Williams Slobbers Over Obama; Couric Counters McCain on Surge

In interviews aired Monday night, NBC's Brian Williams slobbered over Barack Obama while CBS's Katie Couric told John McCain the surge in Iraq has not been a success and pressed Mitt Romney to apologize for his negative ads. Riding on a bus in New Hampshire the day before the Granite state's primary, Williams showed Obama the Newsweek with the Democratic candidate on the cover and wondered: “How does this feel, of all the honors that have come your way, all the publicity? Who does it make you think of? Is there, is there a loved one?”

This week's Newsweek cover has a picture of Obama with an Obama quote: “Our time for change has come.” The headline over the cover story by Richard Wolfe, a frequent guest of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann: “Inside Obama's Dream Machine.” The subhead hailed Obama as “an icon of hope.” Echoing that theme, Williams later observed how “in his stump speech, he now says 'we' instead of 'I.' The implication: What happened in Iowa was the start of a movement.”

In her sit-down on McCain's bus for the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric countered McCain's claim of success with the surge in Iraq:
You supported the surge and the surge was designed, ideally, to increase security so political reconciliation could take place. And as far as I can tell, Senator, political reconciliation still hasn't gotten very far, so can you truly say the surge was fully successful in term of what it was designed to do?
In a session with Mitt Romney, not on a bus, she pressed him: “Do you make any apologies for basically flooding the press with negative attacks about both Mike Huckabee and John McCain?”

The only thing more negative than a campaign ad attacking an opponent: Television news!

My November 28 NewsBusters posting, “NBC's Williams Avoids Controversy with Edwards, Not with Giuliani,” recounted how Williams went easy on another left-winger:
Three weeks ago, when NBC anchor Brian Williams interviewed Rudy Giuliani, Williams raised Giuliani's closeness to Bernard Kerik and pressed him on Iraq as he pointed out how 2007 had become "the bloodiest year" in the war, but in an interview with John Edwards aired Tuesday night, Williams stuck to softballs and didn't bring up the indictment of a major Edwards donor or push Edwards about how the "surge" in Iraq he rejected is working. The two interviews are the most recent in the "Making of the President" series on the NBC Nightly News...
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide a transcript of how Williams set up the January 7 NBC Nightly News segment, all of his questions to Obama and some of what else Williams said in reporting on Obama's campaign day:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: And now to our day with Senator Obama. He rocketed out of Iowa, and into New Hampshire, and this morning woke up to a poll showing a comfortable lead here over Senator Clinton. After a night in a motel with no hot water, and after very little sleep, it was off to his first of six campaign events. That meant onto the bus that is his traveling home.

WILLIAMS, STARTING TAPED PIECE: His handshake is firm, but his voice is not. Barack Obama saw a doctor for his ragged throat last night. What was the doctor's recommendation?

[OBAMA: Shut up.]

The doc ordered him to drink tea and stop talking. He followed exactly half that advice. On the bus ride along the snowy road to Lebanon, New Hampshire, I showed him this week's Newsweek, hot off the presses. How does this feel, of all the honors that have come your way, all the publicity?

[OBAMA: I'd not seen this. It's quite something.]

Who does it make you think of? Is there, is there a loved one?

[OBAMA: You know, it makes me think of my mom and the fact that, you know, she's not around to see it. I think she would've, she would have been, you know, proud and she would have cried...]

The Obama crowds are large and energized. They also tend to be young. Arriving in Lebanon, we discovered hundreds waiting in the cold, turned away at the capacity event. So he went to them.

How does that feel?

...

In his stump speech, he now says "we" instead of "I." The implication: What happened in Iowa was the start of a movement.

...

So many discussions of you come back around to the ugly topic of personal safety. Is it an issue that's ever-present in your life and in your marriage and in your relationships?

If some wish to define you largely by race using titles or labels like "first African-American victor in the Iowa caucuses," and that's not necessarily how you see yourself. How do you reconcile the two?
Williams' “Daily Nightly” entry on his day in New Hampshire.

After a 30 second ad, this link should cue up Flash video of the Williams segment with Obama as aired on Nightly News.
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