On Wednesday, all three network morning shows offered rave reviews of President Obama’s final State of the Union address, applauding the “passionate defense of his record” and his repeated attacks on Republicans. Leading off NBC’s Today, co-host Matt Lauer announced: “Return to hope and change....President Obama uses his last State of the Union address to tout his accomplishments, set some lofty goals, and take a veiled shot at Donald Trump.”
Kyle Drennen is the Media Research Center's Senior News Analyst and a Contributing Editor to NewsBusters. He is the co-author of the 2014 Media Reality Check study, TV News Blacks Out This Year’s Bad Election News for Democrats. His media analysis has been routinely cited by nationally syndicated radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, as well as on Fox News and The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.com website. He joined the MRC in 2007 after graduating from Providence College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science.
Despite most of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s response to the State of the Union being a takedown of President Obama, during interviews with the Republican on Wednesday, NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning focused exclusively on her warning against the “angriest voices” in the GOP.
During Tuesday’s fawning Today show special at the White House, President Obama’s chief digital officer Jason Goldman appeared on the broadcast and congratulated the hosts for serving as a propaganda tool for the administration: “I think you guys do this really well with the Today show. You know, the stuff you've been doing this morning, showing stuff behind the scenes is really great...and I think it’s the kind of thing that people look for.”
During a lengthy interview with President Obama conducted on Monday and aired on Tuesday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer worried about Republican presidential candidates playing on the “fear” of the American people: “That fear, though, is still incredibly real....And in some ways, it's driving the current presidential campaign. You've got a guy like Donald Trump and others who have recognized and identified that fear....And in some ways, they’re running on it.”
On Tuesday’s NBC Today – aired live from the White House to promote President Obama’s final State of the Union – the morning shows hosts could not contain their glee at being there. At the top of the show, co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed: “And a morning show first....an unprecedented morning live at the White House....a moment of history for us, for this show, and where so much history has been made.”
On her MSNBC show on Monday, host Andrea Mitchell derided the film 13 Hours, opening in theaters nationwide on Friday: “That new film about Benghazi coming out this week could give wider circulation to conspiracy theories, despite denials, that CIA operatives were told to stand down and not rescue four Americans, including an ambassador, who died in that assault.”
Just weeks before the Iowa Caucus, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres again gave Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton a softball platform to promote her candidacy. At one point, DeGeneres reiterated her endorsement of Clinton: “And you know what a supporter I am. I think that you’re as smart as can be, I think you are qualified, I think you stand for everything that I want in a president.”
Wrapping up an interview with left-wing music mogul Russell Simmons on Monday’s CBS This Morning, co-host Charlie Rose wondered: “Are you ready for President Trump?” Simmons sarcastically replied: “No. I think I'm ready for him to win the Republican primary. That’d be good.”
The latest gushing edition of Politico Magazine released on Wednesday entitled “The Obama Issue: A Special Report on a Historic Presidency,” was loaded with one article after another largely celebrating the impact of President Obama’s waning administration.
In an interview with House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday, Yahoo! News anchor Katie Couric grilled the Republican leader on gun control: “Let’s talk about President Obama’s executive action on guns. What did you think when the President cried?...Were you affected by it?” Couric demanded Ryan put “aside” the Constitution: “And I know you vehemently oppose the President’s use of executive actions, but Constitutional issues aside, Mr. Speaker, do you still believe closing the gun show loophole is reasonable?”
On Friday, all three network morning shows promoted CNN’s Thursday night gun control town hall event with President Obama and highlighted the commander-in-chief smearing gun rights supporters as conspiracy theorists. In a news brief on ABC’s Good Morning America, anchor Amy Robach declared: “President Obama is defending his executive actions on gun control. During a town hall meeting in Virginia, he denied any suggestion of a conspiracy against gun owners' rights and he said he's willing to meet with the NRA.”
On Thursday, NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning joined ABC’s Good Morning America in promoting Donald Trump questioning Ted Cruz being a natural born U.S. citizen. On Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed: “Donald Trump is escalating his attacks on Republican rival Ted Cruz, reiterating questions about the Texas senator's eligibility to run for president. And now another prominent Republican is suggesting the issue is worth looking into.”
At the top of Wednesday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer teased an “exciting” announcement about the morning show preparing to broadcast from a new location far from its New York studio. Fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie added: “Yeah, the whole show is headed somewhere. We’ll have more on that in a minute.”
All three network morning shows on Wednesday were in awe of President Obama tearing up during his White House gun control address on Tuesday. On NBC’s Today, co-host Matt Lauer used the “rare display of emotion” to tee-up a four-minute segment on “The Politics of Tears” and Obama being the “Latest in Long Line of Emotional Politicians.”
During special coverage of President Obama’s announcement of gun control executive orders on Tuesday, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt and senior White House correspondent Chris Jansing applauded the commander-in-chief playing on people’s emotions to win support for his unilateral action. Holt began: “President Obama in an emotional over-half-hour-long address announcing executive actions to further his goal toward gun control, working essentially around Congress.... at one point fighting back tears, the tears actually flowing..."
In an interview with actor John Krasinski about his role in the new movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi on ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday, co-host Lara Spencer fretted over the political impact of the film set to be released on January 15: “Do you feel like this movie will re-open the wound, the debate of what happened in Benghazi?”
In a stunning contrast displayed in back-to-back reports on Tuesday’s Today show, NBC correspondents portrayed chaos in the Republican presidential race while hailing Hillary Clinton as having all but won the White House.
On Monday, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell hosted her 12 p.m. ET hour show live from a Hillary Clinton campaign event, happily announcing: “I'm Andrea Mitchell live on the trail in Nashua, New Hampshire for President Clinton's first official public campaign event for his wife Hillary. Speaking moments ago here in Nashua, New Hampshire, a state that has been very good to the Clintons.”
On Monday, all three network morning shows touted Barack Obama planning to take unilateral executive action to restrict gun rights and worried that Republicans were already strong critics of the presidential power grab.
Appearing in the 3 p.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live on Tuesday, Hardball host Chris Matthews revealed how terrified he is at the prospect of Texas Senator Ted Cruz becoming president: “...Cruz is scarier than Trump and that will be a frightening prospect to realize....if we weren't talking about Trump, we’d be talking about the horror of this country possibly being led by Cruz.”