Of the three network morning shows, only Good Morning America has highlighted conservative outrage over Barack Obama's decision to limit the situations in which the America can use nuclear weapons. CBS's Early Show has mostly ignored the development.
On Wednesday's Today, reporter Mike Viqueira enthused, "...It was Prague about a year ago when the President made a speech outlining his vision for a world with no nuclear weapons. Well this is a start in the right direction."
On GMA, Jake Tapper alerted, "The pledge fueled conservative outrage across the air waves." He then played a clip of Rudy Giuliani and one of Rush Limbaugh slamming the President for "announcing to every regime out there, under circumstances they can nuke us."
In contrast, CBS's Early Show only discussed the story in a news brief on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the program skipped covering it completely. On NBC's Today, Viqueira featured no conservative or Republican voices to express outrage, despite calling the policy "controversial."
GMA co-host George Stephanopoulos, who asserted that conservatives are "lashing out" over the deal, will be in Prague on Thursday to cover the treaty signing. On Friday, the former Clinton operative turned journalist will interview President Obama.
On Monday, he will talk to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about the nuclear weapons policy. Will Stephanopoulos adopt the balanced tone of Tapper and ask the tough questions of Obama and Medvedev?
A transcript of the April 7 segment, which aired at 7:11am EDT, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to shift gears now to the big story in Washington. Conservatives are lashing out at President Obama's change in U.S. nuclear policy, including a new pledge not to ever use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states that comply with the non-proliferation treaty, even if those states strike first with chemical or biological weapons. Jake tapper is in Washington with more.
ABC GRAPHIC: New Era in Nukes: President Policy Faces Criticism
JAKE TAPPER: Good morning, George. Well, that's right. President Obama says the policy will limit the use of nuclear weapons while keeping the U.S. safe and secure. But conservatives and Republicans have their doubts. President Obama is pledging to not use nuclear weapons against any country that has assigned and is abiding by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, even if they attack the U.S. with chemical or biological weapons. This pledge has Republican critics up in arms.
REP. MICHAEL TURNER (R-OH, Armed Services Committee): It does, overall, diminish our operations. And, I think, certainly, that the American people should be concerned.
TAPPER: In a statement, Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl expressed concerns that "the Obama administration must clarify that we will take no option off the table to deter attacks against the American people and our allies." The pledge fueled conservative outrage across the air waves.
FORMER MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI: Seems to me, he has got his eye off the ball.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: Announcing to every regime out there, under circumstances they can nuke us.
TAPPER: But, the Obama administration says the new approach is aimed in many ways at Iran and North Korea. By not complying with the non-proliferation treaty, by pursuing weapons, they will now be less safe.
ROBERT GATES (Secretary of Defense): If you're not going to play by the rules, if you are going to be a proliferator, then all operations are on the table in terms of how we deal with you.
TAPPER: And former Bush State Department official Nicholas Burns agrees.
NICHOLAS BURNS (Fmr. Under Secy. Of State for Political Affairs): The President is clearly signaling that we're decades away now from the end of the Cold War. That the real threats are terrorist groups. And they're the renegade states like Iran and North Korea.
TAPPER: And, George, as you know, this announcement was the first part of a week devoted to nuclear weapons. Tomorrow, President Obama will sign that disarmament treaty with Russia in Prague. And next week, he'll host a 47 nation nuclear security summit here in D.C. George?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, Jake, thanks. And we're going to have a lot more on this in the days ahead. Tomorrow, I'll be in Prague for that treaty signing. On Friday, we'll have an exclusive interview with President Obama. That will be followed on Monday, another exclusive interview, this time, with the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.