Williams Hits Bush with Dyson's Charge 'Patrician' Upbringing Meant He Didn't Care
Williams soon demanded to know if Bush has “any moments of doubt that we fought the wrong war, that there's something wrong with the perception of America overseas?" When Bush replied that “the war came to our shores, remember that. We had a foreign policy that basically said let's hope calm works. And we were attacked," Williams gratuitously retorted: "But those weren't Iraqis." Williams also advocated a tax hike in the guise of a question: "The folks who say you should have asked for some sort of sacrifice from all of us after 9/11, do they have a case, looking back on it?" (Transcript follows)
An August 28 NewsBusters item, "NBC's Williams Showcases Left-Winger on Katrina/Race: Bushes 'Clueless Patricians,'" recounted how, on Monday's NBC Nightly News, Williams asked Dyson: "What was your reaction when Barbara Bush said they're really better off?" Dyson retorted: "Yeah, I'm a Christian minister man, so I always try to give love as the first response. But I'll tell you, when Barbara Bush said that, it reinforced the reputation of the Bushes as clueless patricians..."
The Bush interview, conducted outside in front of some newly built houses in New Orleans, led Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, with another segment -- in which Williams asked about Bush's reading habits and how he sees his legacy -- pulled up the rear of the newscast. MSNBC.com has posted a summary of the interview with quotes from Bush, accompanied by video of his which requires MSN software.
MSNBC's Hardball (hosted by Norah O'Donnell) led Tuesday night with Williams' Dyson “patrician” shot and Countdown with Keith Olbermann, but anchored by Allison Stewart, ran virtually all of what ran on the NBC Nightly News.
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript from near the top of the August 29 NBC Nightly News:
Brian Williams: "President Bush was here today and again admitted that the government response fell short at all levels, in his words. He spoke at the city's oldest high school. He visited local music legend Fats Domino. He covered a lot of ground, and in the blazing mid-afternoon sun, he took time for a wide-ranging and exclusive conversation with us. And we started with the topic at hand: his handling of the disaster that started with the storm that came ashore here a year ago today."
Williams, to Bush: "You have apologized for the damage, but what about the damage to your presidency? And, Mr. President, here's what I mean. Most of the analysts call it your low point. A lot of Americans are always going to believe that that weekend, that week, you were watching something on television other than what they were seeing, and Professor Dyson from the University of Pennsylvania said on our broadcast last night it was because of your patrician upbringing, that it's a class issue."
George W. Bush: "Dyson doesn't know, I don't know Dyson, and Dyson doesn't know me, but I will tell you this, when it's all said and done, the people down here know that I stood in Jackson Square, and I said we're going to help you, and we delivered."
Williams: "When you take a tour of the world, a lot of Americans e-mail me with their fears that, you know, some days they wake up and it just feels to them like the end of the world is near, and you go from North Korea to Iran to Iraq to Afghanistan, and you look at how things have changed, how Americans are viewed overseas, if that is important to you, do you have any moments of doubt that we fought the wrong war, that there's something wrong with the perception of America overseas?"
Bush: "Well, those are two different questions. Did we fight the wrong war? And absolutely I have no doubt. The war came to our shores, remember that. We had a foreign policy that basically said let's hope calm works. And we were attacked."
Williams: "But those weren't Iraqis."
Bush: "No, they weren't, they weren't, no, I agree they weren't Iraqis, nor did I ever say that Iraq ordered that attack, but they are part of, Iraq is part of the struggle against the terrorists. Now, in terms of image, of course I worry about American image. We're great at TV, and yet we're getting crushed in the PR front."
Bush: "I personally do not believe Saddam Hussein picked up the phone and said to al-Qaeda, 'Attack America.'"
Williams: "The folks who say you should have asked for some sort of sacrifice from all of us after 9/11, do they have a case, looking back on it?"
Bush: "Americans are sacrificing. I mean, we are, we are, you know, we pay a lot of taxes. Americans sacrificed when they, you know, when the economy went in the tank. Americans sacrificed when, you know, air travel was disrupted. American taxpayers have paid a lot to help this nation recover. I think Americans have sacrificed."
Williams: "Mr. President, I know how much you love deep psychological examinations of yourself. While you were at Kennebunkport this last weekend, people talked about your relationship with your dad. People mentioned that former President Clinton has been a guest at Kennebunkport more often in the last few years than you have been."
Bush, laughing: "Yes."
Williams: "And there was a lot of speculation, your spokesman Tony Snow recently all but said it's because of the way your father chose to end the first Gulf War that bin Laden saw weakness enough to strike the United States."
Bush: "I'm trying to figure out where you're going here."
Williams: "Is there a palpable tension when you get together with the former President who happens to be your father? A lot of the guys who worked for him are not happy with the direction."
Bush: "I know. Listen, my relationship is adoring son."
Williams: "Do you talk shop?"
Bush: "Sometimes. Yeah, of course we do, but that's a really interesting question. I mean, it's kind of conspiracy theory at its most rampant. My dad means the world to me, as a loving dad. He gave me the greatest gift a father can give a child, which is unconditional love. And, yeah, we go out and float around there trying to catch some fish and chat and talk. But he understands what it means to be President. He understands I have oftentimes have information that he doesn't have. And he also understands how difficult the world is today. And I explain my strategy to him, I explain exactly what I just explained to you down there about how I view the current tensions, and he takes it on board and he leaves me with this thought: 'I love you, son.'"