"NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams conducted an embarrassingly fawning interview with Michelle Obama on Wednesday's program regarding the subject of nasty Republicans and just how exciting the Democratic campaign is. At one point, he sympathetically questioned the politician's wife, "What of the attacks has busted through to you? What makes you angriest at John McCain, the Republicans? What's being said about your husband that you, you want to shout from the mountain tops is not true?"
More of the gushing interview aired on Thursday's "Today" show. During that segment, Williams cooed, "How often do you allow yourself to sit back and say, 'I can't believe this is happening? I can't believe we're doing this?'" Neither piece featured any tough questions. More representative were softballs about whether Mrs. Obama knows her husband will win or simply thinks it might happen.
In fact, after being told by the senator's wife that she tries to avoid reading and watching campaign news about her husband, Williams quietly murmured, "I understand."
During Wednesday's piece, attempting to wallow in identity politics, Williams awkwardly prompted Obama to expound on how historic it would be for her husband to move into the White House: "How do you begin to wrap your head around the bigger picture of, if you're successful, you'll move into a house where, when the Adams' moved in...slaves were finishing the plaster over the fireplace?" To this, Mrs. Obama remarked, "Oh, I don't go there too much. That's a lot. I mean, I'm aware of that history."
The "Nightly News" anchor's comments about sitting back and asking, "I can't believe this is happening?" seem remarkably similar to remarks made by ABC's "World News" host Charles Gibson. On a June 4 telecast, he asked Barack Obama whether he had sat alone and marveled, "Son of a gun, I've done this?"
A transcript of the August 28 "Today" segment and a partial transcript from the August 27 edition of "Nightly News" follow:
MATT LAUER: Back now to Barack Obama's big speech tonight. His wife Michelle will be in the crowd pulling for her husband every step of the way. Then they'll go on a bus tour of three key swing states. NBC's Brian Williams spoke with Michelle Obama in Denver on Wednesday. They talked about the attacks on her husband, life on the campaign trail and Senator Obama's chances this November.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Where your husband's hoped for victory is concerned on your part, are you an optimist meaning he'll win, I just know he will, or are you more of a fatalist? He'll win if it was meant to be?
MICHELLE OBAMA: It's more he'll win if it's meant to be. I just -- and I'm also a bit superstitious. I never claim it out loud. We just do the work. You know, I don't want to jinx it. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself.
WILLIAMS: How often do you allow yourself to sit back and say, 'I can't believe this is happening? I can't believe we're doing this?'
OBAMA: It is hard to. And I don't know whether I just don't allow myself to do it or whether things are just so busy that there really isn't time.
WILLIAMS: Would you be watching the Republican convention?
OBAMA: It depends on what's going on. You know, I'm probably going to be on the campaign trail. I will probably be -- I think I've got a couple of stops next week. So, you know, I tend to stay away from TV.
WILLIAMS: I understand.
OBAMA: I think I've implemented that, that rule for myself over the last 19 months. Papers, TV. You know, I kind of like my information filtered.
WILLIAMS: What of the attacks has busted through to you? What makes you angriest at John McCain, the Republicans? What's being said about your husband that you, you want to shout from the mountain tops is not true?
OBAMA: You know, I think everything I want people to know about Barack and about our family, I think I've said. I try not to take this stuff personally. I mean, we're not new to politics, by any stretch of the imagination. We've been through a tough state senate run. We know that part of politics is shaping, recasting, all that stuff. And I know that this election isn't about me. So it's been, surprisingly, for me, I haven't gotten riled up. You know, you just stay focused on the messages that we've learned that America wants to know, they want to understand who the Obamas are, but they want to know that they can believe in Barack and trust that he gets the struggles that they're facing and will be a compassionate and focused and hard-working leader.
WILLIAMS: How do you begin to wrap your head around the bigger picture of, if you're successful, you'll move into a house where, when the Adams moved in-
OBAMA: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
WILLIAMS: -slaves were finishing the plaster over the fireplace?
OBAMA: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
WILLIAMS: How does that work?
OBAMA: Oh, I don't go there too much. That's a lot. I mean, I'm aware of that history.
WILLIAMS: You'll go there if you're forced to go there.
OBAMA: That's right. It's, again, my pragmatic nature says first things first. We got to get through this convention, do it well, get on the road, work very hard to make sure people know what's going on. And then, assuming that we are successful, because we will be successful, then I think at that time that's when I'll start taking all of that stuff in.