For someone who was ultimately exposed as a reckless liar, Brian Williams had no problems smearing conservatives as ignorant and gullible. Nine years ago this week, the now-disgraced NBC Nightly News anchor appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman to bash Tea Party conservatives.
Teed up by Letterman as to why the Tea Party wants their “country back,” a smug Williams mocked, “It makes people feel better to say ‘Take our country back.’ If you ask them, they would say from, ‘from the Trilateral Commission, from the big bankers, from the Council on Foreign Relations.”
You see a lot of signs, ‘Federal Government Out of My Social Security,’ ‘Federal Government Out of My Medicare and Medicaid,’ but for the federal government, of course, those programs would not exist. A lot of it is just raw anger being translated onto signs and in slogans because people are on the downside of a bad economy.
Considering that Williams is the man who falsely claimed he was shot down over Iraq in 2003 and told tales about seeing dead bodies during Hurricane Katrina, maybe he shouldn’t be so cocky about calling others dumb. After all, it’s pretty stupid to brag about such false assertions.
For more examples from our flashback series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.
A partial transcript is below:
Late Night With David Letterman
DAVID LETTERMAN: Now when the Tea Party formed, or when I think it formed, or when I read about the formation of it, I thought this is great. This is great. People have gotten together and said “holy god, we've lost all our money, our pension funds are gone. Nobody seems to know where the money goes. The government raises all this money to bail out huge corporations, our money is still gone. Our retirement funds, everything is gone. We don't like this. We think we can do a better job. We're going to form another political party.” That's great. That's all part of the luxury of being born in this country. You can do that. You should do that. We thrive on that sort of thing.
Now I hear them saying things like “we want our country back.” And I'm having trouble deciding who took it, where did it go. You know, when they say “we want our country back,” who, what, what are they talking about?
WILLIAMS: ...You've latched on Dave, in what is Topic 5 for those playing our home game, you’ve latched on to sloganeering, which is as fine as an American tradition as any Tom Jefferson was involved in. And it makes people feel better to say “take our country back.” If you ask them, they would say from, “from the Trilateral Commission, from the big bankers, from the Council on Foreign Relations.”
LETTERMAN: A friend of mine, I said there's going to be a Tea Party convention up the road. I said go there and let me hear what they’re saying. Do they have a platform? Do they have solutions? And she said “well, no, not so much. It was more about we want our country back and are you with us and this and that and attracting support.” Which I understand is part of a growing movement. But to get any kind of traction, don't you want to hear, oh here's what we're going to do different. I mean let's face it, you could get elected, Harry Truman could get elected, and because of the politics of the day and the bureaucracy, it's going to be a pretty tough slog for anybody.
WILLIAMS: ...People's anger goes to their money. They do kind of generically want control back. They see a government so big and yet a government that says, “wait a minute, stop an oil leak a mile down under the water. Oh, we have nothing for that, that's BP's technology. We're going to put an admiral here in charge and watch BP for you, but I swear we’ve got this covered.”
LETTERMAN: And again the popular inconsistency that is cited is “we don't want the nationalized health care. But by god we still want our Medicare and our Medicaid.” How do they reconcile that?
WILLIAMS: Well, you see a lot of signs, “Federal Government Out of My Social Security,” “Federal Government Out of My Medicare and Medicaid,” but for the federal government, of course, those programs would not exist. A lot of it is just raw anger being translated onto signs and in slogans because people are on the downside of a bad economy.