Another example of network journalists creating their own self-fulfilling story. On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams set up a full story on how President Bush has returned to his Texas ranch “after an overseas trip that was not supposed to be about Iraq, but that topic ended up following him all the way around the world.” As if reporters, who were the ones posing the questions to him about Iraq and making it a topic on their newscasts, had nothing to do with it! Then, over video of Bush trying to open the closed doors in China, David Gregory opened his piece by finding deep meaning in the minor incident: “The President's botched exit from an impromptu press conference spoke volumes about this latest trip abroad." Gregory proceeded to act as if reporters were mere observers when they were directly responsible for imposing their news agenda: "All this month, from Latin America to Asia, foreign travel has provided Mr. Bush no escape from his political troubles. In Argentina, trade talks collapsed overshadowed by anti-America protests and persistent questions about Karl Rove and the CIA leak investigation." (Full transcript follows.)
On November 4, the night of Bush's press conference in Argentina, a NewsBusters item recounted how “the broadcast networks...treated as of great import how President Bush was 'dogged' at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, with questions about Karl Rove and the CIA leak matter -- a self-fulfilling agenda since those questions were posed by reporters from the Washington press corps. In short, the media made its agenda the news and then marveled over it.” NBC's “Brian Williams stressed how Bush's 'political troubles following him to Argentina from faraway Washington.' Kelly O'Donnell zeroed in on how Bush's 'domestic woes came along, too' with 'four of five' press conference 'questions related to the political fallout from the CIA leak case.'”
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video of the November 22 NBC Nightly News story:
Brian Williams, with “Rough Road”graphic beside him: "President Bush is back on U.S. soil tonight on his way to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, for the Thanksgiving holiday after an overseas trip that was not supposed to be about Iraq, but that topic ended up following him all the way around the world. The President may have thought he was leaving that and other political troubles behind, but, as NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory reports tonight, it didn't happen that way."
With “Long, Strange Trip” at the bottom of the screen, David Gregory began over video of Bush and the door: "In China over the weekend, the President's botched exit from an impromptu press conference spoke volumes about this latest trip abroad."
George W. Bush: "I'm trying to escape; it didn't work."
Gregory: "All this month, from Latin America to Asia, foreign travel has provided Mr. Bush no escape from his political troubles. In Argentina, trade talks collapsed overshadowed by anti-America protests and persistent questions about Karl Rove and the CIA leak investigation."
Bush, in Argentina, November 4: "I understand the anxiety and angst by the press corps to talk about this."
Gregory: "In Asia, it was the increasingly bitter debate over Iraq hounding the President, putting him on the defensive about when troops would come home."
Bush at military base in South Korea: "One of our top commanders in Iraq, Major General William Webster, says that setting a deadline for our withdrawal from Iraq would be, quote, 'a recipe for disaster.'"
Gregory: "And when the White House first attacked Congressman John Murtha, comparing him to filmmaker Michael Moore after his call to bring U.S. troops home within six months, Mr. Bush felt the need to tone down the White House rapid response."
Bush at press conference: "This is not an issue of who's patriot and who's not patriotic. It's an issue of an honest, open debate about the way forward in Iraq."
Gregory concluded: "Beyond the war, the President's Asia tour produced little. No agreements on issues from trade to security to human rights. Perhaps the highlight was Mr. Bush's four-hour finale in Mongolia. A warm reception in a country that has its own troops in Iraq. In the end, Mr. Bush's trip met the White House's own low expectations, producing no breakthroughs and no distraction from the war of words back home. David Gregory, NBC News, the White House."