NBC Pays Tribute to Bob Dole, Totally Skips His Tough New Words on VA Scandal

At the end of Friday’s NBC Nightly News, they aired a sugary Harry Smith profile of Bob Dole: “The body may be frail but the voice is unmistakable...Yeah, that's Bob Dole, once known as an attack dog, at 90 he purrs.”

NBC completely skipped what Dole had to say on the front page of Friday morning’s USA Today, that the current handling of veterans in the VA health system is a “disaster.” Susan Page had the story in an exclusive interview (NBC video below):

In an interview with USA TODAY's Capital Download, Dole, now 90, spoke with apparent anguish about whether that shake-up should include VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. Dole had introduced Shinseki at his Senate confirmation hearings in 2009, praising his military service and calling the retired Army general a "true American hero."

"I have mixed feelings," Dole said when asked whether Shinseki should be replaced.

"He should stay until the White House gets this investigative report that they're doing, until we get the facts, and you see what you can lay at his feet and what his response has been." But he went on: "If the facts reveal that he neglected his duties, then he should go."....

"You shouldn't keep a veteran waiting three months to see a doctor," Dole told the weekly video newsmaker series, saying the situation required "an urgent response." He faulted President Obama for being slow to recognize the seriousness of the situation.

"I don't want to be critical of the president, but he waited 23 days before he responded, and I think he should have done it sooner," he said.

NBC offered a nice story about Dole, but they had no mention of his tough new words:

Brian Williams and NBC weren’t so gooey when Dole was the GOP nominee in 1996. When news broke that the Clinton White House kept FBI files on Republicans, Williams painted Dole as the bad guy: "The politics of Campaign '96 are getting very ugly, very early. Today, Bob Dole accused the White House of using the FBI to wage war against its political enemies." But at 90, it’s all smiles:

SMITH: Dole told me he thought he would run into an old friend or two, maybe even have time for coffee. Instead, there are crowds.

DOLE: It makes you feel good that people even remember your name, let alone come out to see you.

SMITH: People who remember that he fought for them on the battle field and in Washington.
(to Dole): Do you know how much they love you?


DOLE: Yeah, they seem to think I did a good job. So I’ll have to go back and check my record.

SMITH: Ask any Kansan, they would say the record speaks for itself. Harry Smith, NBC News, Emporia, Kansas.

Maybe the anchor didn’t want to mention the new interview because Smith was in Emporia with Dole on May 15, so the story was a week old.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis