On Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, senior White House correspondent Chris Jansing provided not only spin favorable to President Obama a day after his prime time speech on ISIS, but also suggested that this could help the President in the midterm elections.
At the conclusion of her report, Jansing told viewers that: "It's a war the President inherited with decisions made now shaping his legacy and his successor's as well. Something else to watch, while it's too soon to tell how voters will react to the President's plan from last night, if they rally around the Commander-in-Chief it could impact the midterm elections with control of the Senate at stake."
Earlier in her report, she proclaimed that the Obama administration was “putting on a full court press tonight with members of the administration lobbying from the Middle East to Capitol Hill” with officials giving scores of press interviews to the news media to promote the President. Further, she diagnosed that there was “a sense of urgency” in the administration “about pushing forward the President's message from last night that America must now broaden the fight against terror.”
Jansing’s liberal bias was not limited to just her on the program. Just prior, anchor Brian Williams stated at the top of the program that “[t]he wheels are already in motion to convert the President’s words into an air assault to destroy ISIS.”
NBC’s defense of the President continued to vary from NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, who has been pointing out concerns and problems that remain to be solved as the U.S. attacks ISIS. Disputing the notion that Obama’s strategy is a counterterrorism operation and not a war against ISIS, Engel said “this is far more than” that.
While Engel acknowledged that Secretary of State John Kerry is working to build a coalition, he again vocalized his issues with the President’s strategy on the air:
[T]he U.S. needs more than support. It need fighters. It needs people who will take the fight to ISIS while the Americans bomb from the sky and who are those fighters going to be? In Iraq, the logical ally would be the Iraqi army, but the Iraqi army is in bad shape and even though the U.S. spent $25 billion, it needs to be retrained and also the Free Syrian Army, the FSA, that has collapsed. So the allies on the ground, they're not there.
On the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, he asked CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes whether President Obama will “win” the vote to receive funding to arm and train Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. To that, Cordes replied that “it looks like he will” even though “lawmakers from both sides do have some pretty serious misgivings.”
Thursday night’s network coverage comes after the major broadcast networks provided plenty of positive remarks for the President and his speech as they hailed Obama’s international coalition despite major allies Britain and Germany backing out of involvement in U.S. air strikes. As the Media Research Center’s Scott Whitlock reported, the cover provided to Obama was in comparison to 2003, when “ABC, NBC, and CBS hit George W. Bush for “going it alone” with a coalition of 18 countries.”
The relevant portions of the transcript from NBC Nightly News on September 11 are transcribed below.
NBC Nightly News
September 11, 2014
7:00 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]
BRIAN WILLIAMS: On our broadcast tonight, plan of attack. The wheels are already in motion to convert the President's words into an air assault to destroy ISIS and tonight, we have reaction from inside Syria.
7:01 p.m. Eastern
WILLIAMS: Good evening. Just hours after the President's speech to the nation, the White House said today possible targets had already been identified and selected for air strikes. While the administration will not call this a declaration of war against ISIS, this terrorist group the likes of which we have never quite seen before, it does appear the administration believes they can do this by air power while leaving any ground fighting to other countries. We begin tonight with our senior White House correspondent Chris Jansing in the briefing room in the West Wing. Chris, good evening.
CHRIS JANSING: Good evening, Brian. The White House is putting on a full court press tonight with members of the administration lobbying from the Middle East to Capitol Hill. Today, senior officials were given interviews here and abroad. There is a sense of urgency about pushing forward the President's message from last night that America must now broaden the fight against terror. President Obama now has a strategy to fight ISIS: Expand air strikes, support fighters opposing extremists and build an international coalition to help.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country wherever they are.
CHRIS JANSING: But he faces significant challenges at home starting on Capitol Hill.
HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: A lot of our members don't feel like the campaign that was outlined last night will accomplish the mission that the president says.
JANSING: The President is asking for the authority to allow the U.S. to train foreign troops on foreign soil.
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JOSH EARNEST: And that's why we're asking Congress to act urgently to give him that authority.
JANSING: Boehner himself supports that, but is putting off a vote until next week. Meantime, members spent a hectic day in and out of meetings and classified briefings.
CONGRESSMAN HAL ROGERS (R-Ky.): This is like cramming for a final exam.
JANSING: Polls show Americans favor action against ISIS but that public support might not hold if there are casualties.
OBAMA: There are risks involved.
JANSING: And voters have serious concerns about the President's leadership. He has drawn a red line.
OBAMA: We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.
JANSING: But critics warn it's a slippery slope. There will soon be 1,600 American troops acting as advisors in Iraq.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.) There is no way in hell we're going to beat these guys without American ground component in Iraq and Syria.
JANSING: And the President's strategy won't be easy or quick.
OBAMA: It will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL.
JANSING: But is there a clear exit strategy? The President says the goal is to destroy ISIS.
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN (D-W.V.): I just don't – I just don’t see the end game here.
JANSING: It's a war the President inherited with decisions made now shaping his legacy and his successor's as well. Something else to watch, while it's too soon to tell how voters will react to the President's plan from last night, if they rally around the Commander-in-Chief it could impact the midterm elections with control of the Senate at stake. Brian.
WILLIAMS: Chris Jansing at the White House tonight to start off. Chris, thanks.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: We want to turn now to our chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel whose following all of this from his post back inside Iraq and Richard, the U.S. is calling this operation against ISIS counterterrorism, but it's really a lot more than that, isn't it?
RICHARD ENGEL: Brian, this is far more than just a counterterrorism operation. The U.S., often in secret, carries out counterterrorism missions all the time, with drones in places like Yemen and Somalia. This time, the U.S. is building, through Secretary Kerry, a broad international coalition and in the Arab world it is getting some support, but the U.S. needs more than support. It need fighters. It needs people who will take the fight to ISIS while the Americans bomb from the sky and who are those fighters going to be? In Iraq, the logical ally would be the Iraqi army, but the Iraqi army is in bad shape and even though the U.S. spent $25 billion, it needs to be retrained and also the Free Syrian Army, the FSA, that has collapsed. So the allies on the ground, they're not there, Brian.
WILLIAMS: Richard Engel inside Iraq tonight for us. Richard, thanks.
The full transcript from the segment that aired on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on September 11 is transcribed below.
CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
September 11, 2014
6:34 p.m. Eastern
SCOTT PELLEY: War or not, the President's plan includes arming moderate Syrian rebels to fight ISIS on the ground while the U.S. attacks from the air. Congress is expected to vote next week on granting the President the authority to provide those arms. Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill, and, Nancy, will the President win that vote?
NANCY COREDES: At this point, Scott, it looks like he will, although lawmakers from both sides do have some pretty serious misgivings. They worry that it's going to take years to turn these rebels into a true fighting force that's able to work with the U.S. to quash ISIS, and, so, House Speaker John Boehner and others wondered today who's going to fight on the ground in the meantime?
HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Air strikes alone will not accomplish what we're trying to accomplish and the President's made clear that he doesn't want U.S. boots on the ground. Well, somebody's boots have to be on the ground.
CORDES: [TO BOEHNER] Do you think that the President is wrong then to take U.S. combat troops on the ground in Syria off the table right now?
BOEHNER: I would never tell the enemy what I was willing to do or unwilling to do, but he is the Commander-in-Chief. He made that decision.
CORDES: No one here on Capitol Hill is advocating that U.S. combat forces get sent into Syria right now, but Republicans in particular, Scott, argue that it's impossible to predict what our military needs will be as the strategy unfolds.
PELLEY: Nancy Cordes on Capitol Hill for us, Nancy, thank you very much.