NBC Hails Obama’s ‘Deeply Emotional Appeal’ for Gun Control

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 as he went down the litany of the various mass shootings that have occurred around the country over the last several years.”

Turning to Jansing, he declared: “We have seen the President certainly emotional on this topic before, Chris, but not quite like what we saw over the last few minutes.” Jansing proclaimed: “Never like this, not the depth of this emotion.”

Referencing the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Jansing observed: “...he had said that was the worst day of his life. He was deeply affected by it....you saw that frustration and that emotion come to the surface.”

Sounding like a White House spokesperson, Jansing continued:

So the President really was always expecting to make this about the common sense of this, to have an appeal to people, to bring them back to those times. We remember what it felt like after Newtown, when people who had gone into a movie theater in Aurora lost their lives, when people who were in a work party in San Bernardino lost their lives. But this was a deeply emotional appeal that I think takes this fight to a very different place...

Holt wrapped up the special report by reiterating: “The President using the term ‘common sense’ over and over again and made it clear this not a plot to take away everybody's gun.”

Before the President spoke, Jansing helpfully touted statistics favorable to the left’s gun control cause: “The biggest thing is to try to expand background checks. We know that in states that have universal background checks, gun deaths have gone down....Right now, about 40% of gun sales do not require that. So, by really toughening up these regulations, they can have more people checked out before they're able to get a gun.”

During an ABC News special report, Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos touted similar numbers prior to Obama’s remarks: “President Obama is about to speak in the East Room of the White House announcing new actions to take on the epidemic of gun violence in America. Last year alone, more than 50,000 incidents of gun violence in this country, 372 mass shootings in which four or more were killed or injured.”

However, he did acknowledge: “...our recent polls show that even though most Americans support more background checks, fewer see gun control as the best way to address mass shootings or terrorism.”

On CBS, Evening News anchor Scott Pelley came on the air and told viewers: “President Obama is about to announce his latest plan for reducing gun violence. Much of it to be done on his own by executive action, going around the Republican-controlled Congress.”

None of the networks bothered to fact-check Obama’s assertion that his proposals would actually prevent gun violence.

Here is a full transcript of the January 5 NBC special report:

11:39 AM ET

LESTER HOLT: Good day from New York. We’re coming on the air because President Obama is about to announce a number of new executive actions he plans to take to bypass Congress on the issue of gun control. The President will be joined for this announcement by 12 people who have lost loved ones in mass shootings. NBC News senior White House correspondent Chris Jansing is on the north lawn. Chris, give us details of what the President is about to announce.

CHRIS JANSING: The biggest thing is to try to expand background checks. We know that in states that have universal background checks, gun deaths have gone down. How will he do that? He’s going to expand the definition of what it means to be a gun dealer because that means you have to be licensed. If you have to be licensed, that means you have to do a background check.

Right now, about 40% of gun sales do not require that. So, by really toughening up these regulations, they can have more people checked out before they're able to get a gun. To do that they'll also have to add new FBI agents. They're also looking for money from Congress for more ATF agents as well.

That is something that could be setting up a fight because Republicans in congress, Republicans on the campaign trail, have been very much against this. They say that this is the President taking matters into his own hands. Chris Christie called him a petulant child. So this is going to set up a political fight. But today, this is the President making his case to the American people, who largely support background checks in general. Lester?

HOLT: Alright, Chris. And the President is about speak in a moment. He’s being introduced right now by Newtown father Mark Barden, he lost his seven-year-old son Daniel in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.

[PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS]

HOLT: President Obama in an emotional over-half-hour-long address announcing executive actions to further his goal toward gun control, working essentially around Congress. His executive essentially expanding background checks by requiring those who sell guns, more of those who sell guns, to be registered as federally licensed gun dealers. The President specifically talking about some of the online sales he believes have worked around the requirements of background checks. The President at one point fighting back tears, the tears actually flowing as he went down the litany of the various mass shootings that have occurred around the country over the last several years.

We should note there has been immediate reaction. Speaker Paul Ryan issued a statement calling the President's executive order “an effort to undermine the Second Amendment.” He says in a statement, “No matter what President Obama says, his word does not trump the Second Amendment. We will conduct vigilant oversight. His executive order will no doubt be challenged in the courts.” Again, part of the statement from Speaker Paul Ryan about the president's executive action. Chris Jansing, our senior White House correspondent, has been watching along with us from the north lawn. We have seen the President certainly emotional on this topic before, Chris, but not quite like what we saw over the last few minutes.

JANSING: Never like this, not the depth of this emotion. You'll remember, Lester, that after Newtown, he had said that was the worst day of his life. He was deeply affected by it. He was introduced by the father of a 7-year-old who was killed there. And when he brought up Newtown and he brought up the deaths of those 20 children, first graders, you saw that frustration and that emotion come to the surface.

This was never expected to be a detailed – do we have that? So let's show the President. So the President really was always expecting to make this about the common sense of this, to have an appeal to people, to bring them back to those times. We remember what it felt like after Newtown, when people who had gone into a movie theater in Aurora lost their lives, when people who were in a work party in San Bernardino lost their lives. But this was a deeply emotional appeal that I think takes this fight to a very different place in front of, obviously, an audience of people who feel very much the same as he does, Lester.

HOLT: Chris Jansing. The President using the term “common sense” over and over again and made it clear this not a plot to take away everybody's gun. There’s a lot of reaction to all this, of course we’ll have it for you coming up tonight on NBC Nightly News and on NBCNews.com. I’m Lester Holt in New York, this has been an NBC News Special Report. Good day.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is the Senior News Analyst for MRC