Serving as President Obama's stenographer on Monday's NBC Nightly News, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd eagerly touted the President hammering Republicans on the debt ceiling during a midday press conference: "And with Washington once again careening toward a fiscal crisis...the President made it clear he intends to stand firm....[He] acknowledged Republicans could end up shutting down the government if he doesn't yield on spending cuts. But he warned against it." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
During the final press conference of Obama's first term, Todd urged the President to follow the recommendations of fellow Democrats and unilaterally raise the nation's debt limit without congressional approval: "Harry Reid sent you a letter, begging you, essentially, to take – consider some sort of executive action on this debt ceiling issue....Jim Clyburn asked you to use the 14th Amendment....He brought up the Emancipation Proclamation...he compared the debt ceiling to that. So are you considering a plan 'B'? And if not, why not?"
On Tuesday's Today, Todd touted his question to the President and sympathetically declared: "The President, though, was pessimistic when it comes to the idea of whether there's going to be a government shutdown. He acknowledged that House Republicans may have the votes to do that."
News briefs later on the morning show kept up the pressure on the GOP to agree to a debt ceiling raise. At the top of the 8 a.m. et hour, CNBC reporter Mary Thompson promoted Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke following White House talking points on the issue: "He thinks that Congress should raise it, noting it doesn't mean the government's gonna spend any more money, merely that it will pay the bills it's already has incurred."
At the top of the 9 a.m. et hour, news reader Natalie Morales reported: "New financial troubles for the nation, even after averting the fiscal cliff, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner tells Congress that the government will exhaust its borrowing limit by the middle of next month, that is earlier than expected. On Monday, President Obama warned that if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling, the nation will face serious repercussions."
None of the NBC coverage of the press conference laid blame for the stalemate on President Obama.
Here is a full transcript of Todd's January 14 Nightly News report:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: President Obama said today he's reviewing a series of proposals from Vice President Biden about how to curb gun violence in this country. The President was asked about that fight today at his final news conference of his first term. He was also pressed about this looming fight over the debt ceiling. Our chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd was part of the questioning. He joins us from there tonight. Chuck, good evening.
CHUCK TODD: Good evening, Brian. Well, as you mentioned, Vice President Biden formally gave the President the gun violence task force recommendation that he was charged with getting. And while the President said he's formally going to unveil what his proposals are going to be, he did say today that if Congress doesn't act, at this news conference, he's willing to do it himself. During the hour-long press conference, President Obama said he wants stronger background checks and limits on assault weapons and ammunition. But acknowledged the difficult politics.
BARACK OBAMA: Those are things I continue to believe make sense. Will all of them get through this Congress? I don't know.
TODD: And he said administrative action, such as backtracking guns used by criminals, are things he may be able to do right away.
OBAMA: I'm confident that there are some steps that we can take that don't require legislation.
TODD: But gun control was not the President's main focus today. He reiterated that he won't negotiate with congressional Republicans over whether to raise the country's virtual credit card limit to pay its bills.
OBAMA: We are not a deadbeat nation. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize more spending. It simply allows the country to pay for spending that Congress has already committed to.
TODD: And with Washington once again careening toward a fiscal crisis, this one involving debt and spending, the President made it clear he intends to stand firm.
OBAMA: If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America's bills on time, Social Security checks and veterans' benefits will be delayed.
TODD: The President acknowledged Republicans could end up shutting down the government if he doesn't yield on spending cuts. But he warned against it.
OBAMA: I think it would be profoundly damaging to our economy. I think it would actually add to our deficit, because it will impede growth.
TODD: Another more immediate political fight for the President, confirming his Pentagon nominee, Chuck Hagel, a Republican, who got a boost on Meet the Press Sunday from former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell, who used the occasion to take a larger, deeper shot at the GOP.
COLIN POWELL: There's also a dark – a dark vein of intolerance of some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? What I mean by that is, they still sort of look down on minorities. How can I evidence that? When I see a former governor say that the President is "shuckin' and jivin'." That's a racial era slave term.
TODD: Now, Brian, the issue of the lack of diversity in the President's second-term appointment so far actually came up at the press conference today, and the President simply asked for more time, defended his record of diversity in the first term, and said wait until he's finished with all of his appointments.
WILLIAMS: Chuck Todd on the north lawn of the White House for us tonight. Chuck, thanks.