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."
On Tuesday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, NBC senior political editor Mark Murray dismissed the notion that if Democrat Terry McAuliffe lost the closely contested Virginia governor's race, it would not be a defeat for his strongest backers, the Clintons: "I'm not sure this race is going to impact Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton if McAuliffe wins or if he loses. Simply because if Hillary Clinton were running against Ken Cuccinelli in this contest, she would be the clear favorite, she'd be leading in the polls by 10, 15 points." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Murray didn't bother to cite any evidence to back up his assertion. In fact, recent electoral history would seem to contradict his claim. In Virginia's 2008 Democratic primary, Clinton only garnered 35% of vote compared to then-Senator Barack Obama's 63%.
On her Friday MSNBC program, host Andrea Mitchell tried to ease the concerns of Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee and other members of Congress calling for a congressional vote on military action in Syria: "Barack Obama, as you know better than I do, was one of the leading Democratic politicians against the Iraq War. So if he says that this is different, that the evidence is there....does that persuade you since he has always come at this from a very cautious anti-war perspective?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Accepting the odd juxtaposition of the President launching missile strikes from an "anti-war perspective," Lee responded: "And I'm very pleased that the President has come at this in a very cautious manner....But also that has nothing to do with our constitutional responsibility as members of Congress, Andrea."
On Thursday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, host Chuck Todd laid blame for Republicans not speaking at Wednesday's anniversary of the 1963 march on Washington on the GOP, rather than event organizers: "...the Bushes couldn't go, there were health reasons why neither President Bush could go and speak. Other Republicans leaders were invited to speak and they politely declined. In hindsight, do you wish there had been Republicans that had agreed to speak?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Republican strategist John Feehery pointed out that the only African American in the United States Senate was not invited to speak: "I find it completely shocking that Tim Scott [R-SC] was not invited." Todd still faulted Republicans: "But why didn't Boehner and Cantor say, you know....they could have, by going, they probably could have said, 'By the way, we want you to invite Tim Scott,' and I don't thing the King family says no."
In an interview with California attorney general Kamala Harris during live MSNBC coverage of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, host Andrea Mitchell fretted: "I talked to Jesse Jackson earlier about all the voter suppression efforts, and what's happened since the Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act. What can be done, from your perspective – obviously California has a majority of liberal officials, Governor Brown – but you see what's happening in Texas and North Carolina?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Harris seized the opportunity to proclaim: "The Voting Rights Act was created and designed to ensure equal access to the polls. And we know with the case of Texas and other places, that access is questionable. And that was the power of the Voting Rights Act, which was actually gutted by the Supreme Court decision, and I applaud Eric Holder and the Justice Department doing the work they're doing to fight, to make sure that all Americans have equal access to the polls."
In a puff piece on Wednesday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Kristen Welker heralded President Obama's upcoming speech marking the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech: "President Obama has delivered a number of big speeches before, but this one is different. He'll be speaking in the shadows of Dr. King, a man who gave his life fighting for civil rights. So, today, the stakes couldn't be higher." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Only Obama's fellow liberals were given sound bites throughout the report that sounded more like a press release. First, White House aide Valerie Jarrett declared: "Are comparisons inevitable? Sure. But I think he's looking forward to the opportunity....I think, as the original speech was about not just civil rights but it was about jobs, and so I think he'll talk about that, and I think it'll also be a message to the next generation."
On Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie conducted a cooking segment with White House chef Sam Kass to promote First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign and wondered: "So do you feel like the program is having the intended effect? Do you think people are thinking differently about food, now?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Kass, boyfriend of MSNBC host Alex Wagner, declared: "Oh, absolutely. I think we're seeing the country unite around our kid's health....last year the new school lunch standards were put in place. School chefs are cooking much healthier food, and that's going to happen gain this year." However, on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported: "After just one year, some schools around the country are dropping out of the healthier new federal lunch program..."
On Tuesday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, host Chuck Todd invited liberal historian Taylor Branch to blast modern-day conservatism as nothing more than racism in disguise: "You talked about how George Wallace decided to change his language right after – when the word segregation no longer had a – so he changed his language and it all became about big government." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In response, Branch ranted: "He attacked big government, he called 'pointy-headed bureaucrats' and 'tyrannical judges' and 'tax and spend legislators.' He basically invented a lot of the modern vocabulary of politics, taking racial animosity and unease and making – and transmuting it into a distrust of government. And that's – you know, that's what we're doing now."
On her 1 p.m. ET hour MSNBC show on Monday, host Andrea Mitchell touted Attorney General Eric Holder "speaking about the national battle for voting rights" in the wake of new state voter I.D. laws and lead off a panel discussion on the topic by wondering: "How will the President take on those voter suppression laws?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Mitchell eagerly seized on former Secretary of State Colin Powell "speaking on the political effects of these voter suppression attempts by the Republican Party." Following the Face the Nation sound bite in which Powell slammed the GOP for passing measures to curb voter fraud, Mitchell posed this question: "Does the White House think that the Republicans are actually doing the Democratic Party a favor by taking on, you know, these issues and passing the laws that they've now passed in Texas and in North Carolina?"
At the top of Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory interviewed Democratic Congressman John Lewis about the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech and seized the opportunity to bash President Obama's political opponents: "...in your view, a lot of people can't get comfortable with the idea of an African American president...Do you see some of the same trappings of resentment and fear in our modern-day politics?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gregory further teed up Lewis to bash conservatives: "And you even said during your speech yesterday [at the MLK speech anniversary], 'There are forces, there are people who want to take us back.' What specifically are you talking about?" Lewis ranted: "Well, I hear people over and over again saying, 'We want to take our country back.' Take it back where? Where are we going?...when I was growing up, I saw those signs that said, "White Men," "Colored Men"...Those signs are gone."
In an exclusive interview with Bradley Manning's attorney David Coombs on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie read a "bombshell announcement" from the convicted military leaker: "I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female." After referring to Manning as "he" throughout the segment, Guthrie immediately switched pronouns: "Why did she choose this moment to announce this?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Guthrie then fretted: "She wants hormone therapy. Fort Leavenworth does not provide that. Are you going to sue to try to force the government to give her hormone therapy, and perhaps a sex-reassignment surgery?" Coombs replied: "...as far as the hormone therapy, yes. I'm hoping Fort Leavenworth would do the right thing and provide that. If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that they are forced to do so."
While NBC, ABC, and CBS have censored coverage of the ongoing IRS scandal for weeks – even as new revelations have moved it higher up the rungs of the Obama administration – on Wednesday and Thursday, the networks all eagerly hyped 40-year-old tapes of President Richard Nixon discussing the Watergate scandal. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Perhaps the most infuriating was NBC, which hasn't touched the IRS story in 56 days, sending correspondent Peter Alexander to the lawn of the Obama White House to report on the decades-old Nixon recordings for Thursday's Today: "39 years have now passed since President Nixon abruptly resigned. Still, his life fuels our fascination. And these tapes, more than 340 hours worth, give us an unparalleled window into an unprecedented time of presidential turmoil." If only there was some current "presidential turmoil" Alexander could cover.
On Wednesday's MSNBC Andrea Mitchell Reports, fill-in co-host Kathleen Matthews, wife of Hardball host Chris Matthews, lamented Republicans distracting President Obama from pushing his liberal agenda: "...the President's got the gnats of August swarming around him, with Ted Cruz out there fighting against ObamaCare. So, hard to kind of keep that message and that kind of – that solid message moving forward while he's having to swat what he probably perceives as some of the gnats..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza laid blame for Obama's failures on just about everything except the President himself: "I actually think that problem is even more exacerbated now because of the rapidity of the news cycle, because of Twitter, because of sort of YouTube, because of all of the ways in which you can get distracted and off message and being forced to respond to things."
Hyping a story on global warming for Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, fill-in anchor Lester Holt proclaimed: "Sounding the alarm. A leaked report about the danger happening all around us tonight." Introducing the segment, Holt declared that the study "from one of the world's most prestigious groups of scientists...has a lot of people taking notice because of the alarming conclusions about climate change." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Curry lead off the one-sided fearmongering by warning viewers: "The key finding in this leaked draft report is that it's, quote, 'extremely likely,' as in greater than 95%, that human activity is the main cause of the planet's temperature rise in the last 60 years." She cited a recent trip to the Arctic to bolster the case: "At the top of the world in Arctic, Greenland, scientists like Dr. Jason Box study the icy landscape. He says all this might be lost to climate change, mostly caused by humans burning fossil fuels."
Rather than focus on the myriad of problems plaguing the implementation of ObamaCare, on Tuesday, all three network morning shows instead provided coverage of the First Family getting a second dog. On NBC's Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander happily announced: "Move over Bo, there's a new dog in town, Sunny. And for her inaugural play date, the White House released it's own music video. A pair of presidential pets frolicking on the South Lawn, that'll get tails wagging." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On ABC's Good Morning America, news reader Elizabeth Vargas reported: "The one-year-old female Portuguese water dog is described as full of energy and very affectionate. First Lady Michelle Obama took to Instagram to make the announcement, tweeting, 'So excited to introduce the newest member of the Obama family – our puppy, Sunny!'" On CBS This Morning, co-host Charlie Rose declared: "That is the same breed as Obama's other dog, Bo....The two dogs appear to be getting along just fine."
Filling in for Andrea Mitchell on her 1 p.m. et MSNBC show on Monday, Hardball host Chris Matthews wrapped up an interview with Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz by adorning her with praise: "Congresswoman, I want to congratulate you on one thing that nobody ever gives you credit for, which is uniting the Democratic Party as it's never been united." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Matthews, co-hosting with his wife Kathleen, continued to gush: "And I'm telling you, it's not – I grew up with a Democratic Party that was never united, and you are united. And that's something the Republicans are going to envy you for." A beaming Wasserman Schultz replied: "Thank you. We're very proud of that."
At the end of Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory excitedly announced to his panel of guests: "We're coming up on an anniversary that is going to give the President an opportunity to highlight some – a presidential leadership moment." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gregory was referring to the upcoming 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech and teed up Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards: "President Obama going to recreate that moment, in effect, on the – on the Washington Mall. How significant is it?" Edwards replied in part: "I think he's going to speak to economic inequality....give him an opportunity to follow up on the Dr. King dream, saying it's social equality."
In an impressive display of journalistic gymnastics on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie and Meet the Press moderator David Gregory managed to have an entire discussion about U.S. policy in Egypt without mentioning President Obama by name. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Plenty of vague substitutions were used, including "the President" "the White House" "the administration" and most popularly, "the U.S." Anything to avoid actually holding Barack Obama accountable for the internal strife plaguing a key ally in the Middle East. Even the headline on screen during the morning show segment read: "Chaos in Egypt; What Options Does U.S. Have?" They at least briefly showed Obama on screen during the segment.
While NBC marked the one-year anniversary of the Bin Laden killing with a fawning Inside the Situation Room profile of President Obama, on Thursday, the cast of Today chided former White House aide Reggie Love for revealing that he and the President "must have played 15 games of spades" during the 2011 operation. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
After playing the sound bite of Love, co-host Matt Lauer quickly added: "We should note, from what we understand, the President was in the Situation Room during all of the actual raid." He then remarked: "We wonder how they feel about Mr. Love writing about this." Fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie joked: "Bring, bring. Reggie it's the White House, line two." Weatherman Al Roker chimed in: "Remember that non-disclosure thing you signed?"
Perhaps in response to the backlash against a planned miniseries on Hillary Clinton, Thursday's NBC Today aired an unusually critical story about the "chaos" at the Clinton Foundation and the possible negative political fallout for the would-be 2016 presidential contender. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
White House correspondent Peter Alexander informed viewers: "As first reported by the New York Times, a 2011 review of the foundation raised concerns about infighting, bad management, and conflicts of interest. Observers say, echoing problems in Bill Clinton's White House and his wife's 2008 campaign."
Leading off Saturday's NBC Nightly News, fill-in anchor Kate Snow declared: "Healthy choices? Big challenges ahead for when the new health care law takes effect. Will you have to change your doctor?" However, in the report that followed, not one word was mentioned of President Obama's repeated promise that people would be able to keep their own doctor under the new law. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Introducing the segment, Snow reiterated: "When the Affordable Health Care Act goes into effect on October 1, a lot of Americans around retirement age will have some challenging choices to make. Like, should they switch to a new kind of health care coverage? And if they do, will that mean changing doctors?"
While NBC's senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers did a full report on Tuesday's Nightly News about ObamaCare causing cutbacks in worker hours across the country, Wednesday's Today couldn't find time to even mention the damage the law was inflicting. Instead, the morning show updated viewers on a rodeo clown that mocked President Obama at a state fair finally facing justice. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
News reader Natalie Morales announced: "The rodeo clown who wore a President Obama mask during a performance at the Missouri State Fair has been banned for life. Fair officials say they're also reviewing their contract with the company that ran the event. The weekend incident sparked outrage nationwide after video of the event went viral." She somberly added: "Fair officials did not release the identity of that clown."
While NBC's Today has done 35 stories on the Kardashians in the past six months and frequently promotes the family's reality show, a panel discussion on Tuesday's program posed this question: "Are We Keeping Up Too Much With the Kardashians?" Why the sudden introspection? It might have something to do President Obama being critical of a culture in which kids are "monitoring every day what Kim Kardashian was wearing or where Kanye West was going on vacation, and thinking that somehow that was the mark of success." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Monday morning, only NBC's Today deemed President Obama being mocked during a rodeo at the Missouri State Fair to be national news, going so far as to wonder if it was "Rodeo Racism" and playing a sound bite of one spectator declaring the incident to be "Like an effigy at a Klan rally." Neither ABC's Good Morning America nor CBS This Morning mentioned the local controversy. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The mockery in question involved a rodeo clown wearing a Barack Obama mask and being chased by a bull, with the announcer shouting: "As soon as this bull comes out, Obama, don't you move. He's going to getcha, getcha, getcha, getcha!" While certainly inappropriate, the comparison of the event to a "Klan rally" by Perry Beam – a spectator who took video of the incident – was over the top.
On Friday's MSNBC Andrea Mitchell Reports, while previewing President Obama's upcoming press conference, host Andrea Mitchell turned to The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and lamented the lack of liberal policy successes in the President's second term: "There's a disappointment factor because he doesn't have immigration reform, he doesn't have any notches on his belt, if you will, on domestic legislation..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Cillizza commiserated with Mitchell and declared: "Well, Andrea, and look, you know, I think if you said at the start of the year, "By August, would President Obama have something to point to say we reacted to Newtown?"....I mean that was sort of the thing that we were talking about every day. Could some sort of gun control measure pass? I think everyone expected something to pass."