Getting a glimpse of the kind of real reporting that can occur on NBC Nightly News when Brian Williams isn't in the anchor chair, on Sunday's edition of the program, weekend anchor Lester Holt informed viewers that "official photo releases" from the Obama administration were "at the center of an escalating battle between the White House and the news media over access and image control." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, White House correspondent Kristen Welker cited National Journal's Ron Fournier calling "images like these pure propaganda, arguing the Obama White House consistently blocks journalists from events they routinely covered in previous administrations." A sound bite followed of Fournier warning: "The White House is getting most of the control. That's not healthy for democracy."
Teasing an upcoming story on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer fretted over "the emotional debate ignited by a Fox News anchor over Santa's true race," referring to FNC host Megyn Kelly saying that Santa Claus is white. Minutes later, news reader Natalie Morales promoted the same segment by proclaiming: "Why St. Nick has suddenly become the most controversial figure of the season." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, correspondent Kristen Welker declared: "This debate is focused on Santa Claus, but really it's about a much larger issue in this country – the issue of race. And it all started when a popular cable news anchor declared Santa is white....Words that got her on the naughty list of some news organizations, pundits, and late-night comedians."
In an interview with Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn on Wednesday's MSNBC Andrea Mitchell Reports, fill-in host and NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker desperately attempted to blame Republicans for the disastrous ObamaCare website rollout: "Congress repeatedly refused to authorize requests by the Obama administration for additional funding for the rollout of the health care law. Administration officials say that funding potentially could have made a difference. So does Congress, do your colleagues bear any responsibility for this rocky rollout for refusing that funding?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Blackburn easily dismissed the absurd notion with a fact check: "I would remind you that most website developers say an aggregator website, such as what healthcare.gov is, could be built easily for a half a million dollars. They have spent a half a billion dollars."
A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll produced a finding that must have delighted the entire NBC staff. The poll found that 53 percent of Americans blame congressional Republicans for the current government shutdown, while 31 percent blame President Obama. For the record, 13 percent said both were equally to blame. The pollsters did not allow respondents to blame Democrats in Congress.
This may have been one finding from a survey of only 800 adults in a nation of more than 300 million people, but MSNBC weekend anchor Alex Witt and her correspondents were so thrilled with the result that they repeated it nine times over three hours of Weekends with Alex Witt on Saturday. [See video below the break.]
This weekend’s editions of NBC’s Today show did their best to drive home the message that Republicans would be to blame for the government shutdown that went into effect last night. On Saturday’s Today, CNBC’s John Harwood showed up to analyze the situation. The chief Washington correspondent did not mince words as he told anchor Erica Hill who would be responsible for the oncoming shutdown:
“There is no doubt that if we have a shutdown, Republicans are going to get blamed for it for the simple fact that the whole country will see that this is a shutdown brought on by the Republican Party. Democrats are not making any demands, Erica. The only people making demands here are Republicans.” So I guess requiring every American to purchase health insurance or pay a fine doesn’t count as a demand? [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
At the end of Monday's Andrea Mitchell Reports, fill-in host Kristen Welker teed up a taped congratulatory message of Mitchell marking the fifth anniversary of Rachel Maddow's left-wing MSNBC show: "It is a very special day here at MSNBC. Five years ago, The Rachel Maddow Show made its debut. Rachel, congratulations from all of us. And Andrea, even though she's on the road, wanted to be sure to send along her good wishes to her dear friend." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Mitchell gushed to Maddow: "Rachel, my friend, happy fifth anniversary. This is a big deal, so we put together a small tribute here. Some of our favorite Rachel Maddow moments. Enjoy and congratulations to you and your team for the next five, and five more after that." As the clips began to run, the song "Simply the Best" provided a soundtrack.
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."
The journalists at Good Morning America on Wednesday could barely contain themselves, hailing the compromise over gun control legislation as a "major," "big, significant breakthrough." Guest host Elizabeth Vargas marveled, "Boy, is that big news."
Yet, the reporters on NBC offered less effusive coverage. Today's Kristen Welker conceded, "Democrats had been hoping for background checks to be universal. They didn't get that. This is going to be a pared down, watered down version of background checks." She asserted, "The deal is far less than the President was hoping for." In contrast, ABC's Jon Karl promoted, "And it is a big, significant breakthrough. It doesn't get you all the way there, but it gets you a long way there." Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos trumpeted, "Looks like a major breakthrough."
On Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie heralded that Connecticut had "approved some of the tightest gun control legislation in the country as President Obama is pushing for tougher laws nationwide." The headline on screen proclaimed: "Tough New State Gun Laws; Connecticut Governor to Sign Sweeping Gun Control Bill."
In the report that followed, White House correspondent Kristen Welker touted President Obama's cross-country trip "aimed at campaigning for stiffer gun laws," but lamented that such legislation was "virtually stalled in Congress." She then optimistically declared: "It's a different story in the states in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. This morning, the Connecticut state legislature passed some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, expanding background checks and adding 100 guns to the list of banned assault weapons."
On Tuesday's NBC Today, news reader Natalie Morales warned viewers: "With a potential government shutdown looming later on this month, the White House may have to cancel its annual Easter Egg Roll." In the report that followed, White House correspondent Kristen Welker added that the "event might be in jeopardy....due to the ongoing budget battles here in Washington." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
While Welker simply repeated administration talking points without skepticism, she completely ignored the fact that just days ago, during a Fox News interview on March 15, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney testily told anchor Jenna Lee that while tours of the executive mansion had been cancelled, the Easter Egg Roll was safe: "Well actually, Jenna, again, if you did a little reporting...it's paid for by the sale of those eggs that come out, as well as from donations on the outside, so it's a totally different budget. These are apples and oranges."
The Today show on Thursday allowed a scant 16 seconds, out of a possible four hours, to the claim by veteran journalist Bob Woodward that the Obama White House is trying to intimidate him and attack his coverage of the sequester cuts. The NBC program also avoided using the word "threat."
ABC's Good Morning America gave the most coverage to the battle, offering a full report and a news brief. [See video below. MP3 audio here.] CBS This Morning covered the story as part of a bigger report on the looming cuts. On Today, reporter Kristen Welker blandly explained, "As a backdrop to all of this, veteran reporter Bob Woodward is telling reporters that the White House is lashing out at him for writing an article which claimed that the sequester was all President Obama's idea." She then helpfully presented the President's case: "The White House has made the point that Republicans overwhelmingly supported the plan as well." This was the extent of Today's coverage.
In a report on Tuesday's NBC Today that only briefly mentioned criticism of First Lady Michelle Obama's appearance during Sunday's Academy Awards, White House correspondent Kristen Welker gushed that people were "still buzzing" over the "Oscar finale that no one saw coming."
Welker described Obama's recent "media blitz": "The First Lady has been popping up all over the place lately, on Jimmy Fallon, sharing a moment with Big Bird...And talking hairdos with Rachel Ray." Welker then cited New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor seeing it as "all a part of a carefully crafted PR plan." A sound bite of Kantor followed: "It's almost as if her real strategy is a kind of charm offensive that is then intended to build support for her husband's initiatives."
NBC continued to sound the alarm over the impending sequester on Saturday’s Today show. On a day when the CBS and ABC morning shows questioned how bad the cuts would really be, NBC ran a highly unbalanced story that mostly propagated President Obama’s doomsday scenario. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Co-anchor Lester Holt set the scene with a dire metaphor: “There's a storm of another kind brewing in Washington today. We're less than a week now away from mandatory government spending cuts going into effect.” The story, presented by White House correspondent Kristen Welker, went on to focus almost entirely on Obama’s warnings from his most recent weekly address. Welker played a clip from that address in which the president attacked Congress for failing to compromise. She also featured a sound bite of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warning of delayed commercial flights.
As the nation moves closer to the sequester, set to take effect on March 1, NBC is digging in its heels in opposition. On Saturday’s Today, the network ran a story that leaned heavily against the looming automatic spending cuts (surprise, surprise). NBC aimed right for the heart strings by featuring a Colorado high school counselor who had the following “message for Congress”: “At the time when we are looking at ways to keep our schools safer, these across-the-board cuts would impact those positions and those people who keep our schools safe.”
Very clever. It appears NBC is using the gun issue to try and persuade conservatives to give up on the sequester, which would cut spending by $85 billion and greatly help reduce the federal deficit. But NBC, like the president, is uninterested in deficit reduction through spending cuts. [Video after the jump. MP3 audio here.]
Marking Hillary Clinton's final day as Secretary of State on Friday's NBC Nightly News, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell gushed: "Clinton's State Department farewell was bittersweet. She took time to tour the building, saying goodbye to cafeteria workers....[her] departure had the energy of a campaign rally. As she left, some women were shouting, '2016.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Saturday's Today, White House correspondent Kristen Welker continued the lovefest, proclaiming that Clinton was "starting a new chapter in her storied life," and noting: "Her journey to secretary of state was somewhat improbable. From the White House's first lady, to the Senate, to a tough campaign against her now-former boss."
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, White House correspondent Kristen Welker touted President Obama gearing up for his second term: "An invigorated President Obama joined in a prayer service this morning....On Monday, resolve, defending entitlements and calling for action on climate change and gay rights, a broad liberal agenda."
Welker then heralded Obama appeasing the Democratic base in his inaugural address: "The President, once criticized by his own party's left for caving into Republicans, seemed emboldened by his reelection and ready for a fight." A sound bite followed of Time's Michael Duffy happily declaring: "Yesterday's speech at the Capitol was not about bipartisanship. It was about the agenda that Barack Obama, a Democrat, the direction he wants to take the country. Republicans can come along if they'd like."
On Thursday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams took time out of the broadcast to provide this supposed "news" update: "First Lady Michelle Obama turned 49 today. But the big news came as the First Lady's office inaugurated a Twitter account and sent out this picture showing the First Lady's new bangs. Which Vanity Fair's website instantly praised, calling them 'featherly,' and tracing their lineage in hair terms to Brigitte Bardot." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Coverage of the grooming development continued on Friday's Today as White House correspondent Kristen Welker proclaimed: "The buzz over her bangs was immediate. People magazine tweeted: 'Guess who's turning 49 with bangs? Yep. bday girl @michelleobama debuted a fab new cut.' Vanity Fair also weighed in, remarking, 'There's just no other way to put this – got bangs.'"
For three consecutive nights on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams proclaimed the country to now be in the "post-Newtown era," as he and reporters promoted how "the White House prepares its battle plan" to push for more gun control following the school shooting. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Tuesday, Williams kicked off the coverage by describing how "in our post-Newtown era," the Obama administration was "gearing up for a fight on this issue." In the report that followed, correspondent Ron Mott touted "a growing chorus of calls around the country for gun restrictions, in the wake of a spike in gun-related murders in cities like Chicago and Detroit and last month's tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut."
During a panel discussion on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Willie Geist touted an online White House petition to get Vice President Joe Biden his own reality show. Panelist and left-wing MSNBC host Alex Wagner raved: "Incredible idea, can I be the cameraman?...he's the most entertaining man in politics." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Wagner continued to gush over the gaffe-prone VP: "He says stuff off-the-cuff, he pushes the envelope....Joe Biden is an incredible figure in American politics. He has pushed the President to embrace gay marriage, inadvertently. He has these moments of color and humor. He's also killer, I mean he was the one that went in and cleaned up the entire fiscal cliff deal at the very last minute."
It seems apparent that NBC is following orders from The White House to continue to argue for stricter gun control in the wake of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Appearing on Thursday morning's Today, NBC’s White House Correspondent Kristen Welker continued to peddle The White House message to “pledge action to prevent such a massacre from every happening again.”
Welker provided a one-sided segment in favor of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s new gun control task force. The segment was peppered with gun control advocates and White House talking points, with only one pro-gun quote sited throughout the entire segment.
Demonstrating once more how the NBC Nightly News has become the big audience outlet for MSNBC’s left-wing angst, Brian Williams couldn’t even keep such silliness out of what should have been a light-hearted story on Mitt Romney’s lunch with President Obama. ABC and CBS managed to do that.
On NBC, however, reporter Kristen Welker charged “there was an awkward backdrop to this snap shot” of Romney and Obama shaking hands in the Oval Office. She cited “Romney saying President Obama won because he gave gifts to key constituencies” as well as Romney adviser Stuart Stevens daring to suggest Obama “was a charismatic African-American President with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical.”
In a fawning report on Wednesday's NBC Today on President Obama winning re-election, correspondent Kristen Welker provided gauzy commentary: "...the Chicago crowd was electrified as the President delivered a soaring speech in which he thanked all those who supported him, including his family....The President's daughters are a little taller, his hair grayer, but in his speech, Mr. Obama sounded a lot like the man America first elected four years ago." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Welker touted how "the President struck a tone of healing" and "joked that unlike 2008, the first daughters will not be getting a dog this year." She also noted that one of Obama's first phone calls "was to former President Bill Clinton, of course, one of his top surrogates during this campaign season."
On Tuesday's NBC Today, correspondent Kristen Welker described an Obama campaign "filled with anticipation and nostalgia" and the President giving his final stump speech in Iowa "With an eye on his future" and having "reached back to the past." Welker continued to fawn: "...the state which gave Mr. Obama his first 2008 victory, launching his improbable and historic journey. An emotional night, even for a president known for keeping his cool." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Later in the report, Welker touted: "And while [Obama's] top surrogates stormed the battleground states, some of the biggest names in entertainment also lent their voices, from Jay-Z to Bruce Springsteen..."
Trying to do some cheerleading for President Obama on Friday, NBC's Today touted the First Daughters as a major boon to his reelection, as co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: "...with the election just about five months away, Malia and Sasha are stepping forward a little bit. So are they a good way to connect with voters?...are they his secret weapon in the upcoming campaign?"
Introducing the pro-Obama fluff as legitimate news, co-host Ann Curry talked about the President as if he were a summer action flick: "Like most parents, President Obama loves talking about his kids. But during an election year, those stories might also just help him out at the box office."
On Tuesday's NBC Today, correspondent Kristen Welker amazingly shoe-horned a swipe at Republicans into a report about Commerce Secretary John Bryson causing multiple car accidents over the weekend, claiming that a tweet from a GOP super-PAC about the incident was "a sign of how contentious the campaign season has gotten." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
After quoting the tweet in question – of American Crossroads joking about Bryson's odd series of fender-benders – Welker then quoted another tweet shortly after that apologized. A sound bite then followed of left-wing Washington Post opinion writer Jonathan Capehart, who eagerly seized on the Twitter postings: "We always knew that it was going to be a negative campaign. But we're beginning to see just how low and how negative it can get."
Leading off Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams enthusiastically touted the President's fundraising efforts: "President Obama cashing in the day after his gay marriage announcement." Moments later, Williams proclaimed: "Tonight, it is clear President Obama is hoping, at least, to capitalize on the history he made yesterday, becoming the first American president to come out in favor of same-sex marriage."
Williams fully embraced the cynicism of Obama's sudden flip-flop on the issue, noting how the President would be "appearing before a sympathetic audience tonight" of big-money campaign donors who "might not have been so sympathetic to the President before the gay marriage announcement."
At the top of Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams did his part for President Obama's re-election as he announced: "Game on. The President and Vice President hitting it hard tonight on the campaign trail." Introducing the supposed news report, Williams touted how Republicans were "eating up time and money and effort" in the primary race, while "Democrats were in full fall campaign mode."
White House correspondent Kristen Welker sounded more like the White House press secretary as she set up a string of sound bites from Obama and Joe Biden: "President Obama defended his energy policy in suburban Maryland today, and attacked his GOP rivals....Assuming the traditional vice presidential role of campaign attack dog, Biden bared his teeth before a receptive audience of auto workers in politically-important Ohio....he slammed the Republican candidates who opposed the auto bailout." Not a single Republican sound bite was included.
After 19 days of controversy, CBS Evening News on Tuesday finally got around to covering the growing dispute between the Obama administration, who wants to impose a mandate for sterilizations and birth control on religious institutions, and the Catholic Church and its allies, who see it as a violation of religious liberty. All of the Big Three networks' evening newscasts on Tuesday covered the issue.
On Wednesday morning, CBS This Morning was actually the only network morning show that devoted a segment to the "hot-button issue," as anchor Gayle King labeled it. NBC's Today show gave a mere news brief on the "uproar" over the new federal policy, while ABC's Good Morning America ignored it.
By daring to stand up for herself in recent exchange with President Obama, the media quickly labeled Arizona Governor Jan Brewer a villain. On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams was aghast: "Who have you ever seen talking to the president like this?....The governor of Arizona with her finger in the face of the President of the United States. You don't see that often or maybe ever." [Listen to the audio or watch the videoafter the jump]
Earlier this week, both NBC's Today show and the NBC Nightly News made a point of informing viewers that President Obama's Gallup Daily Tracking Poll numbers had improved significantly since the Republican House caved on the payroll tax cut extension. The NBC Nightly News on Tuesday even highlighted the outdated numbers from Monday that were more positive for Obama, while merely noting as an afterthought the more recent Tuesday numbers that showed the trend starting to reverse back against the President.