Nets Hit Tillerson for ‘No Government Experience,’ Predict ‘Tough Confirmation’

As news broke on Tuesday that Donald Trump had officially tapped ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to serve as Secretary of State, the network morning shows all decried the business executive’s lack of “government experience” and warned of a “tough” confirmation “battle” in the Senate.

At the top of NBC’s Today, co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: “Just moments ago, the President-elect nominating Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. The ExxonMobil CEO with no government or diplomatic experience and controversial ties to Russia set to face a tough confirmation.” Moments later, he reiterated: “...there is a lot of controversy surrounding this pick.”

In a later report, correspondent Andrea Mitchell predicted that “in choosing a Texas oil man with no government experience and deep ties to Vladimir Putin, the President-elect is also buying into what could be a bruising confirmation battle.” She argued that Tillerson “could face a confirmation challenge on Capitol Hill on the heels of the CIA assessment that Russia meddled in the U.S. election” and emphasized that he “is the first person nominated for Secretary of State in modern history with no public sector experience.”

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On ABC’s Good Morning America, correspondent Tom Llamas fretted: “Now, if Tillerson is confirmed this would totally break with tradition because he'd be the first pick ever with no government or military experience to lead the State Department.” He further explained:

Tillerson has no formal experience in government. But since taking his current role in 2006, the 64-year-old has brokered international deals as the leader of one of the world's most valuable publicly-traded oil companies, including deals with Russia....Tillerson's global ties, especially his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin now under the microscope....The expected cabinet appointment happening as leaders in Congress break with the President-elect, announcing they will investigate if Russia used hackers to try and influence the election.

In a panel discussion that followed, co-host George Stephanopoulos saw trouble ahead for the cabinet nominee: “We could find out at the confirmation hearings of Tillerson, he’s also getting caught in a squeeze play, questions from Republicans over those ties to Putin and Democrats on climate change.”

Leading off CBS This Morning, co-host Charlie Rose announced: “Donald Trump chooses an oil man for Secretary of State. ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson could face a confirmation fight over his ties to Russia.” In the first report on the news, correspondent Nancy Cordes noted: “Tillerson has spent his entire career, more than four decades, at ExxonMobil, so he has vast experience doing business with foreign governments, including Russia. And that has already been met with some criticism from those inside and outside his party.”

In another report that followed, fellow correspondent Margaret Brennan worried: “Well, Rex Tillerson will be the first Secretary of State in decades to take the job with no government experience. He is now America's chief diplomat and face to the world.”

Tillerson joins a long list of Trump cabinet picks that have been trashed by the media in recent weeks.

Here are excerpts from the coverage on all three morning shows:

Today
7:00 AM ET TEASE

MATT LAUER: Breaking news. It's Rex. Just moments ago, the President-elect nominating Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. The ExxonMobil CEO with no government or diplomatic experience and controversial ties to Russia set to face a tough confirmation.

(...)

7:02 AM ET

LAUER: In an e-mail, Mr. Trump promised Tillerson will be a, quote, “Forceful and clear-eyed advocate for American interests around the world.” But there is a lot of controversy surrounding this pick.

(...)

7:02 AM ET

PETER ALEXANDER: Despite Tillerson’s lack of diplomatic experience, Trump has touted his pick as a world-class player....But those business ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin could make Tillerson’s Senate confirmation contentious.

(...)

7:06 AM ET

ANDREA MITCHELL: In his statement announcing Rex Tillerson this morning, Donald Trump blasted what he calls years of misguided foreign policies. But in choosing a Texas oil man with no government experience and deep ties to Vladimir Putin, the President-elect is also buying into what could be a bruising confirmation battle. This morning, Donald Trump is tapping Rex Tillerson to become the nation’s top diplomat. But the CEO, set to become a critical member of Trump’s cabinet, could face a confirmation challenge on Capitol Hill on the heels of the CIA assessment that Russia meddled in the U.S. election.

(...)

7:07 AM ET

MITCHELL: Tillerson is the first person nominated for Secretary of State in modern history with no public sector experience.

(...)


GMA
7:02 AM ET

(...)

ROBIN ROBERTS: And also Trump nominating ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. His close ties to Vladimir Putin raising questions and ABC's Tom Llamas at the White House with all the details for us. Good morning, Tom.

LLAMAS:: Robin, good morning to you and the President-elect just tweeting moments ago posting on Twitter, “I have chosen one of the truly great business leaders of the world, Rex Tillerson, to be Secretary of State. Now if Tillerson is confirmed this would totally break with tradition because he'd be the first pick ever with no government or military experience to lead the State Department. This as President-elect Trump is also asking one of his former rivals to join his administration. This morning, President-elect Donald Trump making that much anticipated announcement, selecting ExxonMobil's CEO, Rex Tillerson, to be Secretary of State as a businessman, Tillerson was clear about his goals on deals overseas.

TILLERSON: I'm not here to represent the United States government's interests. I'm not here to defend it nor am I here to criticize it. That's not what I do. I'm a businessman.

LLAMAS: Tillerson has no formal experience in government. But since taking his current role in 2006, the 64-year-old has brokered international deals as the leader of one of the world's most valuable publicly traded oil companies, including deals with Russia.

TILLERSON: I've invested a lot of money, our company has invested a lot of money in Russia. Very successfully.

LLAMAS: Tillerson's global ties especially his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin now under the microscope. The two seen here sharing a champagne toast, Putin even honoring him with the order of friendship, one of the country's top honors for foreigners.

TILLERSON: I've known him since 1999 and I have a very close relationship with him. I don't agree with everything he's doing. I don't agree with everything a lot of leaders are doing.

LLAMAS: The expected cabinet appointment happening as leaders in Congress break with the President-elect, announcing they will investigate if Russia used hackers to try and influence the election.

(...)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We could find out at the confirmation hearings of Tillerson, he’s also getting caught in a squeeze play, questions from Republicans over those ties to Putin and Democrats on climate change.

RADDATZ: Exactly and that's another thing. We don't really know what Tillerson will do with that. He had business dealings that were affected by that before. He says he certainly believes in climate change. But Putin said they want a better relationship and that is going to be tougher right now because of that and because of these hacking charges although so far Donald Trump says he doesn't believe that.

(...)


CBS This Morning
7:00 AM ET TEASE

CHARLIE ROSE: Breaking news. Donald Trump chooses an oil man for Secretary of State. ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson could face a confirmation fight over his ties to Russia.

(...)

7:03 AM ET

ROSE: Mr. Trump announced this morning that he will nominate Rex Tillerson as the country's next top diplomat. The decision ends a very public search process. Tillerson could face a confirmation fight because of his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

(...)

7:03 AM ET

NANCY CORDES: Tillerson has spent his entire career, more than four decades, at ExxonMobil, so he has vast experience doing business with foreign governments, including Russia. And that has already been met with some criticism from those inside and outside his party.

(...)

7:06 AM ET

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Rex Tillerson will be the first Secretary of State in decades to take the job with no government experience. He is now America's chief diplomat and face to the world.

(...)       

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