NBC Applauds Clinton's 'Vigorous Defense' Against 'Hostile Interrogation' By GOP

At the top of Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie hyped Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's performance during congressional testimony on Wednesday: "Vigorous defense. A fired up Hillary Clinton takes on her critics during her testimony about the terror attacks in Benghazi." Introducing a later report, Guthrie described it as "an emotional and at times heated appearance before Congress." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell decried "the hostile interrogation that Republican committee members gave Clinton over Benghazi." The headline on screen throughout the segment declared: "'It's Personal'; Clinton Gets Emotional During Benghazi Hearings."

On Wednesday's Today, Mitchell predicted a "grueling day" of testimony for Clinton, a point she reiterated on Thursday: "At the very onset of more than five hours of grueling testimony, Clinton showed rare public emotion, talking about the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi."

Mitchell gushed over Clinton on Nightly News Wednesday: "Parrying hostile questions all day, Clinton was also the political pro. Massaging big egos, sidestepping attacks when she could. When she couldn't, giving as good as she got."

During her Thursday Today report, Mitchell fretted over Benghazi remaining an issue for Clinton in the future:

She took the blame for the tragedy....But her Republican critics wanted to know what she knew and when she knew it....one Republican senator even suggested that Clinton had been faking the emotion that she displayed. That's a sign that they may well try to keep the Benghazi controversy alive if she runs for president.

On Wednesday's Today, Mitchell praised Clinton's "stellar term as the nation's top diplomat." Mitchell wrapped up her Thursday report by noting: "Clinton still leaves office next week more popular than any other modern secretary of state, except Colin Powell."


Here is a full transcript of Mitchell's January 24 Today report:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Vigorous defense.

HILLARY CLINTON: What difference, at this point, does it make?

LAUER: A fired up Hillary Clinton takes on her critics during her testimony about the terror attacks in Benghazi. And she's heading back to the Hill today as the man slated to replace her begins his confirmation hearings.

7:08AM ET SEGMENT:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton returns to Capitol Hill today, a day after an emotional and at times heated appearance before Congress to answer questions about the deadly terror attack in Benghazi, Libya. NBC's Andrea Mitchell has details on this story. Andrea, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: "It's Personal"; Clinton Gets Emotional During Benghazi Hearings]

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good morning, Savannah. Hillary Clinton is introducing John Kerry at his Senate confirmation hearing today, to the panel that he chaired. It's a safe bet Kerry will get a better reception than the hostile interrogation that Republican committee members gave Clinton over Benghazi. At the very onset of more than five hours of grueling testimony, Clinton showed rare public emotion, talking about the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi.

HILLARY CLINTON: For me, this is not just a matter of policy, it's personal. I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters, and the wives left alone to raise their children.

MITCHELL: She took the blame for the tragedy.

CLINTON: I take responsibility and nobody is more committed to getting this right.

MITCHELL: But her Republican critics wanted to know what she knew and when she knew it.

JOHN MCCAIN [SEN. R-AZ]: The American people deserve to know answers. And they certainly don't deserve false answers.

MITCHELL: Asking why repeated security warnings were ignored, even a cable Ambassador Stevens sent her on September 11th, the day of the attack.

BOB CORKER [SEN. R-TN]: These officials were screaming out for more security.

RAND PAUL [SEN. R-KY]: Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it's inexcusable.

MITCHELL: At times, Clinton fired back.

MICHAEL MCCAUL [REP. R-TX]: So I think when you have a United States ambassador personally warning about the situation over there, sending this cable to your office-

CLINTON: If I could, 1.43 million cables a year come to the State Department, they are all addressed to me.

RON JOHNSON [SEN. R-WI]: We were misled that there were supposedly protests and then something sprang out of that, an assault sprang out of that.

CLINTON: The fact is we have four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans. What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.

MITCHELL: Still, even some Republicans acknowledged this won't be Clinton's last act in politics.

STEVE CHABOT [REP. R-OH]: I wish you the best in your future endeavors, mostly.

[LAUGHTER]

MITCHELL: But one Republican senator even suggested that Clinton had been faking the emotion that she displayed. That's a sign that they may well try to keep the Benghazi controversy alive if she runs for president. Clinton still leaves office next week more popular than any other modern secretary of state, except Colin Powell. Savannah.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Andrea Mitchell in Washington, thank you.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC