Like the old adage which says a stuck clock is accurate twice a day, on Monday another public figure broke with President Bush on Iraq and, for at least the fourth time in the past two years, the NBC Nightly News saw a “turning point” or a “tipping point” on the war. If NBC says it enough, eventually they may, indeed, be correct and consider themselves prescient.
“Tonight,” Brian Williams teased, “is Iraq policy at a tipping point?” With "Tipping Point?" on screen, he proceeded to lead his July 9 broadcast with how “there are signs and signals and indications that a turning point may be nearing on U.S. involvement in the Iraq war” because of defections by Republican Senators. Reporter David Gregory cited White House “high-level strategy sessions and meetings with Republican lawmakers whose criticism of the President's war policy has accelerated a push to withdraw troops.” Gregory then asked: “Is this the tipping point on Iraq? Tonight, another Republican Senator, Olympia Snowe of Maine, called on the President to set a timetable for troop withdrawal, saying the surge is not working.”
Two weeks ago, when Senator Richard Lugar “broke with the President on the Iraq war,” Williams proposed: “Tonight many are wondering if we're witnessing the beginning of some kind of turning point
?” Williams earlier teased the newscast with the same formulation: “Is this a turning point
in the war?” (June 26 NewsBusters item
) NBC, however, has a poor record of picking Iraq war “turning” or “tipping points.” In 2005 the network hailed Cindy Sheehan's protest near Bush's ranch as a “turning point
” and last October Williams heralded comments from Senator John Warner on Iraq as he asked: “Is this a new turning point
On the August 25, 2005 NBC Nightly News, reporter Carl Quintanilla asserted:
"Sheehan, say some historians, may be evolving as an icon in the war's turning point, if this is one. For three weeks, she's dominated headlines, mobilized protesters-"
Man: "She's taking a stand."
Quintanilla: "-both with and without relatives in Iraq."
Cindy Sheehan: "They don't have what I like to call skin in the game, but we are all affected."
Quintanilla: "Making it safe, her supporters say, to voice doubts about the war, just as Walter Cronkite did on the Evening News in 1968."
For the entire story check the 2005 NewsBusters posting
, or MRC CyberAlert
posting with different screen shots, both of which noted how on MSNBC's Countdown that night, fill-in host Amy Robach framed Quintanilla's story around how "there are those who wonder if attitudes toward the war could be reaching a tipping point
and whether the Gold Star mom could be the driving force."
A little over a year later
, on the October 6, 2006 NBC Nightly News, Williams highlighted Republican Senator John Warner's warning that Iraq is drifting "side-wise," a comment trumpeted by Williams in his tease:
"When a key Republican Senator comes home from Iraq and says the U.S. has to re-think its strategy, is this a new turning point?"
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this partial transcript from the start of the July 9 NBC Nightly News:
Brian Williams teased:
“Tonight, is Iraq policy at a tipping point? With pressure building on the Bush administration to change course, the White House says no.”
“Good evening on this first Monday after the July 4th break. There are signs and signals and indications that a turning point may be nearing on U.S. involvement in the Iraq war. As you'll hear in a moment, the Bush White House is denying anything's been accelerated, but the problem is the very people they used to be able to count on, the Republicans in the Senate who have been steadfast dependable supporters of the war effort. One by one, they have been beginning to defect from the President with the lowest ever recorded approval rating. And where does all of this leave the American men and women who have volunteered to serve their nation? We begin our coverage on this Monday night with our chief White House correspondent David Gregory. David, good evening.”
David Gregory began:
“Brian, inside the White House tonight, a greater sense of urgency about what comes next in Iraq. High-level strategy sessions and meetings with Republican lawmakers whose criticism of the President's war policy has accelerated a push to withdraw troops. Is this the tipping point on Iraq? Tonight, another Republican Senator, Olympia Snowe of Maine, called on the President to set a timetable for troop withdrawal, saying the surge is not working... “