With White House in Crisis, NBC Brings On Robert Gibbs to Spin for Obama

After playing a clip of Saturday Night Live mocking President Obama's "embattled second term" on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie sympathetically observed: "I guess if you're at the White House you laugh so you don't cry." She then turned to Obama's former press secretary Robert Gibbs and wondered: "What do you think the President's state of mind is right now? I mean, have you ever seen him like this, saying – acknowledging, 'I have a credibility problem'?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Gibbs responded by trying to insulate the President from any responsibility for the disastrous ObamaCare rollout: "I think he is obviously tremendously frustrated that no one told him the extent of this problem. I think that you, as the commander-in-chief and as the President of the United States, have to trust all of those around you to implement and I think there's no doubt a deficit of trust that's lead to that deficit of credibility."

Referring back to the SNL skit – that made Obama the star of a parody anti-depressant commercial – Guthrie asked Gibbs: "Do you think he's depressed?" Gibbs joked: "I think take two of those and call somebody in the morning."

Earlier in the exchange, after Guthrie suggested "the President's own credibility" was at stake, Gibbs called for someone to be fired – someone outside of the White House: "I think they're gonna have to hold somebody accountable for the botched rollout and the website not working. Somebody at HHS or a group of people at CMS....I think the only way to restore ultimate confidence in going forward is to make sure that whoever was in charge of this isn't in charge of the long-term health care plan."

NBC didn't bother to have any Republicans on the morning show to discuss ObamaCare and Guthrie failed to press Gibbs on whether he played a role in the deceptive promotion of the health care law in the first term.

In a report just prior to the appearance by Gibbs, White House correspondent Peter Alexander detailed the President's "to-do list" of ObamaCare damage control.


Here is a full transcript of Guthrie's November 18 exchange with Gibbs:

7:17AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Robert Gibbs is the former White House press secretary and advisor to the President's re-election campaign, an NBC News political contributor. Robert, good morning to you.

ROBERT GIBBS: Good morning.

GUTHRIE: This is a deadline that the White House set for itself. Can it afford another miss?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Presidential Damage Control; New Questions for White House as Deadline Looms]

GIBBS: Absolutely not. They've said they'll get 80% of it right. What makes the December 1st or November 30th deadline so important is that if you want your coverage to take effect on January 1st and not have a gap, you've got to be enrolled by December 15th. That's what makes the end of this month so very important.

GUTHRIE: If you boil this whole thing down, I think it comes down to o two core issues, the competence of the government – that's the website glitches – and the President's own credibility with the whole, "If you want your – to keep your plan, you can." How do you repair credibility?

GIBBS: Well, I think, look, in the short-term, as Peter said, they're just gonna have to slog it through and fix the website. That's the key there. I think longer term in credibility, I think they're gonna have to give people confidence, not just in health care, but in other aspects of government. And I think they're gonna have to hold somebody accountable for the botched rollout and the website not working. Somebody at HHS or a group of people at CMS.

GUTHRIE: You think somebody should lose their job?

GIBBS: I think if this were to happen in the private sector somebody would have probably already lost their job and I think the only way to restore ultimate confidence in going forward is to make sure that whoever was in charge of this isn't in charge of the long-term health care plan.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Will Dems Defect? Growing Concern With ObamaCare Mess]

GUTHRIE: You've been inside the White House in times of pretty dramatic political crisis. Saturday Night Live had a take on this, this weekend. Take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Are you feeling depressed? Run down? Like you just can't win? Are you the President of the United States? Ask your doctor for Paxil, second-term strength. The only anti-depressant strong enough for an embattled second term.

GUTHRIE: I guess if you're at the White House you laugh so you don't cry. But what do you think the President's state of mind is right now? I mean, have you ever seen him like this, saying – acknowledging, "I have a credibility problem"?

GIBBS: I think he is obviously tremendously frustrated that no one told him the extent of this problem. I think that you, as the commander-in-chief and as the President of the United States, have to trust all of those around you to implement and I think there's no doubt a deficit of trust that's lead to that deficit of credibility.

GUTHRIE: Do you think he's depressed?

GIBBS: I think take two of those and call somebody in the morning.

GUTHRIE: Robert Gibbs, always good to see you. Thank you.

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