ABC and NBC Use False Talking Points to Counter Criticism of Obama's Vacation

Eager to defend President Obama from criticism of his vacation in Martha's Vineyard amid multiple international crises, both Sunday's ABC Good Morning America and Monday's NBC Today used false spin to downplay the bad optics. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

On GMA, co-host Dan Harris tried to deflect from Obama's time on the golf course by claiming that "George W. Bush played his fair share of golf during the Iraq war as well," an assertion that NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein promptly disproved.

On Today, White House correspondent Chris Jansing noted that "the President arrived here to Martha's Vineyard to a barrage of Republican criticism." She explained: "They want the U.S. to be more aggressive in Iraq. And in fact, they suggest that if that doesn't happen, President Obama is risking another 9/11."

Jansing quickly parroted administration talking points to blunt the criticism: "Now, the White House strongly rejects that assertion. They say ISIS, as dangerous as these terrorists are, has shown no desire to carry out 9/11-style attacks."

On Friday, however, The Daily Mail reported on ISIS using social media to announce its desire to attack the U.S.:

Supporters of the ISIS terror group tweeted thousands of messages on Friday bearing the hashtag #AmessagefromISIStoUS featuring gruesome photos and threats to U.S. soldiers and citizens after American airstrikes took out terrorist targets in Iraq for the first time.

Some tweeted photos depict dead U.S. Army soldiers, U.S. marines hung from bridges in Fallujah, decapitated men, human heads on spikes, and the twin towers in flames on September 11, 2001.


Here is a full transcript of Jansing's August 11 report on Today:

7:11 AM ET

MATT LAUER: While this is all happening in Iraq, critics are saying President Obama's air strikes are not enough. NBC's White House correspondent Chris Jansing is traveling with the President on Martha's Vineyard. Chris, good morning to you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: President Under Pressure; Questions Over Vineyard Vacation Amid Crisis]

CHRIS JANSING: Good morning, Matt. Well, the President arrived here to Martha's Vineyard to a barrage of Republican criticism. They want the U.S. to be more aggressive in Iraq. And in fact, they suggest that if that doesn't happen, President Obama is risking another 9/11. Now, the White House strongly rejects that assertion. They say ISIS, as dangerous as these terrorists are, has shown no desire to carry out 9/11-style attacks.

And I can tell you that talking to senior White House officials, the administration believes that these air strikes and the drops of food and water are proving effective.

Now, this morning they are keeping a close eye on Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, you just heard that from Keir [Simmons], who's making moves to try to keep his job. The U.S. believes only a new prime minister can unite and stabilize Iraq.

Members of the President's national security team are here in Martha's Vineyard with him. They brief him at least three times a day. And in the meantime, he has managed in two days, Matt, to get in two rounds of golf.

LAUER: Alright, Chris Jansing traveling with the President. Chris, thank you very much.

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