Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NBC has been the only Big Three broadcast network to look back to President Obama ridiculing Mitt Romney for calling Russia a U.S. "geopolitical foe" in 2012. On Wednesday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander reminded viewers: "Republicans have repeatedly attacked President Obama's Russia policy as weak and naive....Helping fuel that criticism, this moment from the 2012 campaign, where President Obama mocked Governor Mitt Romney for calling Russia America's number one geopolitical foe." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Neither ABC's Good Morning America nor CBS This Morning managed to work that into their coverage of the unfolding international crisis on Wednesday.
According to NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, It's an "outrage" that members of Congress didn't sit in rapt attention to every word of self-admitted "pothead" Seth Rogen. The comedian and actor appeared on Capitol Hill, Thursday, to testify on the issue of Alzheimer's disease. As is common, senators filtered in and out of the hearing. Later, Rogen took to Twitter, railing against the poor showing. NBC dutifully played along.
Williams alerted, "Still ahead for us tonight, outrage. A funny guy gets suddenly serious before a roomful of empty chairs in Washington." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] According to journalist Peter Alexander, the actor felt the sting of testifying "before a largely absent Senate subcommittee." Alexander sympathized, asserting this was an example of how "Washington wasn't listening." However, the practice is fairly standard as members have meetings, votes and other congressional duties.
CBS stood out as the only Big Three network to devote full coverage to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's Tuesday night stay of the federal government's birth control/abortifacient mandate under ObamaCare. As of Thursday morning, CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News devoted three full reports and a news brief to the ruling against the controversial regulation.
By contrast, NBC's morning and evening newscasts have only aired one news brief on Sotomayor's decision, and mentioned it in passing in two other reports on the Affordable Care Act. ABC has yet to report on the development on either Good Morning America or World News.
NBC's Today softened any criticism of ObamaCare on Monday at the deadline to purchase health coverage for the new year.
White House correspondent Peter Alexander framed long wait times on the Washington, D.C. health exchange as evidence of "a last-minute spike in demand." And even though he reported that current enrollment numbers are "far shy" of what the administration hoped for, Alexander cited "experts" downplaying the importance of the numbers.
Leading off a report on Monday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander skeptically observed: "The Obama administration says it met it's own goal of significantly improving the HealthCare.gov website, but that's the easy part. That's like kind of giving yourself a passing grade." At the end of segment, he noted insurance companies warning of the "logistical nightmare" caused by inaccurate information being entered into the ObamaCare database. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Despite such critical analysis of the health care law in the nearly 2-minute report, by Nightly News that evening, anchor Brian Williams reduced the news to a mere 28 seconds, emphasizing only the positive: "We have an update now on the HealthCare.gov website. It is now working better and faster, as the White House promised it would by now. But they say they know it is still far from perfect. By 5:30 this evening Eastern Time, the website had logged 750,000 visitors so far today. That's getting closer to that 800,000 daily user goal the rebooted site is supposed to be able to handle."
On Monday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander lifted talking points directly from an Organizing for Action email while reporting on the political fallout from ObamaCare: "With his signature law under fire, the President faces a daunting to-do list to resuscitate ObamaCare. Number one, fix the website....Number two, clear up confusion....Number three, keep Democratic allies on board....And finally, regain Americans' trust." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the OFA email, President Obama told his supporters: "I have just over three years left as president – and there's a lot left on my to-do list. That's why I want to talk with you....I want to cut through the noise and talk with you directly about where we're headed in the fight for change."
On Friday, NBC's Today tried to cast President Obama's Thursday press conference about the ObamaCare disaster in the most sympathetic light possible, with co-host Savannah leading off the show by proclaiming: "The humble president....President Obama does damage control on the botched health care rollout with his legacy hanging in the balance." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Introducing the segment moments later, Guthrie claimed the President was "falling on the sword over this health care rollout disaster." In the report that followed, White House correspondent Peter Alexander emphasized Obama's supposedly humility: "The President the first to admit that he has a lot of work ahead of him to regain the confidence of the American people....[he] was strikingly contrite."
Trying to deflect from the political damage ObamaCare has done to Democrats, on Monday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander hyped GOP divisions: "...the Republican Party is facing a war within....Republicans have an issue over defining their brand, an ideological civil war of sorts." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In an interview with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin following Alexander's report, co-host Matt Lauer sought to stoke that supposed "civil war": "[Governor Chris Christie] called the shutdown of the government and that strategy hatched by Ted Cruz and members of the Tea Party a 'monumental failure.' If you look at the results of the [New Jersey] election, isn't the message to the Tea Party that the middle ground, not the far right, is the most fertile ground for upcoming elections?"
Near the end of the fourth story on Monday's NBC Nightly News, White House correspondent Peter Alexander managed to squeeze in a mention of the network's scoop that the Obama administration knew for years that millions of people would be kicked off of their current health insurance plans because of ObamaCare, despite the President's repeated assurances to the contrary. [Listen to the audio]
Alexander provided a mere twenty-one seconds of air time for the revelation: "That millions will lose or have to change their individual policies is not a surprise to the administration. NBC News senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers found buried in the 2010 ObamaCare regulations, language predicting, 'A reasonable range for the percentage of individual policies that would terminate is forty percent to sixty-seven percent.'"
Eager to declare Republican defeat in the budget showdown on Wednesday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed: "As John McCain said, Republicans have to understand, 'We lost this battle.' Let's put this very simply, after a shutdown that lasted 16 days, a shutdown led by House Republicans who wanted to undermine the President's new health care law, by the end of today, those Republicans may leave with little to nothing...to show for it." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Savannah Guthrie used the same talking points in an interview with Republican senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Kelly Ayotte minutes later: "Some of your Republican colleagues over there [in the House] said you guys are the 'Senate surrender caucus.' Are you angry, embarrassed, frustrated?...Do they still need a reality check today? Do you agree with what Senator McCain said, which was essentially, 'This fight is lost, it's time to move on'?"
Wrapping up a report on the government shutdown for Thursday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander eagerly promoted negative political fallout for Republicans: "Both parties are taking a hit in their approval ratings as a result these days. But the damage to the Republican brand appears to be proving to be much worse. A new Gallup poll...shows only 28% of Americans say they have a favorable view of the Republican Party, that's the lowest number since they began asking that question twenty-one years ago." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
What Alexander didn't bother to mention was an Associated Press poll that showed President Obama's approval rating having dropped to 37%, with disapproval at 53%. Following Alexander's report, co-host Matt Lauer made a feeble attempt to provide balance to the slanted coverage: "No picnic in that [Gallup] poll for the Democratic Party either, but the Republicans seem to be taking the bigger hit at the moment." Again, no mention of Obama's low approval rating.
In a dramatically one-sided report on Monday's NBC Today about the government shutdown, White House correspondent Peter Alexander declared: "President Obama is sticking to his guns, demanding Republicans end the shutdown by passing a so-called 'clean C.R.,' a budget extension without any changes to the President's health care law." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
After a brief sound bite of Speaker John Boehner explaining that such a bill could not pass the Republican-controlled House, Alexander offered more administration spin: "The White House is challenging Boehner to put that to a test. And a pro-Obama group is accusing the GOP of being irresponsible."
In an effort to insulate President Obama from criticism during the government shutdown and focus all blame on members of Congress, NBC's Today created the Twitter topic #DearCongress to provide "a forum for you to vent." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
After urging viewers on Tuesday to use the hastag in their anti-Congress tweets, on Wednesday, the hosts of the network morning touted the success of the effort. Co-host Savannah Guthrie announced "growing public outrage on day two of the government shutdown." In a report that followed, White House correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed: "Across the country, a growing chorus of frustration....Americans stepping up to the mic under the #DearCongress, that launched...here on Today."
All three networks on Tuesday morning hyped the partial government shutdown with reports from closed museums in Washington D.C. and live shots of the Statue of Liberty. The journalists of ABC's Good Morning America informed Americans that Republicans would probably "blink first" in the stand-off with the White House and congressional Democrats.
NBC's Peter Alexander checked in live from Washington, touting the "4200 workers at the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo." He narrated, "We're now here in front of the National Air and Space Museum. They tell me last week they had 88,000 visitors come here. Today it'll be zero, the door's are locked." Alexander added, "And there's a very simple message posted to that front door, it reads, 'We apologize for the inconvenience.'" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
At the top of Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams issued a dire warning to viewers about the possibility of a government shutdown: "Time running out until a big deadline, now days away, and it's getting ugly in Washington. Tonight, can anything be done to save our government from itself?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Introducing the later report, Williams again hyped how "the tone is getting uglier than normal in Washington, as lawmakers argue over funding the health care law." Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd made it clear which party was being "ugly": "Another day of dysfunction and squabbling here in Washington as the clock ticks down for the potential government shutdown. Republicans trying to defund the President's health care law to do this shutdown."
Appearing on Thursday's NBC Today, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory was already predicting the GOP would get the blame for a government shutdown: "Washington loves to engage in the same kind of destructive behavior every couple years, whether it needs to or not....There's a universal feeling that the party that's more divided, that's Republicans, will feel most of the heat on this from the public..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Referring to the fast-approaching debt ceiling, co-host Savannah Guthrie fretted: "...we now have a date on the real doomsday...we will reach the borrowing limit in this country no later than October 17." Gregory warned: "Well, I think it is a real crisis point because we know the kind of economic shock that the world, and certainly the U.S. economy, could feel if they were to take that step. That's why nobody messes with this and they always end up raising the debt ceiling, whether they want to or not."
The network morning shows on Friday derided the move by House Republicans to defund ObamaCare as simply "bowing to demands" from the Tea Party. But it was CBS's Bob Schieffer who made no attempt to restrain his contempt, declaring the ObamaCare fight "over" and linking GOP members to elderly Japanese veterans of World War II who refused to accept that the fight was futile.
After noting that the Wall Street Journal derided the plan as a kamikaze move, the Face the Nation anchor built on the analogy, sneering, "But even more apt...way on into the 1950s when they go into the jungles of the Philippines and they find these Japanese soldiers that thought World War II was still going on?" This prompted This Morning hosts Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell to break up in laughter at the mockery of Republicans. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The Big Three network morning shows on Wednesday briefly noted the one-year anniversary of the Islamist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, but not one pointed out the latest development in the ongoing controversy over what happened. On Tuesday, CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reported on Twitter that Secretary of State John Kerry "tells [C]ongress he will not honor the request to make Benghazi survivors available for questioning."
Norah O'Donnell highlighted on Wednesday's CBS This Morning that "Republican Congressman Darrell Issa wants to interview survivors" and that "he's giving the State Department until Monday to meet his demand", but didn't mention Kerry's refusal. [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Perhaps in response to the backlash against a planned miniseries on Hillary Clinton, Thursday's NBC Today aired an unusually critical story about the "chaos" at the Clinton Foundation and the possible negative political fallout for the would-be 2016 presidential contender. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
White House correspondent Peter Alexander informed viewers: "As first reported by the New York Times, a 2011 review of the foundation raised concerns about infighting, bad management, and conflicts of interest. Observers say, echoing problems in Bill Clinton's White House and his wife's 2008 campaign."
After a tease of upcoming coverage of the Anthony Weiner sex scandal, on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer tried to make the news of political controversy bipartisan: "Republicans are facing a few issues of their own, highlighted by a war of words between Chris Christie and Rand Paul." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Introducing the report, fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie announced a "heated feud" between the two Republicans, followed by correspondent Peter Alexander proclaiming: "A Republican family feud growing nastier by the sound bite." As the headline on screen declared a "war of words," Alexander asserted: "The fight has exposed deep divisions within the party on national security and federal spending."
Reporting from the White House lawn during NBC's live coverage of the Supreme Court's rulings in favor of gay marriage on Wednesday, correspondent Peter Alexander touted how the decisions were "very personally satisfying for the President, who it was only about a year ago during the course of the campaign...came out and said that he has had this personal evolution on the topic..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Minutes later, Alexander recited a tweet from the President: "He said the following: 'Today's DOMA ruling is a historic step forward for #marriageequality,' and then he wrote, '#loveislove.'" After quoting a similar celebratory tweet from Obama advisor Jim Messina, Alexander observed: "Clearly this is a very content White House on this day."
During a fawning report on Hillary Clinton's "first time kicking off the Clinton Global Initiative" on Friday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander also cheered the "double feature" of Clinton and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaking at the event: "Today it is Bill Clinton who could soon be advising his wife's next presidential bid, giving her possible rival Chris Christie the reins for a major platform to showcase his own leadership skills."
Continuing to hype Christie hobnobbing with Democrats, Alexander declared: "Chris Christie, the Jersey-shore-reopening, carnival-playing presidential pal is the former President's guest of honor, speaking this afternoon, while his Republican rivals address a conference of religious conservatives. Insiders say, for the moment, Christie is focused on 2013, not 2016, eyeing his own re-election race in a heavily blue state."
In a report for Friday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander gushed over Hillary Clinton speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative: "Call it Hillary Clinton 3.0." A sound bite played of Clinton joking: "So after visiting 112 nations over four years, I'm still jet lagged." Alexander added: "But no signs of wear..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Alexander continued the Hillary promotion as if she was already running for president: "[Clinton] is essentially raising the curtain on her next act, empowering women and girls.... Her recent return to the spotlight certainly appears carefully choreographed. The newly renamed Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and a brand new Twitter account, nearly a half million followers waiting to hear what's 'TBD.'"
Leading off a report on Tuesday's NBC Today about President Obama's trip to survey recovery efforts along New Jersey's shoreline after Hurricane Sandy, White House correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed: "[The President's here] really to see the improvements to this area, and also to refocus the conversation away from some recent headlines. Focusing on what he wants to focus on: government at its best, bipartisanship, and efforts to improve the economy." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Meanwhile, on CBS This Morning, correspondent Major Garrett almost identically announced: "President Obama is eager to look at federally-financed repairs on the Jersey shore – to his mind, a welcome contrast to IRS bungling and Justice Department snooping....Today's trip could also inject some life into Mr. Obama's scandal-starved push for Beltway bipartisanship."
As of Friday morning, NBC News broadcasts had completely ignored an important scoop from the network's own national investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff that Attorney General Eric Holder personally approved the Justice Department's aggressive investigation of Fox News reporter James Rosen. Meanwhile, both CBS News and FNC provided on-air coverage of the new development. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In an article for NBCNews.com on Thursday, Isikoff reported that Holder "signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a 'possible co-conspirator' in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News."
While the three network morning shows on Thursday all promoted President Obama's "renewed focus on transparency" in an upcoming national security speech, none of the broadcasts made any mention of the administration's deception in the ongoing scandal surrounding the terrorist attack in Benghazi.
On NBC's Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander declared that Obama would be "highlighting new efforts to bring about transparency and even new restriction in the so-called hidden war" while citing "evidence of that renewed focus on transparency" in the form a Justice Department letter to Congress officially acknowledging the already widely-reported fact that drones were used to kill American citizen and terrorist cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki.
On Sunday's NBC Nightly News, White House correspondent Peter Alexander led off with Obama team spin on the scandals rocking the administration: "...the White House is aggressively responding, calling accusations of mismanagement 'offensive and absurd.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
A sound bite played of Obama advisor Dan Pfeiffer ranting: "There is no question that we want to – that Republicans are trying to make political hay here....What they want to do when they're lacking a positive agenda is try to drag Washington into a swamp of partisan fishing expeditions, trumped-up hearings, and false allegations. We're not gonna let that happen."
During a report on Monday's NBC Today about the Benghazi and IRS scandals wracking the Obama administration, a headline on screen wondered if they were the result of "Obama's Second Term Curse?" White House correspondent Peter Alexander lamented: "Fewer than four months since his ambitious inaugural address, President Obama is facing significant political obstacles.... Some observers are already asking if Mr. Obama is falling victim to the second term curse."
After Alexander detailed second-term problems for past presidents, "From Watergate to Iran-Contra, even Bill Clinton's impeachment," a sound bite followed of NBC's liberal presidential historian Michael Beschloss offering this bit of advice to Obama: "The presidents who have weathered these crises best have been those who do not let themselves get distracted."
Following an one-sided report on Monday's NBC Today about the push for more gun restrictions, which touted Democratic Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy dismissing the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre as a "clown at the circus," co-host Matt Lauer lamented: "There does seem to be a disconnect...90% of the Americans, when asked about expanding background checks say, 'Yes, we're in favor of that.' And yet, if you look at the prospects for doing it in Congress, they don't seem all that positive." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
White House correspondent Peter Alexander responded by informing Lauer: "Yeah, Matt, that's very much the White House's argument, a point that the White House, President Obama will make again this afternoon in Connecticut."
On Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer touted "breaking news" that Ohio Senator Rob Portman, "a leading figure in the Republican Party," was now in favor of gay marriage after learning that his son was gay. Leading off the report that followed, White House correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed that Portman "...is now joining a growing list of Republicans to come out in support of gay marriage..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Turning to coverage of the Conservative Political Action Conference, Alexander asserted: "The Republican Party now faces an identity crisis, with no clear leader and no clear path to widening its appeal." Wrapping up the report, Alexander continued to push the meme of a GOP in disarray: "But if you need any more evidence of the divide that now exists in the Republican Party, consider this. One of the most popular figures in the party, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the guy who praised President Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy last fall, was not invited."