Introducing a story on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer touted the Washington Post publishing the resignation letter of Massachusetts kindergarten teacher Suzi Sluyter, who decided to quit her job after being "frustrated by what she says is too much emphasis on test scores and testing instead of the kids themselves." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed – amid clips of Sluyter reciting her letter on camera – correspondent Ron Mott declared: "A sobering assessment about standardized tests, how children are damaged by what she calls a broken system more focused on scoring them." He soon found who to blame: "When President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law in 2002, supporters applauded the sweeping reform for holding schools and teachers accountable for student performance. But it wasn't long before complaints surfaced."
For three consecutive nights on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams proclaimed the country to now be in the "post-Newtown era," as he and reporters promoted how "the White House prepares its battle plan" to push for more gun control following the school shooting. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Tuesday, Williams kicked off the coverage by describing how "in our post-Newtown era," the Obama administration was "gearing up for a fight on this issue." In the report that followed, correspondent Ron Mott touted "a growing chorus of calls around the country for gun restrictions, in the wake of a spike in gun-related murders in cities like Chicago and Detroit and last month's tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut."
At about 9:15 p.m. during MSNBC's live coverage of the Republican National Convention, NBC correspondent Ron Mott omitted the word "illegal" as he pressed Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on whether her "hardline stance on immigration" had hurt her politically with Hispanic voters.
On Thursday and Friday, NBC launched an all out assault on Mitt Romney, urging him to release more tax returns. Opening Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams scrambled to resurrect the worn-out line of attack: "Talking taxes. Under intense pressure, Mitt Romney talks about what he has paid." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Introducing the lead story moments later, Williams proclaimed: "It is a topic that won't go away. In the hands of the Democrats, it has dogged Mitt Romney from the start and may follow him all the way to the finish of this campaign." He described Romney's "private life of great wealth" and him being "unwilling to go public with his tax returns beyond the past two years."
In a parting shot at Mitt Romney, NBC's Ron Mott pointed to liberal rag Vanity Fair's hit piece on the candidate's wealth at they very end of Mott's report on the presidential campaign. The very mention of the article was out of place in a report mostly about campaign messaging.
After mentioning Romney's new web video "The Best of America," Mott added that "The ad was released on the heels of a new Vanity Fair article scrutinizing his [Romney's] wealth estimated as high as a quarter-billion dollars and how much of that fortune may sit in tax shelters overseas." [Video below the break.]
On Sunday's Today show, as he read a brief item on the passing of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, NBC's Ron Mott recounted criticism painting the conservative Israeli leader as "increasing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians" by expanding Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Mott:
Reporting on Rick Santorum leaving the Republican presidential race on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Ron Mott proclaimed: "It was a campaign filled with highly-publicized gaffes....From calling President Obama out on education, to President Kennedy's famed speech on the separation of church and state....Just two of a number of comments he eventually walked back or was pushed to explain."
Mott also depicted Santorum as only appealing to a narrow group of voters: "Santorum's support was mostly rooted in a core of Republican strongholds, where his unapologetic push for social conservative values, something the GOP establishment largely sought to avoid, was enthusiastically embraced by evangelicals."
On Sunday, NBC's David Gregory spent much of Meet the Press blasting Rick Santorum for criticizing President Obama's "phony theology" of liberalism. Earlier that morning, he appeared on the Today show to wonder if the GOP was "comfortable" with that line of criticism and warned: "Does it want to reignite culture wars in America over these kinds of issues?"
On Monday's Today, fill-in co-host Savannah Guthrie followed Gregory's lead as she lead the top of the show with this proclamation: "Culture wars. Rick Santorum is trying to explain his comment that appeared to question President Obama's faith." NBC did not dare accuse the Obama administration of trying to "reignite" a "culture war" over the ObamaCare contraception mandate controversy.
As the broadcast network evening newscasts filed reports this week on the teacher cheating scandal in Atlanta, Georgia, ABC’s World News on its Wednesday show went furthest in seeming to sympathize with the teachers who cheated as correspondent Steve Osunami highlighted complaints about No Child Left Behind’s emphasis on standardized tests to judge teacher performance.
After recounting details of the cheating scandal, in which as many as 178 teachers and principals in Atlanta erased and changed some of the answers on student tests to improve test score statistics for their schools, Osunsami asserted that "everyone here is pointing the finger at No Child Left Behind," and undermined the complaints of parents angry about the scandal:
In a Tuesday NBC Nightly News story, reporter Ron Mott actually acknowledged that the decision to use “environmentally friendly” ice resurfacing machines “that kept breaking down” had led to lengthy delays for speed skating competitions at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. In the piece on problems at the games, Mott reported:
In the past two days, men's speed skating was slowed to a standstill because of poor ice conditions, further complicated by the environmentally friendly machines, used in place of the tried and true Zamboni, that kept breaking down. A Zamboni is being brought in from Calgary.
On USAToday.com, Tom Weir explained the malfunctions, “that delayed the women's 3,000 meters Sunday and which threatened to postpone the men's 500 Monday were unprecedented at Olympic speedskating,” and were caused by Canada putting “green” interests ahead of reliability:
The problems suffered by Olympia brand resurfacers brought into question the decision of the Vancouver Olympics to be as green as possible, and use electric-powered machines to groom the ice. To prevent further problems, a traditional, propane-powered Zamboni has been trucked in from Calgary.
Wednesday's NBC Nightly News highlighted the downbeat “State of Black America 2009” report, but failed to identify the group behind it, the National Urban League, as liberal nor note the left-wing policy prescriptions recommended in the report. Though NBC anchor Brian Williams acknowledged Barack Obama's election “was a reminder of the great strides this nation has made in race relations,” he warned that “today there was a reminder of how much work remains to be done to heal what has long been this nation's greatest wound.”
Reporter Ron Mott explained: “Two months on the job, President Obama today got a sobering message about the state of black America, detailed in the National Urban League's annual assessment of racial progress.” National Urban League President Marc Morial, the former Democratic Mayor of New Orleans, then charged: “The country's in a ditch, and black Americans have lost ground over the last eight years. Those are the facts, and those facts are not lies.”
On Tuesday’s NBC Nightly News, correspondent Ron Mott filed a report featuring incoming Republican Congressman Joseph Cao, the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress, and the man who defeated corrupt former Democratic Congressman William Jefferson in heavily Democratic New Orleans. Brian Williams introduced Mott’s piece: "There was new ground broken on Capitol Hill today, where the first Vietnamese-American Congressman in the history of this republic was sworn in. Joseph Cao of Louisiana is also the first Republican in more than a century to win the seat representing New Orleans."
Mott recounted Cao’s escape from Vietnam and his victory against Jefferson, who was involved in a bribery scandal: "The 41-year-old Republican Congressman, Joseph Cao, is now a standout on Capitol Hill, traveling a very long way to get there. As a boy, he was among tens of thousands airlifted out of Vietnam after the fall of Saigon, without his parents, who feared he was killed at the airport. ... He later studied for the priesthood, eventually became a lawyer, and then last year, took on a political institution in New Orleans, Democrat William Jefferson, embroiled in a bribery scandal."
Well the media has officially gotten cocky when they start predicting that the reddest of red states could be in play for Barack Obama, and that's precisely what NBC's Ron Mott did on Tuesday's "Today" show, when he cheered that Texas, "May be surprisingly competitive." [audio excerpt available here]
In a report on early voting, Mott noted the long lines for those willing to participate in early voting and celebrated:
So far Democratic voters appear to be the ones most willing to wait, and that could spell good news for Senator Barack Obama who's encouraged supporters, including his legion of newly registered young voters, to take advantage of early voting in 32 states and they've answered the call.
Then a little later, before throwing it back to "Today" anchor Meredith Vieira, Mott concluded the story with this overly confident observation:
Polls here in Texas give Senator McCain a relatively comfortable advantage but Democrats are nonetheless optimistic. They point to record turnout that we've seen so far, and a record number of registered voters, 13.5 million, as two signs perhaps that Texas may be surprisingly competitive this time next week. Meredith?
The following is the full story as it was aired on the October 28, "Today" show: