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."
On Sunday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Peter Alexander sounded like he was simply reciting a White House press release about President Obama's upcoming State of the Union address rather than actually reporting on the story: "...senior advisers to the President say that...[the speech] will be more specific, more policy and agenda-oriented....will focus on jobs and the economy, echoing familiar themes about strengthening the nation's middle class."
Alexander continued to parrot talking points: "The President, advisors say, will emphasize the value of spending on education, to give Americans the skills they need. Infrastructure, like roads. Research, including clean energy technology. And manufacturing." That was followed by liberal historian Douglas Brinkley declaring: "The inauguration was more about the underdog. This is about people that have already made it, but the American dream is fading and [Obama's] got their backs."
On Sunday's Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory seized on an item in Politico arguing that upcoming sequester budget cuts could prove to be a "time bomb" for Republicans: "And the political pressure that's being brought to bear....'If sequestration happens now, House Democrats say they'll have tangible proof that the GOP is a dysfunctional party that can't even tie its own shoelaces'....Is that where the pressure is?"
Gregory posed that question to investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, who replied: "I think the President clearly has the upper hand on the budget. Look, he won the election....Revenues being a part of the equation for cutting the budget, the President won on that....on that particular issue, he's got the upper hand. And it makes sense for him politically to hammer it – hammer it strongly."
On Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory demanded Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor admit that the Republican Party's fundamental principles led to electoral defeat in 2012: "Isn't this more than tone that's an issue? Isn't it more than re-branding? Isn't it some of the central beliefs of the Republican Party that have hurt it with the electorate?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Cantor explained that the party needed to "connect our conservative principles with helping people and making their life work again." Gregory interjected: "But Leader, it's core beliefs....There are core beliefs of the Republican Party that the polls show were rejected by a national electorate that you want to try to recapture some of if you're going to get to become a national party."
On the day Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would be stepping down from the Papacy, NBC's Monday Today featured a report by correspondent Michelle Kosinski, who offered these highlights of the Pontiff's tenure: "As a Cardinal, some criticized him for being strict and conservative, calling him, 'God's Rottweiler.' Becoming Pope meant he had to take on the Church's sexual abuse scandal that reverberated throughout America and Europe, and for which he apologized." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
As Kosinski mentioned the Pope's response to the sex abuse scandal, footage appeared on screen of protesters holding signs with pictures of Benedict and the words: "Catholic Paedophile Cover Up."
Filling in for host Chuck Todd on Friday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza gushed over the popularity of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "Hillary Clinton is just day's removed from public office, but a new poll finds her public image soaring. Time to put another log on the 2016 speculation fire....Look, I can't get enough of Hillary Clinton, I'll just admit it. I'm just fascinated by the story." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Comparing Clinton to a list of other potential 2016 presidential candidates, both Democrats and Republicans, Cillizza proclaimed: "She's more popular than anyone else on this list....These numbers are not terribly surprising, I mean, she just spent four years as our top diplomat."
During a panel discussion on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports on Friday, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory touted President Obama's swagger leading up to Tuesday's State of the Union address: "He's coming at this with a very ambitious agenda at a time when he's feeling pretty confident...You come into the start of your second term, you say, 'Okay, I'm going to walk with a bit more strength in my gate here.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Host Andrea Mitchell imagined Obama declaring: "I'm the big sheriff in town."The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza gushed: "Well, I mean, look, this is – if there's ever a time where you can say, 'I have been validated'....It's sort of like, 'I won, deal with this reality, and let's move forward.'"
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]