MRC Alert: NBC’s Guthrie Lobs Softball to Axelrod On ‘Whether Racism Animated’ Obama Critics


1

NBC’s Guthrie Lobs Softball to Axelrod On ‘Whether Racism Animated’ Obama Critics

By Kyle Drennen

In an interview with former Obama White House aide David Axelrod on Monday’s NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie tossed a softball on “whether racism animated some of the President’s critics.” She read an inflammatory quote from Axelrod’s new book: “Some folks simply refused to accept the legitimacy of the first black president and are seriously discomforted by the growing diversity of our country.” Without challenging the assertion, Guthrie wondered: “Is that you view and does the President share that view in your mind?”

Axelrod – whom Guthrie failed to identify as an NBC News political analyst – stood by his remarks: “Well, it’s clearly my view or I wouldn’t have written it, and I’m sure he feels that way to. Is that the main reason for the opposition to him? No. But has any other president experienced someone shouting ‘You lie!’ in the U.S. Congress or persistent questions about his citizenship? No. And I think that reflects some attitudes that are deeply ingrained in some people in this country.”

View video on MRCTV

Guthrie followed up by questioning Axelrod’s account of Mitt Romney suggesting Obama only won reelection in 2012 due to the black vote:

Quickly let’s clear something up. There was a bit of a controversy last week. You write in the book that when president – or excuse me, when candidate Romney called President Obama to concede on election night in 2012, that the President hung up and reported to you, “Oh, he said, yeah, we turned out the vote in Milwaukee….In other words, black people, that’s what he thinks this is all about.” Now Romney’s body man has said, “Wait, I was sitting right next to Romney, he never said any such thing.”

Axelrod doubled down: “Well, there were five people standing around the President when he got off the phone, all of them have the same recollection. Several of them have gone public since this started. I don’t think the President made that up.”

Guthrie began the exchange with a tougher question on foreign policy: “…the President has ruled out ground troops to fight ISIS. He’s been fond in the past years of saying the tide of war is receding. Reality seems to be telling a different story. Do you think he underestimated the threat of ISIS?”

Axelrod dismissed the observation:

Look, Savannah, when I look back to when I arrived at the White House, and you were there, we had 180,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan and mostly in Iraq. The guy who was the architect as the worst terrorist attack in history was at large and all of his lieutenants. We had a credible threat on Washington on Inauguration Day. I wrote about that in my book. So are we better off today than we were then? I think we are.

In her second foreign policy question, Guthrie lobbed another slow pitch to Axelrod: “Speaker Boehner invited Netanyahu to address the Congress to argue for more sanctions [against Iran], something that the President doesn’t agree with. Does that feel like a diss to you?”

Axelrod used the opportunity to bash Netanyahu’s supporters: “I think this has more to do, however, with Israeli politics and the fact that Netanyahu has a very close election two weeks after his visit to Congress and this was cooked up by people who wanted to promote his candidacy. Unfortunately it’s at the expense, perhaps, of very delicate peace talks and I regret that.”

Guthrie failed to point out that a former top Obama campaign aide has been working for Netanyahu’s political opponents ahead of the upcoming Israeli election.

Here is a full transcript of the February 9 interview:

7:08 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: David Axelrod served as a senior adviser to President Obama and he is the author of a new book called Believer: My Forty Years In Politics. David, good morning, good to see you.

DAVID AXELROD: Good to be with you.

GUTHRIE: We’ll talk about the book in a moment. But let me ask you about this, the President has ruled out ground troops to fight ISIS. He’s been fond in the past years of saying the tide of war is receding. Reality seems to be telling a different story. Do you think he underestimated the threat of ISIS?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Political Battle Against ISIS; Former WH Senior Advisor On President’s Next Move]

DAVID AXELROD: Look, Savannah, when I look back to when I arrived at the White House, and you were there, we had 180,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan and mostly in Iraq. The guy who was the architect as the worst terrorist attack in history was at large and all of his lieutenants. We had a credible threat on Washington on Inauguration Day. I wrote about that in my book. So are we better off today than we were then? I think we are. But this is going to be an ongoing problem that this president’s going to have to have to struggle with and I suspect future presidents are going to have to struggle with.

GUTHRIE: Let’s talk about a different foreign policy issue. You’ve no doubt heard about this dust-up between the Israeli prime minister and President Obama, where Speaker Boehner invited Netanyahu to address the Congress to argue for more sanctions, something that the President doesn’t agree with. Does that feel like a diss to you? And you probably have some insight into this relationship between these two leaders, President Obama and Netanyahu.

AXELROD: Well, clearly they haven’t gotten along, they’ve disagreed on a number of things. I think this has more to do, however, with Israeli politics and the fact that Netanyahu has a very close election two weeks after his visit to Congress and this was cooked up by people who wanted to promote his candidacy. Unfortunately it’s at the expense, perhaps, of very delicate peace talks and I regret that.

GUTHRIE: Let’s talk politics, you are an expert on that after your forty years, as the book mentions. Do you think a Bush versus Clinton race in 2016 is good for the country? And I know you’re probably gonna vote for the Democrat, but I mean, in terms of having the same two families.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Race for The White House; Former WH Senior Advisor On 2016 Candidates]

AXELROD: Look, I know and like both of them actually. I think, you know, it is easy to say that, but let’s see what the quality of the race is. Bush is already out there speaking about income inequality, which I think is a great sign, and the problems of the middle class. Hillary, I think, will come out with some strong ideas on the same subject and maybe different ideas. And we can have a big national debate. I think the Bush-Clinton thing will fade away when the personalities come forward.

GUTHRIE: You write in your book that the question of whether racism animated some of the President’s critics was a question you deflected through your time in government. But you take it on-

AXELROD: Yes, probably in questions from you.

GUTHRIE: You take it on in the book and you say directly, “Some folks simply refused to accept the legitimacy of the first black president and are seriously discomforted by the growing diversity of our country.” Is that you view and does the President share that view in your mind?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: President’s True “Believer”; Former WH Senior Advisor On His Time With Obama]

AXELROD: Well, it’s clearly my view or I wouldn’t have written it, and I’m sure he feels that way to. Is that the main reason for the opposition to him? No. But has any other president experienced someone shouting “You lie!” in the U.S. Congress or persistent questions about his citizenship? No. And I think that reflects some attitudes that are deeply ingrained in some people in this country.

GUTHRIE: Quickly let’s clear something up. There was a bit of a controversy last week. You write in the book that when president – or excuse me, when candidate Romney called President Obama to concede on election night in 2012, that the President hung up and reported to you, “Oh, he said, yeah, we turned out the vote in Milwaukee and he thinks it’s all about-”

AXELROD: And Cleveland.

GUTHRIE: And Cleveland. And he says, “In other words, black people, that’s what he thinks this is all about.” Now Romney’s body man has said, “Wait, I was sitting right next to Romney, he never said any such thing.”

AXELROD: Well, there were five people standing around the President when he got off the phone, all of them have the same recollection. Several of them have gone public since this started. I don’t think the President made that up. I don’t think Romney was trying to be ungracious either. But you know, we had just come through a long battle, they saw this through different lenses, and it’s natural to have these kinds of reactions I think.

GUTHRIE: Well, David Axelrod, the book is called Believer. You even talk about the time when the President hurled an expletive at you. I guess you haven’t live until that happens.

AXELROD: He didn’t remember that, but I did.

GUTHRIE: Okay. Thank you so much, good to have you here.

2

Andrea Mitchell Applauds Obama Insulting Netanyahu: ‘Take That, Bibi’

By Kyle Drennen

Minutes after President Obama took a jab at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a Monday press conference, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell cheered the put-down: “…he was asked about this very controversial visit by Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks before an Israeli election….And the President very pointedly said, ‘We have this protocol. We don’t invite leaders. If Angela Merkel had an election in two weeks she wouldn’t be here right now and my bet is that she wouldn’t have asked to come.’ Take that, Bibi.”

Mitchell touted liberals escalating the supposed controversy: “A gathering of Democrats, House and Senate, are now saying they’re going to boycott this speech. They see it as a political invitation by John Boehner….But no sign yet that Netanyahu is backing off of it.”

View video on MRCTV

Mark Landler of The New York Times agreed with Mitchell’s assessment: “Yes, he [Obama] took a definite swipe at Bibi there and suggested sort the diplomatic equivalent of bad manners. And you know, he also pointed out, just for the record, they have a deep disagreement on the Iranian nuclear talks. So that was a tough tone all around on the Israeli prime minister.”

On her January 29 program, Mitchell hyped the administration whining over Netanyahu: “The White House is furious, furious at Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and also a little bit angry at Speaker Boehner for inviting Netanyahu to speak before Congress, to a joint meeting of Congress without even consulting the administration – protocol would dictate that.”

Here is a transcript of the February 9 exchange:

12:55 PM ET

(…)

ANDREA MITCHELL: And the other point here was that he was asked about this very controversial visit by Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks before an Israeli election. A gathering of Democrats, House and Senate, are now saying they’re going to boycott this speech. They see it as a political invitation by John Boehner. The Israelis are now saying, “Well, Boehner told us the Democrats were behind it, we didn’t realize it was going to be this toxic.” But no sign yet that Netanyahu is backing off of it. And the President very pointedly said, “We have this protocol. We don’t invite leaders. If Angela Merkel had an election in two weeks she wouldn’t be here right now and my bet is that she wouldn’t have asked to come.” Take that, Bibi.

MARK LANDLER: Yes, he took a definite swipe at Bibi there and suggested sort the diplomatic equivalent of bad manners. And you know, he also pointed out, just for the record, they have a deep disagreement on the Iranian nuclear talks. So that was a tough tone all around on the Israeli prime minister.

MITCHELL: And the President said no point extending if we are – unless we’re close to a deal. Thank you so much, Mark Landler.

(…)

3

Poll: 40% of Americans Think Brian Williams Should Resign from NBC

By Jeffrey Meyer

In the wake of the ongoing saga surrounding NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams’ repeated lies about his reporting in Iraq in 2003, polling by Rasmussen Reports found that Williams hurts NBC’s credibility and thus should resign from NBC News.

Based on their results, 40% of American adults, think Williams should resign from his role as Nightly News anchor following his admission that he lied about being aboard a helicopter during the Iraq invasion that was forced down by enemy fire. The same poll found that 35% of Americans think Williams should remain with NBC whereas 25% are unsure about what his future with the network should be.

Furthermore, 40% of Americans also say that “they are less likely to believe the reporting on NBC News because Williams didn’t tell the truth” regarding his visit to Iraq.

While the NBC anchor still remains a popular figure, with 43% of Americans having a favorable opinion of him, the recent questions surrounding his professional integrity have significantly damaged the credibility NBC News and will likely persist unless he resigns as managing editor and anchor of NBC Nightly News.

4

After Nearly 10 Hours, NBC’s ‘Today’ Finally Notices Williams’ ‘Stories’

By Scott Whitlock

After offering nothing but silence on Brian Williams, NBC’s Today on Sunday finally covered the evolving scandal related to the anchor’s lies of being struck by an RPG in Iraq. The morning show only allowed a scant 20 seconds, however. From Thursday to Monday morning, Today’s reporters managed 20 seconds out of 14 and a half hours of possible air time.

In comparison, less than 48 hours after a scandal involving Chris Christie and a traffic jam broke, NBC produced 34 minutes of coverage. On Sunday, Today news reader Sheinelle Jones carefully explained, “A word this morning about our colleague Brian Williams, who has been under scrutiny over his recollection of certain stories he’s covered.” Jones never used the words “lie” or “false.”

View video on MRCTV

On Saturday’s Nightly News, Lester Holt treaded lightly on the accusations, saying that Williams “has been under scrutiny this past week over his recollection of certain stories he’s covered.”

Despite a four hour run time, Today‘s anchors on Monday couldn’t even manage the 20 seconds. On Good Morning America, Amy Robach offered 21 seconds and noted that Williams has cancelled a scheduled appearance on David Letterman. Unlike NBC, she offered some bluntness: “…Several veterans called him out for falsely claiming that his helicopter came under fire during the Iraq War. NBC is conducting an internal investigation.”

CBS This Morning on Monday devoted 25 seconds. Jeff Glor noted, “Williams admitted he misled the public when he claimed on several occasions he was in a helicopter struck by a grenade during the war in Iraq in 2003.”

Transcripts of Sunday’s Today segment, Monday’s GMA and CBS This Morning can be found below:

Today
2/8/15
8:10

SHEINELLE JONES: A word this morning about our colleague Brian Williams, who has been under scrutiny over his recollection of certain stories he’s covered. On Saturday, Brian issued a statement that says in part: “It has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news due to my actions.” He goes on to say, “I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days.”

GMA
2/9/15
7:13

AMY ROBACH: Well, NBC’s Brian Williams cancelled his scheduled appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman this week. Today marks the first day that Williams will not be anchoring his broadcast after taking himself off the air for several days. This after several veterans called him out for falsely claiming that his helicopter came under fire during the Iraq War. NBC is conducting an internal investigation.

CBS This Morning
2/9/15
7:32

JEFF GLOR: The New York Times says Brian Williams is on leave this morning from NBC Nightly News. Last week, Williams admitted he misled the public when he claimed on several occasions he was in a helicopter struck by a grenade during the war in Iraq in 2003. In a statement on Saturday, Williams said, quote, “It’s become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much of a part of the news due to my actions. I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days.” Williams was scheduled to be on the Late Show With David Letterman on Thursday, but has cancelled that appearance.

5

Rosie O’Donnell: Brian Williams’s ‘Lies’ Show Journalists Don’t Tell the ‘Truth’

By Scott Whitlock

According to View co-host Rosie O’Donnell, the ongoing Brian Williams scandal is an example of why Americans should know that “what you hear on the news is not always the truth.” While conservatives have been making that point for decades, the liberal O’Donnell seems to now agree.

While discussing Williams’s false claim to have been fired on by an RPG, the host attacked, “I think his credibility is being called into question, not only this instance, but over a series of exaggerations and/or lies or whatever you want to call it.” On Thursday, O’Donnell denounced Williams’s “blatant” “Lance Armstrong”-esque “lie.”

View video on MRCTV

Of course, O’Donnell seemed to think that untrustworthy anchors are a new thing. She cited the very liberal Walter Cronkite as the gold standard of honesty:

ROSIE O’DONNELL: Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, he took off his glasses. He said, “There’s no way to win this war. It’s an unjust war. And what happened? People took to the streets and the Vietnam War ended. So, you have to really trust the newscasters to bring you the news.

The host came at the issue of media bias from the left, blaming the “corporations.” O’Donnell railed, “…The fourth estate is supposed to keep democracy in balance. And what happens? If the corporations, only five corporations, own all of the media, you’re only getting a view that enhances their financial bottom line.”

O’Donnell ended the segment by suggesting the internet is the only place to find truth. The View co-host, it should be pointed out, is also a 9/11 truther.

A transcript of the February 9 segment is below:

11:09am ET

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: NBC News anchor Brian Williams announced he’s going to step down for several days because of the fallout of his false claim of being shot down in Iraq. Now, some of his other reporting, people are taking a close look and he’s just cancelled an appearance on Letterman, which isn’t that surprising. But, you know, is this the right thing to be doing is to lay low?

NICOLLE WALLACE: You know, I worked in PR And politics. You get involved in how to manage a scandal. I think between it’s between Brian Williams and the viewers of his newscast, whether that endures. But I think there’s an interesting piece in the New York Times today by David Carr that raises this idea of an outside investigator. I think any organization under crisis or being questioned, the soccer league when there was a big scandal with the international – FIFA, I think is what it was called — you bring in a former FBI director or some outside body and they’re not doing that at this point and I wonder if that wouldn’t lend it a little more credibility.

ROSIE PEREZ: Stand up, apologize, and move on. I hope that, you know, the man put in a lot of years and it would be terrible that this incident would just wipe away an entire career. And, you know, I’m a forgiving person. You know? He admitted to his mistake and I think it would have been stronger if he said, I lied, I didn’t mean to, I’m sorry.

ROSIE O’DONNELL: But you have to trust the news anchors. You know, Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, he took off his glasses. He said, “There’s no way to win this war. It’s an unjust war. And what happened? People took to the streets and the Vietnam War ended. So, you have to really trust the newscasters to bring you the news. And I think his credibility is being called into question, not only this instance, but over a series of exaggerations and/or lies or whatever you want to call it. And I think it should let people need to know that what you hear on the news is not always the truth.

GOLDBERG: Well, they kinda got that idea, I think. They knew that. You know? You know?

O’DONNELL: I don’t know. People seem to believe it if it’s on the news or in the paper. But, you know, if you can’t trust the guy saying it, I think it’s going to be difficult.

GOLDBERG: I think that’s why people have such a hard time with the news. That’s why people go to the BBC to find out what the news is or the McClair/Lerner Hour [SIC] on PBS. How old am I? Because people really don’t trust a lot of folks giving them the news because the news has now become an opinion poll as opposed to the news which is what we grew up. Which is why, you know, Walter Cronkite would very rarely put his two cents in about how he felt. But, you know, for the most part you knew what was happening, you made your assessment. You decided how you feel about it. Now folks say, “The whale ate the people and I just don’t think that was a good –” I don’t want to hear you talking about that. I just want you to tell me what happened. I don’t care how you feel about it.

O’DONNELL: Yeah. You know, it’s also because it’s corporately owned. It’s very different than the news. You know, the fourth estate is supposed to keep democracy in balance. And what happens? If the corporations, only five corporations, own all of the media, you’re only getting a view that enhances their financial bottom line.

WALLACE: But here’s a great counter to that.

O’DONNELL: Thank you, one person clapped. Appreciate that.

WALLACE: But a great counter weight to that is this is a handful of guys on the helicopter that actually did get shot down that revealed this on social media. They had no money. They’re veterans. You guys know how much money veterans make. So, the giant corporations that you talk about met their match in five guys on the internet.

O’DONNELL: Right. That’s why net neutrality is so important because it’s the only news you’re getting.

Media Research Center | 1900 Campus Commons Drive Suite 600 | Reston, VA 20191 | (571) 267-3500 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to MRC Alert: NBC’s Guthrie Lobs Softball to Axelrod On ‘Whether Racism Animated’ Obama Critics

Comments are closed.