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.'"
In a report for Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Andrea Mitchell smeared the National Rifle Association as a group benefitting from tragedy: "Even as America was shaken by the horror of Newtown, the NRA escalated its rhetoric, claiming to add more than 100,000 new members, and taking a no-compromise stand....the NRA is raising money, e-mailing supporters to upgrade their membership for what it calls, 'the fight of the century.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the middle of the segment, a brief exchange was shown between Mitchell and NRA president David Keene. Mitchell quoted a fundraising email from the gun rights organization warning of President Obama's pursuit of gun restrictions and wondered: "Are they trying to scare gun owners?" Keene replied: "We're not scaring them. We're not saying that your rights are at risk. The President of the United States is saying that."
At the top of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams enthusiastically touted President Obama playing offense on gun regulations: "Fighting back. President Obama is out with his plan on gun control, the most sweeping in generations. As the NRA uses the President's own daughters in an attack ad."
Moments later, Williams framed the debate this way: "President Obama came out with his proposals for the most sweeping gun control measures in many years. The National Rifle Association launched a preemptive strike against it. It involved the President's family, in part. But this time they may have some formidable opposition to their position."
As MediaBistro's TVNewser blog noticed on Wednesday, an image of NBC Meet the Press moderator David Gregory was featured in the newly released ad by the National Rifle Association, labeling him to be one of several "elitist hypocrites" on the gun control issue. [Watch video of the ad after the jump]
At the top of Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer hyperventilated over a newly released ad from the National Rifle Association pointing out the hypocrisy of President Obama on gun control: "Getting personal. The National Rifle Association out with a powerful new ad this morning, bringing the President's family into the gun debate." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The ad in question simply noted that Obama's daughters were protected in school by armed guards while the President was pushing for gun restrictions. Introducing a report on the ad, co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed that it "gets very personal." Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd followed: "...the NRA is signaling it intends to fight the President, and it's using this new web video that hits close to home, targeting his daughters."
In part two of an interview with liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie wondered: "Your mom fell in love again late in life....Do you ever wonder if that might happen for you?...Where do you take a Supreme Court justice on a date?"
In the first part of the exchange aired on Monday, Guthrie asked about the role of the Court, on Tuesday, it was all about promoting Sotomayor's memoir, My Beloved World. Guthrie asked about the Justice's childhood and narrated: "Here, from the church she once attended with her aunt, to the library where she voraciously gobbled up books, the future Supreme Court justice was cultivating a love of the law from two unlikely legal influences: Nancy Drew and Perry Mason."
On Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer eagerly touted special correspondent Chelsea Clinton being a part of the festivities leading up to President Obama's inauguration: "She's going to talk about an important role that she is playing in President Obama's second inaugural, something I know she would like you to get involved in." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Before talking to Clinton about the upcoming event, Lauer explained: "President Obama will kick off his inauguration weekend on Saturday with a National Day of Service....the Obamas and Bidens will attend a service fair on the National Mall....NBC's special correspondent Chelsea Clinton is the honorary chair of that event."
Serving as President Obama's stenographer on Monday's NBC Nightly News, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd eagerly touted the President hammering Republicans on the debt ceiling during a midday press conference: "And with Washington once again careening toward a fiscal crisis...the President made it clear he intends to stand firm....[He] acknowledged Republicans could end up shutting down the government if he doesn't yield on spending cuts. But he warned against it." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
During the final press conference of Obama's first term, Todd urged the President to follow the recommendations of fellow Democrats and unilaterally raise the nation's debt limit without congressional approval: "Harry Reid sent you a letter, begging you, essentially, to take – consider some sort of executive action on this debt ceiling issue....Jim Clyburn asked you to use the 14th Amendment....He brought up the Emancipation Proclamation...he compared the debt ceiling to that. So are you considering a plan 'B'? And if not, why not?"
Interviewing Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor about her new memoir on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie worried that political division was undermining the high court: "Do you think that it's bad for the credibility of the Court as an institution if people have the perception that it is splitting along partisan or ideological lines?"
Sotomayor countered: "Yes. If I believed that that was the reason for the split, which I don't. The fact that there's a circuit split makes it clear that there are different ways of looking at the situation and that the answer is not a slam dunk." In response, Guthrie argued that "so-called liberals" take one side of a case, while the "conservative ideological bloc" takes the other.
On Friday's CBS This Morning, Bill Plante refreshingly spotlighted how firearms are used to protect the lives of ordinary Americans. Plante noted how the National Rifle Association "Tweeted a story...about Melinda Herman, a Georgia woman who shot an intruder in self-defense as she waited with her two children in a closet....She fired at the man multiple times with a .38 caliber handgun."
The two other Big Three morning shows failed to mention this story during their coverage of the current gun control debate. ABC's GMA actually minimized the air time they devoted to the issue. News anchor Dan Harris gave just one news brief to the next meeting of Vice President Joe Biden's gun violence task force:
In an interview with National Rifle Association president David Keene on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer wondered: "Do you have the support in Congress to block any federal ban on assault weapons in the coming year?...How close do you think Congress can get on that?" He then speculated: "People talk about the power of the NRA. They look at it almost, you know, in monumental terms. Do you think in the wake of these shootings that power has been eroded at all, Mr. Keene?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Keene rejected the framing of Lauer's question and explained: "Americans who believe strongly in the Second Amendment, and their right to own privately and use firearms for legitimate purposes, is a huge number of people who really care about these issues....it's not the power of the NRA, Matt. What it is, is the strength of belief among millions of Americans in their right under the Constitution to privately own firearms."
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."
ABC and CBS on Thursday hit Barack Obama from the left, fretting about a lack of diversity for his second term cabinet picks. The two network morning shows ignored substantiative criticism about Treasury Secretary choice Jack Lew, but highlighted the cutesy story of his messy handwriting.
Correspondent Jon Karl chided, "Well, some critics are looking at that emerging second-term cabinet and wondering, where are the women?" He touted a New York Times article fretting about the "all-male look" of the new picks. Karl noted that "the President will have to replace Jack Lew as chief of staff. The top candidates are, you guessed it, men." Rather than worry about meeting a liberal quota, Karl could have noted Lew's total lack of experience in business.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appeared on all three network morning shows on Wednesday and was greeted in each interview by the host seizing on his harsh words for congressional Republicans over a delayed vote on Hurricane Sandy relief. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: "You're not happy, it seems, with the course of the Republican Party right now. You blasted some Republicans in Congress last week after their inaction over Hurricane Sandy. You said they showed 'callous indifference, selfishness, duplicity,' they were, 'practicing toxic politics.' Strong letter to follow. Those aren't the words of a guy who's happy with his party."
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today, chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman voiced her support for a New York newspaper, The Journal News, publishing a list of addresses of local gun owners: "You have these sort of blind assumptions that when your child goes over to play with another kid, he or she is going to be safe. And I think that has been now negated. So I have no problem....we're not outing child molesters, this is a legal transaction, it's a public transaction." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Snyderman's declaration was prompted by fellow panelist, advertising executive Donny Deutsch, also standing by the paper's controversial action: "I think it's a great idea, I'll tell you why. I've got two little girls at home and I would like to know if they're going on a play date in a house where there's a gun....when you have a gun, you are setting yourself up as somebody different. It's your choice..."
In an interview with retired General Stanley McChrystal on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer grilled the former Afghanistan commander on his resignation following criticism of President Obama in a 2010 Rolling Stone article: "There were several demeaning quotes attributed to your staff members, even to you, about the President and about key members of his staff....Was he [Obama] furious about what had come out in that Rolling Stone magazine? Did he express displeasure with you?"
While McChrystal was supposedly on to promote his memoir, My Share of the Task, Lauer spent nearly the entire exchange harping on the two-year-old personal drama between the General and Obama: "Did you distrust the people at the White House? Did you distrust key members of the Obama administration when it came to their policy in dealing with Afghanistan?...Did you distrust the President and key members of the administration in terms of their handling of the war in Afghanistan?"
Exactly three years ago, on January 7, 2010, during a press conference regarding the 2009 attempted bombing of an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan declared to reporters: "I told the President today I let him down." That admission of responsibility for a major intelligence failure was completely absent from Monday's network morning show coverage of President Obama nominating Brennan to be CIA director.
While NBC, CBS, and ABC focused much of their attention on the President's nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense and the likely confirmation fight that would result, Brennan's nomination was only a brief side note.
Good Morning America's Martha Raddatz on Monday seemed perplexed as to why conservatives would oppose Chuck Hagel's nomination for Secretary of Defense. According to the journalist, one might think the former Republican senator is the "perfect choice," a man who "dared [to] speak out" against George W. Bush's troop surge in Iraq -- the same surge that candidate Obama later admitted had "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."
Raddatz mentioned concern about Hagel's stance toward Israel, but didn't explain what his "controversial" votes were. Instead, she blurbed, "You might think that a Republican Vietnam veteran, former senator with all kinds of foreign policy experience would be the perfect choice to ease the rancor on Capitol Hill." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Following Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's hospitalization this week for a blood clot, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell took to Friday's NBC Today to praise Clinton and her daughter Chelsea (who happens to be a special correspondent for NBC): "They may be the most recognizable mother/daughter duo in America....The indefatigable Hillary Clinton in a picture shown round the world, leaving the hospital Wednesday, hand in hand with Chelsea."
Mitchell, who has already provided fawning coverage of a potential Hillary presidential run in 2016, gushed over mother and daughter: "The special bond between Hillary Clinton and her only child has always been obvious. As a White House teenager, Chelsea often accompanied her mom on official trips....Chelsea became a valuable surrogate for her mother in the 2008 campaign."
At the top of Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer gushed over Vice President Biden doing a series of photo-ops while swearing in newly elected senators on Thursday: "Joe Biden welcomes lawmakers and their families to Washington like only he can." In a later report, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell glossed over several awkward moments caused by Biden: "There was certainly a lot of charm being poured on by the Vice President." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
A few minutes later, fill-in news reader Willie Geist played a brief montage of some of the especially odd comments by Biden, including the Vice President telling the husband of one senator, "Spread your legs; you're going to be frisked," and declaring after looking a woman up and down, "holy mackerel."
Despite John Boehner receiving overwhelming support from the Republican caucus to be reelected as Speaker of the House, NBC Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell hyped dissension in the ranks on Friday's NBC Today: "After a turbulent few weeks of setbacks that had cast doubt on his power and influence, a dozen rebellious conservatives turned against him, but Boehner had enough votes."
On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, O'Donnell proclaimed: "John Boehner's path to a second term as Speaker of the House has been rocky. But there was no challenge, only a handful of conservatives voted against him." That morning, Today co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed a "civil war" among Republicans over a Hurricane Sandy relief bill.
The way the news media fawned over the Democratic 111th Congress -- which passed the wildly unpopular ObamaCare -- while smearing the Republican House in the 112th is like a bad Saturday Night Live skit, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell told Sean Hannity on the January 3 edition of his eponymous Fox News Channel program.
"Look, what they're saying is, when the Democrats were in charge with the 111th Congress they did all these things moving the agenda to the left, and, oh happy days, look at all the wonderful left-wing things they did," Bozell noted, but then, "The112th Congress comes around and Republicans try to put a stop to the madness and it's called tyrannical." [Watch the full "Media Mash" segment in the embed below the page break]
At the top of Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer teased an upcoming interview with New York Congressman Peter King by seizing on House GOP disagreement over when to schedule a vote on a Hurricane Sandy relief bill: "...fresh off the fiscal cliff fight, the Republican Party appears in the throes of a civil war. This morning, we'll talk to an outspoken GOP congressman who urged voters in his district not contribute to Republican campaigns." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the exchange that followed, Lauer eagerly quoted King: "You said that Speaker Boehner had a, quote, 'Dismissive and cavalier attitude toward New York and New Jersey.' And you went further, you said, 'Republicans have no trouble finding New York when it comes to raising money. And I would just say to anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to Congressional Republicans after this should have their head examined.'"
After worrying on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News about possible House GOP "shenanigans" preventing a fiscal cliff deal, on Monday's Today, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd breathed a sign of relief: "...this 112th Congress does leave us today, and some people say finally leaves us today....it began with a threat of a government shutdown just two months into this congress. And then, of course, we had the debt ceiling showdown. Then it culminated with this fiscal cliff..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Picking up on Todd's rant against Congress, co-host Matt Lauer eagerly quoted New York Times columnist David Brooks: "If Congress couldn't make a single tough decision under these circumstances, why should we think it'll make any further down the road? More likely, there will just be more squabbling and brinkmanship, more posturing and punting, which could not only poison future budget talks, but also prospects for immigration reform, tax reform, gun control and many other projects."
Neither Todd nor Lauer laid any blame on President Obama for the contentious atmosphere in Washington.
Strangely missing from NBC's look back on the 2012 campaign were gaffes and controversial statements from the Obama-Biden campaign. Friday's Today featured a mini-blooper reel of GOP mishaps on the campaign trail, but made no mention of Democratic controversies.
In its lengthy string of highlights from the 2012 campaign, Today included Mitt Romney's infamous "47 percent" remarks along with Rep. Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" meltdown. Today said nothing, though, of Biden's controversial "chains" comments or Obama's "you didn't build that" remark.
With four days until the "fiscal cliff," CBS This Morning peppered its report on the Congressional negotiations with four Democratic sound bites compared to just one from Republicans.
Chief White House correspondent Major Garrett quoted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) three times and simply relayed his smear of Rep. John Boehner's Speakership as a "dictatorship." Both ABC and NBC called out Reid's rhetoric, however. [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
Both NBC and CBS covered the outrage Thursday morning over a New York newspaper publishing the names and addresses of gun permit holders in two counties. ABC made no mention of the controversy, however.
"A suburban New York City newspaper is in the middle of a big controversy this morning after it put up online the names and addresses of everyone with a gun permit," reported CBS This Morning co-host Jeff Glor. "Call it a battle between the First and Second Amendments," said NBC News correspondent Katy Tur on the Today show.
On Friday's Today, NBC's David Gregory used the Newtown tragedy to buttress President Obama's push for more gun control. During a heartbreaking story about the grieving father of shooting victim Emilie Parker, Gregory switched to a massive petition for the White House to pursue gun control.
"This morning, President Obama has posted this video response online to nearly 200,000 people that signed a petition on the White House website, pushing the President for action on gun control," reported Gregory. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
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.