Brian Williams Spins for Obama on ‘Late Night,’ Then Declares: ‘I Don’t Work’ for White House
A defensive Brian Williams appeared on Wednesday’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to explain away Barack Obama’s handling of the situation in Libya. He also hit the show’s for having a “political ‘tude” against the President, complaining, “I’ve never heard you go into this area before.”
After the comedian knocked Obama for “playing soccer in Rio,” Williams labeled that “unfair.” He added, “The President has scrambled phones. He’s got video conferencing.”
Following jokes from Fallon about the President’s NCAA picks, the NBC Nightly News anchor sarcastically replied, “I think we’ve seen a little political ‘tude coming out tonight. This is interesting.”
The journalist did allow that the White House has a perception problem, but continued to defend the President being out of the country: “Even though he’s with his daughters and they get very little time off. He’s down in South America, three country tour, doing all of the official business.”
Williams oddly closed his appearance with an assertion of journalistic independence: “I don’t work for [The White House]. I cover them all equally, Democrats, Republicans.”
A transcript of the March 23 segment, which aired at 12:50am EDT, follows:
JIMMY FALLON: And it feels like to me, that President Obama is playing soccer in Rio with kids and Hillary Clinton seems to be weirdly stepping up, almost like she’s being very presidential, I feel like. Isn’t it weird?
BRIAN WILLIAMS: It might be a bit unfair. He- you’ve got to remember, Jimmy-
WILLIAMS: The machinery of the presidency, a lot like when you travel, the machinery of the presidency comes with the President. When you travel, you get, you know, the Late Night computer and your paging devices, so that decisions back in New York about guests, musical order can be made by you. The President has scrambled phones. He’s got video conferencing. He’s got the three big Irishmen in his life, [Tom] Donilon, [John] Brennan and [William] Daley, who are part of his inner circle. He’s got all of his people. They are all reachable. While he may come back early from this trip to South America, I think the command and control- American people like to see the President in the White House.
FALLON: But, why is he there again?
WILLIAMS: Well, this was a trip that, to have cancelled this-
FALLON: It costs so much money? [Laughs]
WILLIAMS: Yeah, right.
FALLON: He can’t get a refund? Come on. what is going down? He’s making NCAA- doing his brackets on ESPN. I’m like, “Who is advising this?”
WILLIAMS: Wow. I think- I think we’ve seen a little political ‘tude coming out tonight. This is interesting.
FALLON: Come on. A little.
WILLIAMS: I think this is interesting. I’ve never heard you go into this area before.
FALLON : I don’t usually do it, but I feel like- I get upset. I go, what- I mean, I have better people advising me than the President does.
WILLIAMS: Actually, I’ve met your staff.
FALLON: Yeah, and- Yeah, you’re right.
WILLIAMS: Just one thing to remember. Every cruise missile, about like $1 million, 162 of those, think of what goes into launching each one.
FALLON:: Sure, yeah, yeah.
WILLIAMS: Target selection, all of that. It’s-
FALLON: I mean, it’s a tough job. It’s a crazy job.
WILLIAMS: You feel like you have to hang on to something.
FALLON: I’m always- I’m very patriotic. I’m always rooting for the President. I just feel like- I feel like I want to hear from him.
WILLIAMS: Well this is a tough perception. The White House has to deal with this. Because, seriously, if you’re saying it and you do hear this across America, it means it’s real. And it means they’ve got to deal with the perception. Even though he’s with his daughters and they get very little time off. He’s down in South America, three country tour, doing all of the official business. I don’t work for them. I cover them all equally, Democrats, Republicans. They’ve got an appearance issue, if you’re saying they do. You have that kind of sway across this country.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.