Rev. Terry Jones may have announced on Saturday's Today that he wouldn't be burning any Korans, but on Sunday Today, NBC Meet the Press host David Gregory was suggesting Jones wasn't worthy of anyone's airtime: "I don't see why this pastor Jones has any sort of forum or any platform that's worthy of discussion."
Did Gregory lose that debate inside NBC?
When asked by anchor Jenna Wolfe about the Koran-burning controversy, Gregory insisted that President Obama's opposition will have a "big impact," and yet, when asked if this incident would hurt America abroad, he didn't think so (after all, Obama has been so effective at that outreach to the Muslim world):
WOLFE: So let's get right to it. So the president said in that speech in DC yesterday, he said, quote, "We are not and never will be at war with Islam." Again, a message he's been trying to convey all week. What kind of impact is that going to have?
GREGORY: Well, I think it has a big impact. I think the president at the end of the week was able successfully to wade into this controversy about this Florida pastor, get him to stand down, the Quran will not be burned, and what would have been, you know, a small group of hate-mongers, but nevertheless the fear was it could have much wider international implications. I think it is striking nine years later that our leaders are confronted with anti-Muslim sentiment in the country as a primary legacy of 9/11. Yes, the war on terror is still being fought in a robust way around the world, yet even the president on Friday made the point of saying it cannot dominate America's foreign policy in the way that it has over the past decade.
WOLFE: David, Reverend Terry Jones said yesterday on the show here, he will not burn Qurans not this weekend, not any time in the future, but has the damage already been done, both here and potentially abroad as well?
GREGORY: I don't know that it has. I mean, I think it's been, you know, a big story here and the issue of anti-Muslim sentiment is one that as Americans we have to confront, that our leadership has to confront, and we are doing that in a very, you know, in a varied set of ways, both here and what's happening overseas. I think the real concern was the image that could have come from those threats of the actual burning of the holy Quran. That's something that the administration felt would have actually had a direct impact on our troops fighting in places like Afghanistan.
WOLFE: Well, let's talk about what the White House's role is here. Terry Jones came here to potentially meet with the imam; as far as we know, there has no meeting that's been set as of yet. Is it the White House's responsibility to facilitate a meeting between the two at any point?
GREGORY: I can't see any reason why there should be a meeting between the two. I think one doesn't have anything to do with the other. I mean, it can be sort of conflated neatly. I don't see why this pastor Jones has any sort of forum or any platform that's worthy of discussion. You know, he seems rather ignorant about even what his complaints about Islam are. So I don't think that's where the discourse ought to be. If there's going to be discourse, it would seem to me it would make sense that it happens in New York, as a community that's dealing with what should go where and how that should move forward. I don't think the pastor has any role in that, and I certainly don't think the White House wants to broker anything.
Despite this toeing of the liberal line, on the last question from Wolfe, Gregory was not sanguine about Obama's chances of avoiding a big Republican electoral tide.