three different hearings are going to be taking place on the same day on Capitol Hill. House Republicans, they don't want to drop this."
A Friday article in Politico described a "GOP on the Rise" while citing the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, noting that "Republicans are now leading Democrats on handling several key issues..." By contrast, on Friday's NBC Today, political director Chuck Todd minimized that development, claiming that Republicans "only fare a little bit better" in the poll than Democrats. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The Today segment began with news reader Natalie Morales declaring: "...many remain disappointed with high unemployment, a sluggish recovery, and limited job growth. 45% now approve of the President's handling of the economy in our new poll. 52% disapprove." She then turned to Todd and wondered: "...we've got a gridlocked Congress, so does the President have much of a shot of turning this around? Do Republicans fair much better?"
At the start of an interview with Senator Bob Corker on Thursday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, host Chuck Todd demanded the Tennessee Republican justify criticism of President Obama's poor handling of Syria: "You've been very tough on the President, you said he's a diminished figure on Capitol Hill. And you even questioned whether he knew how to speak as a commander-in-chief. Explain yourself on that." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Corker replied: "I am really disappointed in the way the President addresses our country and does not really make a case for what is our national interest." Todd quickly pushed back: "He had no political support. It was pretty clear. I mean, this was...going down in flames in Congress. It wasn't going to be a close vote. What was he supposed to do? He didn't have – he did not have the political will of the country, nor the political will of your colleagues on Capitol Hill."
NBC's Today behaved like the White House press office on Thursday as co-host Matt Lauer announced: "By the way, the White House is coming out with a brand new initiative today and the First Lady, Michelle Obama, sent us a special message about it. Take a look." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the White House-produced video that followed, the First Lady declared: "Hello Today show viewers....I'm working to inspire Americans from all across the country to drink more water. That's why I've stolen Matt and Savannah's mugs and exchanged them with water glasses. Water is the best and easiest choice we can make to feel energized, focused, healthy, and refreshed....So drink up."
In news briefs on Tuesday and Wednesday, NBC Today anchor Natalie Morales touted: "Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be given the National Constitution Center's Liberty Medal for her years in public service and her work on human rights." The two segments totaled 36 seconds of air time. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the network morning show only managed to offer a couple mentions, totaling 10 seconds, to the anniversary of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans – a major security failure that occurred during Clinton's tenure at the State Department.
At the end of Monday's Andrea Mitchell Reports, fill-in host Kristen Welker teed up a taped congratulatory message of Mitchell marking the fifth anniversary of Rachel Maddow's left-wing MSNBC show: "It is a very special day here at MSNBC. Five years ago, The Rachel Maddow Show made its debut. Rachel, congratulations from all of us. And Andrea, even though she's on the road, wanted to be sure to send along her good wishes to her dear friend." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Mitchell gushed to Maddow: "Rachel, my friend, happy fifth anniversary. This is a big deal, so we put together a small tribute here. Some of our favorite Rachel Maddow moments. Enjoy and congratulations to you and your team for the next five, and five more after that." As the clips began to run, the song "Simply the Best" provided a soundtrack.
On Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd engaged in a strategy session over how President Obama could minimize any political damage from Congress voting down a strike on Syria. Lauer fretted: "Is there an escape hatch for the President? Is there a way for him to save face politically if this vote goes against him?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer's concern was prompted by Todd observing: "[The White House is] very concerned, Matt, because it's not just that they believe they need Congress on this and they want to punish Assad and all of the Syria policy, but they realize a loss like this could be politically crippling to him [Obama] all over Washington on all the different battles that he's got coming in the next six months."
In back-to-back interviews with members on Congress on Friday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, fill-in host Luke Russert desperately tried to sell Democrats and Republicans on the importance of supporting President Obama taking military action against Syria. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Talking to Democratic Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly, Russert worried: "How much of this do you think, within your caucus, falls on this idea of, 'Okay, we're not necessarily comfortable with the idea of launching any missiles into Syria, but God help us, if we cut the President off here at the knees he becomes a lame duck quite early in his term and looks entirely weak. So we're going to kind of go along with him here in order to preserve his ability to govern on other major issues.' Is there an element of that here?"
In an interview with former Bush national security advisor Stephen Hadley on her Thursday MSNBC show, host Andrea Mitchell pinned all of President Obama's problems selling military action in Syria to the Iraq War: "There is such a credibility gap between the White House and Congress, the leftover, the hangover from the Iraq War. So can you be at least a little sympathetic to what the administration is encountering now with Congress, in explaining the intelligence and getting people to believe it?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Mitchell led up to that slanted question by declaring: "I don't want to re-litigate Iraq, but the blunt fact is that some of the questions that were asked – Congressman [Juan] Vargas [D-CA] asked both [Secretary of State John] Kerry and [Defense Secretary Chuck] Hagel yesterday, 'Are you lying? Because we were lied to about weapons of mass destruction.'"
On Wednesday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, minutes after President Obama denied setting a "red line" on Syria's use of chemical weapons, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd excused the obvious falsehood: "I think it was clear that the President was trying to depersonalize the Syria issue a little bit....to say, you know, 'Stop making this about the President personally, depersonalize this.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Following those instructions from Obama, Todd proceeded to blame Republicans for the President trying to distance himself from his own red line: "...there are some House Republicans who are looking at this only view – through the prism of their disagreements and dislike for President Obama rather than the policy itself. And so [the White House is] trying to make the policy argument, 'Forget who's in the seat as commander-in-chief, would the United States believe this was a red line no matter who was president?'"
On Tuesday, just days before the one-year anniversary of the September 11, 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams conducted an exclusive interview with White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice and completely ignored the topic. [View video after the jump]
Meanwhile, September 16 will mark the one-year anniversary of Rice, then ambassador to the United Nations, taking to the Sunday shows to falsely claim the planned attack was the result of a spontaneous protest.
In an exclusive interview with former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie attempted to blame the Bush administration for President Obama's difficulty in garnering support for military action against Syria: "Looming over this debate time and time again has been the specter of Iraq. Most recently, the U.K. Parliament, many members cited the failure of intelligence leading up to Iraq as the reason that they won't take action now in Syria..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Turning to Rumsfeld, Guthrie wondered: "Do you personally take any responsibility for that? Or feel any responsibility for that?" Rumsfeld reminded Guthrie of the lengthy process that led up to the Iraq War: "President Bush went to the congress, got the support of the congress. Went to the U.N., got the support of the U.N. And fashioned a very large coalition. So it seems to me that all the appropriate steps were taken and the congress, a Democratic congress, voted for regime change in Iraq."