During a report on Monday's NBC Today about the Benghazi and IRS scandals wracking the Obama administration, a headline on screen wondered if they were the result of "Obama's Second Term Curse?" White House correspondent Peter Alexander lamented: "Fewer than four months since his ambitious inaugural address, President Obama is facing significant political obstacles.... Some observers are already asking if Mr. Obama is falling victim to the second term curse."
After Alexander detailed second-term problems for past presidents, "From Watergate to Iran-Contra, even Bill Clinton's impeachment," a sound bite followed of NBC's liberal presidential historian Michael Beschloss offering this bit of advice to Obama: "The presidents who have weathered these crises best have been those who do not let themselves get distracted."
Teasing an upcoming story on Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams fretted over "The dramatic changes we've watched happen to our planet" as shown in "jaw-dropping images from above." In the report that followed, correspondent Rehema Ellis lamented: "From melting glaciers to vanishing rain forests to non-stop urban sprawl. All visible through millions of satellite images collected by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Wrapping up a fawning interview with Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren on MSNBC's The Last Word Wednesday night, left-wing host Lawrence O'Donnell couldn't hold back his glee at Warren proposing her first piece of legislation. Like an adoring fan, he gushed: "Congratulations on your first bill. If I could just get your autograph here on my copy of the first Warren bill, this is a very exciting night at The Last Word." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
As she happily signed her name, Warren exclaimed: " For Lawrence, you bet." O'Donnell announced: "This will be framed and then I'll – then I'll get a copy of the one the President signs when it becomes law." Warren replied: "Your mouth to God's ears."
The evening news broadcasts on NBC, ABC, and CBS on Wednesday all offered full reports on the compelling congressional testimony regarding the Benghazi terrorist attack, but only after all three programs led with coverage of the Cleveland abduction case.
NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News both at least informed viewers of the hearing during top-of-the-show teases, but ABC World News failed to make any mention of the hearing until a report nine minutes into the program (though anchor Diane Sawyer did find time to preview a story about tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams).
Teasing an upcoming panel discussion on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: "Today's Professionals are going to weigh in on what could be a game changer in the gun debate, a plastic pistol undetectable by most security systems that almost anyone can make at home using some modern technology." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Fretting over details being released on how to construct the weapon using a 3D printer, Lauer posed this questions to the usual group of liberal pundits: "What do we do about it?" Attorney Star Jones admitted that there wasn't much that could be done under existing law, "other than really step up our efforts at gun control....if you make the behavior, the penalty for the behavior, the possession of a gun, no matter how it's manufactured, much more stringent."
On Wednesday's NBC Today, news reader Natalie Morales touted a "Today exclusive" with Michelle Obama, playing a clip of a "wide-ranging conversation" between the First Lady and Kelly Wallace of the NBC-owned iVillage website that amounted to little more than a friendly chat about current events and Obama's 2012 book, American Grown.
On CBS's Sunday Morning, correspondent Lee Cowan conducted an identical fawning exchange with Michelle Obama, putting special emphasis on her White House garden: "This is the garden's second term as well....Ever since ground was broken four years ago, kids from all over the country have come to play and plant in the dirt, everything from peas and carrots, to a new crop this year: wheat."
Appearing on Wednesday's NBC Today, Huffington Post contributor Abby Huntsman proclaimed that following Mark Sanford's win in Tuesday's special congressional election in South Carolina, disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner "probably slept well last night knowing that he can potentially come back, too."
Co-host Willie Geist agreed: "Absolutely, absolutely." News reader Natalie Morales chimed in: "I was thinking the same thing this morning."
Appearing on Monday's Tonight Show, NBC Today co-host Savannah Guthrie told Jay Leno that President Obama was "deeply disappointed" by gun control legislation being voted down, prompting the late night host to complain: "Why do you think he's not able to close a deal? This seems to happen a lot....how come Obama hits this wall sometimes?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Guthrie acknowledged: "I think the criticism is that he hasn't quite learned how to work with Congress to get some of his initiatives through." But then she offered a defense of Obama by touting his supposed accomplishments: "I know if he were sitting here he'd say, 'Wait a minute, what about health care reform?' There have been big parts of his agenda that he has gotten through."
Wrapping up a report on Monday's NBC Nightly News about a fresh round of congressional hearings on the Benghazi terrorist attack, correspondent Andrea Mitchell dismissed the development as political posturing by the House GOP: "There is an obvious political undercurrent. Republicans are taking direct aim at Hillary Clinton, the country's most popular Democrat and a possible presidential contender." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Mitchell began the report by noting new testimony from Gregory Hicks, the State Department's deputy mission chief in Tripoli, Libya at the time of the Benghazi attack, "who said he called for military help from four more special forces operatives in Tripoli, but was overruled." Mitchell emphasized that Hicks was "a diplomat, not a military officer," just before quoting his statement on the lack of U.S. military air support during the attack.
During an interview with Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt for the Meet the Press web-based feature Press Pass on Sunday, NBC's David Gregory eagerly asked Schmidt about working for President Obama's 2012 campaign: "...what did you discover, what did you learn, what did you actually help to bring to the campaign that changes politics, that changes a politician's ability to say, 'Who is it that I need to reach and how do I reach them?'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
That teed up Schmidt to brag about his role in the campaign's get-out-the-vote operation: "...the Obama campaign used sort of, essentially data modeling of one kind or another, to try to target voters that might be willing to vote for the President, and they did so extremely well....Since there are more Democratic voters in many places than Republicans, if you get the Democratic voters to come out, you tend to win. This sort of is a new fact."
Appearing on NBC's Chris Matthews Show on Sunday, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius initially dismissed the Benghazi terrorist attack as being "Fox News's super-story," with left-wing host Matthews agreeing: "This is a big Fox story." Fellow Post columnist Kathleen Parker called out Ignatius: "I know Fox has been covering it, but, you know, that doesn't mean it's wrong." Ignatius acknowledged: "It doesn't mean it's wrong." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Parker, who prompted discussion of the topic, told Matthews: "I knew you were going to roll your eyes on this, but I think it makes you look good to at least mention it on your show." Matthews replied: "David's also rolling his eyes." Ignatius denied the charge, declaring: "No, I think this is, Benghazi is a serious story." Parker prodded him: "Could you say that a little louder, please?" Ignatius reiterated: "Benghazi is a serious story."
Previewing an upcoming story for NBC's Rock Center on Friday's Today, correspondent Ann Curry warned that tribes of the Amazon rain forest "are sharpening their spears and preparing their blow guns to fight Ecuador's new plan to auction as much as 8 million acres of the rain forest for oil drilling." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
She then cited Boston University biology professor Kelly Swing arguing that "America, a top importer of oil from Ecuador, shares responsibility for this coming conflict....And the toxic legacy of past oil drilling in other parts of the rain forest." A sound bite played of Swing declaring: "We're definitely guilty in this story."
On Friday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah noted start of the National Rifle Association's convention in Houston, Texas by declaring that it "gets under way as the country engages in a heated gun control debate." In the report that followed, correspondent Gabe Gutierrez described the event as "a nine-acre gun show in the middle of a national gun fight."
Gutierrez acknowledged the recent "major congressional victory" of the gun rights group and lamented failure to pass gun restrictions: "After mass shootings in Aurora and Newtown, the NRA's opponents seemed to have momentum....But two weeks ago, a bipartisan compromise on expanded background checks for commercial gun sales was shot down in the Senate."
During a panel discussion on Thursday's NBC Today, attorney and regular pundit Star Jones compared gay NBA player Jason Collins to a civil rights icon: "I don't think that, say a Rosa Parks, set out to be the person that people will call the mother of the civil rights – civil rights era. I don't think that Jason Collins started out thinking, 'I'm going to be this gay hero.' But if it becomes a movement that equalizes people not based on their sexuality, it works." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Matt Lauer started off the conversation by touting a panel topic from weeks earlier: "I wanna start with a subject that brings us full circle to a subject we discussed here about a month ago. We were asking the question when will a male in a professional major sport in the United States come out and say, 'I'm gay'? We got the answer this week....What's next? What happens? Do we see a lot of other players come out?"
Leading off Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams eagerly touted gun control supporters going after Republican New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte at a recent town hall meeting: "Pushing back. A tense moment as a U.S. senator gets an earful about her no vote on gun control." Williams hopefully added: "And with lawmakers home from Washington on a break, is this about to start happening more often?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
While Williams promoted the incident as a genuine public uprising, emphasizing "9 of 10 Americans support expanded background checks," he failed to mention that President Obama's campaign machine, Organizing for Action, was motivating many of the anti-Ayotte protests. On FNC's Special Report on Wednesday, anchor Bret Baier reported: "OFA took to the streets of New Hampshire at the end of April for an impassioned protest against [Ayotte]...One sign spattered in what appears to be fake blood reads, quote, 'More shot in one day than marathoned.'"
After reporting on the FDA allowing girls as young as 15-years-old to receive the morning-after pill without a prescription or parental consent, NBC's chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman voiced her support for the controversial decision: "13, 14, and 15-year-olds are having intercourse. So we have to talk about, if we want to prevent abortions, should we have birth control, contraception that's safe, condoms, and put all of this stuff out there for active teenagers?"
In her report, Snyderman touted how "The pill's manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceuticals, welcomed the ruling, calling it 'a significant milestone for women.'" But she also admitted that "lowering the age restriction is likely to dramatically raise the level of controversy, especially among parents and teens."
While NBC's chief White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd pressed President Obama during a Tuesday news conference on the possibility of ObamaCare being a "train wreck," the network coverage of the presser completely avoided any mention of the question, instead seizing on Obama being pressured from the left to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.
Anchor Brian Williams lead off Tuesday's Nightly News by declaring: "The hunger strike at Guantanamo that's now gotten so bad prisoners are being force fed, as the President faces tough questions." Introducing a report on the topic, Williams lectured: "We don't get to see them or know their names, and most Americans actually prefer not to spend a whole lot of time thinking about the men who've been rounded up as enemy combatants and imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba."
While Tuesday's NBC Today began by heralding gay NBA player Jason Collins as "a towering figure on the court" and in "sports history," later in the 7 a.m. ET hour, correspondent Craig Melvin regarded NFL quarterback Tim Tebow as an athlete who's "play never really matched the hype" and someone who became "spoof-worthy" due to his "well-publicized faith."
A clip played of Late Night host Jimmy Fallon mocking Tebow with a parody song set to David Bowie's "Ground Control to Major Tom": "Tim Tebow to Jesus Christ." Melvin followed: "On the field, Tebow struggled. His only season as a Jet, lackluster....His football future is uncertain. But Tebow could still cash-in on his carefully cultivated persona."
Amid the celebration on Tuesday's NBC Today over the "groundbreaking" "game changer" announcement by NBA player Jason Collins that he is gay, co-host Matt Lauer brought on liberal New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica, who ranted: "I hope that the league of old men and women on the Supreme Court are paying attention to this....Because same-sex marriage and the constitutionality is now going to be heard....This is a human rights issue, it's not a civil rights issue." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Moments later, after Lauer wondered about the possibility of other players coming out, Lupica proclaimed: "Women have been doing this in sports for a long time. And women have been more accepting about this. And it just kind of verifies that women are a lot smarter and cooler about this stuff and I'm hoping that that transfers now to guys."
At the top of Sunday's NBC Today, co-host Erica Hill cheered President Obama's performance at Saturday's White House Correspondents' Dinner as she announced: "Comedian-in-chief....President Obama gets lots of laughs at the White House Correspondents' Dinner." Moments later, fellow co-host Lester Holt gushed that Obama was "very, very funny...very loose." Hill agreed, suggesting the President "take that show on the road." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Following a report on how Obama "embraced his role as comedian-in-chief," Hill asked Meet the Press moderator David Gregory for his thoughts on the presidential stand-up. Gregory happily joined in the Obama praise: "I think the President did well. I mean, the President always does well. Any president does who, you know, is in a position to be sort of rooted on in many ways. And I think that's what happened last night. But I think the President was particularly on last night..." One wonders who Gregory thought had "rooted on" the President at the event heavily attended by media figures.
As news of a deal in Congress to end FAA furloughs of air traffic controllers broke Friday morning, a panel of NBC hosts on Today immediately fretted over other government programs affected by the sequester, with Willie Geist touting Obama administration fearmongering: "...some of the other things that are hurt by the sequester, namely Head Start, preschool for low-income families....By the White House's account, 70,000 preschoolers will not have Head Start because of what's happening due to sequestration." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Geist worried about the "imbalance" of the congressional deal only benefitting airline passengers. Fill-in co-host Tamron Hall agreed: "Now we're seeing this piecemeal, where, like you said, the air travelers, many of them business folks, are able to complain....Squeaky wheel gets the most attention and gets results. And do we really want our country to run that way? It's crazy....And there's the silent victims."
On the eve of the dedication of George W. Bush's presidential library, NBC's Meet the Press moderator David Gregory appeared on Wednesday's Nightly News to tear down the former president's legacy, beginning the report by remarking that it was "difficult to remember" Bush's popularity after the September 11th attacks. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gregory described how Iraq War intelligence failures "formed the backdrop to criticism that the President underestimated the challenges he faced....And grew stubborn in the face of mounting setbacks." Gregory further proclaimed: "What grew into a reputation for incompetence stained the administration and the GOP brand after Hurricane Katrina."
At the beginning of a live interview with former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer wondered about the motivation behind Bush's presidential library: "So many difficult moments, so many controversial decisions you made. Some of them cost you dearly in terms of popularity. Is one of the ideas here...to force your critics to take a second look?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
As the three of them toured the museum, Lauer highlighted an exhibit on the war on terror and noted how "it includes what was perhaps the most controversial decision of your presidency, invading Iraq." Lauer wondered: "Do you want people to look at some of the information you had, and do you think you'll convince the people who thought that was an unjust war, the wrong war at the wrong time, that perhaps you were right?"
On Wednesday's NBC Today, news anchor Natalie Morales complained about having a flight delayed due to the FAA furloughing air traffic controllers in the wake of the sequester: "I was traveling to Boston yesterday, which is a 50-minute flight, shuttle. And it took me about two and a half hours to get there....the pilots got on and they said, 'It's not the airline's fault....you can go online and sign the petition to end the furloughs.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The account echoed a similar report from CNBC's Jim Cramer, who on Tuesday's Squawk Box explained: "We were about to take off and the pilot comes back and doesn't see me initially, CNBC. And says, 'look, we just got word the FAA says that we don't have enough air traffic controllers to take off. It's part of the sequester.'"
After initially airing more substantive portions of her April 15 interview with President Obama, on Wednesday, NBC Today co-host Savannah Guthrie made time to show a third part of the exchange: "...because of breaking news, we weren't able to show you yet our brief chat after that interview..." The "chat" that followed covered such hard-hitting topics as the First Lady's "mom dancing" on Jimmy Fallon, the President's own dance skills, and what viral videos he watches. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Guthrie wondered: "What did you think of her [Michelle Obama's] mom dancing?" A clip followed of the First Lady recently dancing with Late Night host Jimmy Fallon. Guthrie followed up: "Do you have dad dancing that can give it a run for its money?" The President explained: "You know, she consistently maintains, and I don't argue with her, that she's a better dancer than me....And in private, you know, I can bust a move and I think I'm pretty good."
On Monday's NBC Nightly News, during a round-up of news stories that were eclipsed by coverage of the Boston bombing, anchor Brian Williams highlighted the failure of gun control legislation, noting that it "broke through last week but otherwise would have dominated our coverage..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the brief item, Williams recalled how President Obama labeled the political defeat "a shameful day in Washington" and lamented: "Upwards of 90% of the American people support it, but not enough members of the U.S. Senate." Williams then declared: "The President showed a rare flash of anger. The Newtown families went home still grieving."
At the top of Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams eagerly parroted Obama administration talking points when it came to blaming the sequester for sporadic flight delays: "The traffic jam starting to build up at our airports. Flight delays just beginning to emerge today as those budget cuts in Washington begin to hit home." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Later on the broadcast, Williams again declared the delays to be a sign of "the impact of Washington all across this country" and predicted: "Now the American people as a whole just might take further notice because now the sequester is responsible for delaying airline flights across this country."
Sunday's NBC Meet the Press panel decried gun background check legislation being voted down in the Senate, with liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin lamenting: "Maybe the problem is also the structure of the Senate....given the 60 votes that are needed, given who they listen to, given the power of special interests, public sentiment cannot penetrate." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan pleaded: "Something's not working there....we got a thing like Newtown, 90 percent, move it. Small, discrete parts of a bill, push it through, call it a victory, keep going." Special correspondent Tom Brokaw replied: "Well, kill the filibuster bill. I mean – or change it." Goodwin eagerly agreed: "Kill it. Definitely. Definitely. They've got to do that."
On Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie and legal analyst Lisa Bloom worried about Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev not yet being read his Miranda rights after being taken into custody on Friday, with Guthrie arguing: "...officials are citing what's known as the public safety exception....As time passes, does the justification for that exception grow weaker? Are they on, I guess, less strong ground?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Bloom proclaimed: "Well, it sure does, because as you know, Miranda rights are a bedrock constitutional principle....The public safety exception is a very narrow exception, there has to be an imminent threat to the public. As the clock keeps ticking, hours and days pass, it certainly seems less imminent."
On Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, special correspondent Tom Brokaw used a discussion on the Boston Marathon bombings to argue more broadly that the "roots" of anti-American terrorism across the Islamic world are U.S. drone attacks: "I think we also have to examine the use of drones that the United States is involved in and – and there are a lot of civilians who are innocently killed in a drone attack in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Brokaw began by wondering: "We have to work a lot harder at a motivation here. What prompts a young man to come to this country and still feel alienated from it, to go back to Russia and do whatever he did? And I don't think we've examined that enough." Speaking of people in the Middle East, Brokaw warned: "There is this enormous rage against what they see in that part of the world as a presumptuousness of the United States."