Assuming he even tried, Brian Williams could not suppress his smirk Tuesday night as he took a shot at a guest who had appeared earlier that day on CNBC. Businessman and Mitt Romney support Ken Langone said that President Obama's anti-business rhetoric and lack of leadership was preventing a true economic recovery from taking hold, exclaiming at one point that "businessmen and fat cats need to feel like they're doing something good, not that they're villains and not that their criminals."
In response, Williams decided to carve out a full minute from from his Nightly News to regale viewers with a sarcastic shot at Langone from the left-wing Gawker.com: "The writer John Cook on the Web site Gawker said, "Why should you make fat cats feel badly about getting fat, while the middle class taxpayers who financed that bailout slide into poverty? They need to be made to feel good about earning record profits!"
Williams made clear his politically-correct lens at the start of his piece: "Here's something you don't hear every day, because people usually don't say it out loud. Ken Langone is a businessman, co-founder of Home Depot, a philanthropist, and an ardent foe of President Obama. And this morning on Squawk Box on CNBC, under questioning by Andrew Ross Sorkin, he said this."
Nightly News viewers then saw the following clip from Squawk Box, followed by Williams reading Gawker's put-down of Langone:
KEN LANGONE: If we change the faces in the White House, we're on the road to recovery. I believe -
CNBC's ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: Do you believe it's that simple?
LANGONE: I believe it's that's simple. We need leadership, we need cheerleading, we need encouragement. Businessmen and fat cats need to feel like they're doing something good, not that they're villains and not that their criminals.
WILLIAMS: As you might imagine, people had at Mr. Langone all day. The writer John Cook on the Web site Gawker said, "Why should you make fat cats feel badly about getting fat, while the middle class taxpayers who financed that bailout slide into poverty? They need to be made to feel good about earning record profits! It's hard enough without cheerleaders." End of quote.
Williams could have quoted even snottier elements of the online jab that evidently delighted him. "Hey! Billionaires have feelings, too, you know. Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone took to CNBC this morning to defend their honor from that bully Barack Obama, who is killing the economy by refusing to literally dance for them while holding pom-poms made of shredded cash," Gawker mocked.
Langone's obvious point -- so obvious, that it should go without saying but sadly must be spelled out for liberal media types -- is that Obama's deliberate anti-business rhetoric is fundamentally at odds with generating the psychological conditions for a strong recovery. Some businesses may be alarmed by the left-wing rhetoric, while others may ignore it, but no profit-seeking capitalist will be encouraged to take risks in such a climate.
In a piece of the CNBC discussion not shown to Nightly News viewers because it could not as easily be mocked, Langone condemned Obama for choosing petty and divisive class warfare tactics over genuine leadership:
LANGONE: Dammit, leadership is critical in anything you do in life, and this is not -- I'm sorry -- this is not leadership. This is politics, frankly, at its worst. Not at its best, but at its worst. And we need to fix it....I leave you with a parting shot: Don't sell America short. We're the greatest country on earth, we're going to get our bearings back. We're going to succeed.