Brian Williams Hails Obama's 'Strong' SOTU, Boosts Obama's Record, 'Humor and Feistiness'

NBC's Brian Williams was dripping with praise and support for President Obama after his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, touting areas where he was "strong" and quoting a sympathetic New Yorker interview of the President.

"A lot of things will perhaps be remembered from this speech," Williams announced, as if the address was almost a classic. He touted that Obama was "strong on education, strong on immigration" and "used humor and feistiness the second half."

Later on, Williams launched into a defense of the President's shortcomings:

"[I]t was David Remnick in the New Yorker magazine, a long, long article, a long, sustained-access interview with the President over many stops who put a sentence in the middle of the article to reset everyone's expectations and remind us what it took to get here. And I'm going to quote from it. 'A president who after all who, quote, won two terms as only 17 of 44 presidents have and did so as a black man with an African father and a peculiar name one consonant away from that of the world's most notorious terrorist.' Something I think everybody forgets in the day-to-day game here."

Meet the Press host David Gregory chipped in that the President's "aura" drove up expectations too high for him:

"And I think it was because of that success being so unlikely that there was so much expectation therefore projected onto him because was the singular figure. And I think the President is still trying to recover from the leadership deficiencies he's had actually operating in Washington given this aura that surrounded him overcoming those things."

NBC News political director Chuck Todd called it a "well-crafted speech."

Below is a transcript of the relevant material:

NBC
NBC STATE OF THE UNION 2014
1/28/14
[10:20 p.m. EST]

BRIAN WILLIAMS: The President concluding his fifth State of the Union address. A lot of things will perhaps be remembered from this speech, including the call for the middle class to finally make headway as the President declares war on income inequality and asks for the support of Congress. The President's quote about doing away with workplace policies that belong in a "Mad Men" episode. The President's quote that we must move off a permanent war footing, which brought us to the easily the emotional high point of the evening.

(...)

WILLIAMS: He was strong on education, strong on immigration, and seemed to hit a stride midway through, used humor and feistiness the second half.

CHUCK TODD: Look, I thought it was a well-crafted speech. The President and Cody clearly – it was very much a – had a rhythm to it. But this was not going to be confused with an ambitious State of the Union. It is a modest agenda. You pointed out the politics here. I thought what was interesting about the President's speech was it was a political speech without being partisan. And here's what I mean about that. He was very careful to make sure every new agenda item that he had was something that the Democratic party could unite on and run on without dividing the Democratic party. There was not much that he said tonight that was going to offend any Democrats. And that was one of the goals that congressional Democrats wanted the President to meet here, which was give the party something to run on that's not health care. And if you look at it from just the political prism, I'd argue he succeeded in keeping his party united in what's going to be a tough election year.

(...)

WILLIAMS: With all the talk about the President entering this period where "lame duck" has been tossed around, this period in his second term, it was David Remnick in the New Yorker magazine, a long, long article, a long, sustained-access interview with the President over many stops who put a sentence in the middle of the article to reset everyone's expectations and remind us what it took to get here. And I'm going to quote from it. "A president who after all who, quote, won two terms as only 17 of 44 presidents have and did so as a black man with an African father and a peculiar name one consonant away from that of the world's most notorious terrorist." Something I think everybody forgets in the day-to-day game here.

DAVID GREGORY: Such – only an American story, as the President often reminds you. And I think it was because of that success being so unlikely that there was so much expectation therefore projected onto him because was the singular figure. And I think the President is still trying to recover from the leadership deficiencies he's had actually operating in Washington given this aura that surrounded him overcoming those things.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014