Gregory Ignores Pelosi's Flub, Treats Retort to Bush on al-Qaeda in Iraq as Credible

Asked by a reporter about how “President Bush today blamed the surge of violence in Iraq on al Qaeda,” incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded with a disjointed answer about how “the 9/11 Commission dismissed that notion a long time ago and I feel sad that the President is resorting to it again." Though al-Qaeda is clearly in Iraq and responsible for deadly bombings, and the 9/11 Commission conclusion was about links before September 11th, on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News reporter David Gregory treated Pelosi's off-base retort as credible and relevant. Without suggesting any miscue by her, Gregory segued to Pelosi's soundbite with a bewildering set up of his own about how “incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disagreed, warning that such rhetoric about al Qaeda will make it harder for Democrats to work with the White House."

On FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, after panelist Mara Liasson characterized Pelosi as “confused” and Morton Kondracke suggested she was just “mixed up,” Fred Barnes maintained that “she clearly screwed up here. The question was absolutely clear. 'President Bush today blamed the surge in violence in Iraq.'” Barnes argued the media wouldn't let a Republican get away with such a flub, telling Kondrake: “If some Republican had done this, if Bush had done this at a press conference, if Newt Gingrich had said it, if John Boehner had said it, if Roy Blunt had said it, you'd have been all over it. It would be inexcusable."

Neither ABC's World News or the CBS Evening News played the Pelosi soundbite.

The relevant portion of the story from David Gregory, who filed from Riga, Latvia, on the November 28 NBC Nightly News:
David Gregory: “Iraq's worsening civil war will dominate the President's meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Concluding his visit to Estonia earlier today, Mr. Bush blamed the violence not on civil war but on Sunni terrorists.”

President Bush at a press conference in Estonia: “There's a lot of sectarian violence taking place, fomented in my opinion because of these attacks by al Qaeda, causing people to seek reprisal. And we will work with the Maliki government to defeat these elements.”

Gregory: “Back in Washington, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disagreed, warning that such rhetoric about al Qaeda will make it harder for Democrats to work with the White House.”

Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “The 9/11 Commission dismissed that notion a long time ago and I feel sad that the President is resorting to it again.”
FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, but anchored by Jim Angle, led its panel segment with Pelosi's exchange with the reporter, identified on-screen as Thomas Ferraro: “President Bush today blamed the surge of violence in Iraq on al-Qaeda and denied the country is in the midst of a civil war.”

After Liasson and Kondracke tried to explain Pelosi as “confused” and “mixed up,” Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of the Weekly Standard, retorted:
“She clearly screwed up here. The question was absolutely clear. 'President Bush today blamed the surge in violence in Iraq.' This is not -- the question is what about al Qaeda back before 9/11 or before we invaded or was there a link. The question was clear. She gave an answer that was about something else. She doesn't seem to think that al Qaeda is active there in Iraq, which it is. According to her answer. Now, if some Republican had done this, if Bush had done this at a press conference, if Newt Gingrich had said it, if John Boehner had said it, if Roy Blunt had said it, you'd have been all over it. It would be inexcusable.”

Morton Kondracke: “Oh, please, oh that's nonsense.”

Barnes: “Look, Nancy Pelosi is now going to be the Speaker of the House. Her party won. She did a tough job leading them in the last two years and we shouldn't go around just excusing the things she says, when you don't know what really happened.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center