NBC Joins Watergate Hysteria: ‘History Repeating Itself’ With Comey Firing?

After initially refraining from making irresponsible comparisons between President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey to the Watergate scandal, on Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News and Thursday’s Today, the network could no longer resist its liberal instincts, joining ABC and CBS in labeling Trump the new Richard Nixon.

During a report on Nightly News, correspondent Hallie Jackson featured a soundbite of former Nixon White House Counsel and liberal commentator John Dean, who proclaimed: “These are the kind of mistakes that were made during Watergate. They are careless. They are thoughtless. They’re not well-planned.”

Jackson followed up with: “The President meeting today with Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon’s former right-hand man, perhaps thumbing his nose at those Watergate comparisons from critics...”

On Today, during an interview with former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone, co-host Matt Lauer seized on a brief comment the presidential confidante made in jest following the Comey firing: “Something else you said recently is that ‘Somewhere Dick Nixon is smiling,’ obviously alluding to the Saturday Night Massacre, Archibald Cox.”

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The anchor eagerly ran with the comparison: “You are a history student. You know that the firing of Archibald Cox set in motion a series of events that led to the down fall of Richard Nixon. Are you worried about history repeating itself?”

Stone explained:

No, because the situations are apples and oranges. I knew the analogy would be made, that’s the point of that reference. But Watergate had been at full blast for 18 months. Archibald Cox was investigating Richard Nixon. Donald Trump is not under investigation. Mr. Comey, so far, has come up empty handed, based on what I have seen.

Appearing with Stone was film maker Morgan Pehme, who recently completed a documentary about Stone for Netflix. Lauer wondered: “Do you find it as hard to get the true picture of Roger Stone?” Pehme added to the Watergate references: “Roger is a very complex person, that’s why we wanted to make this movie about him....Roger has been in the mix of a lot of the most transformative, and depending upon where you fall on the political spectrum, destructive events in our history since Watergate.”

Here are excerpts from the May 11 sit-down with Stone:

7:34 AM ET

(...)

MATT LAUER: You’re elated by the firing of James Comey, that’s fair to say?

ROGER STONE: Yes, that is fair to say.

LAUER: You tweeted this, quote, “What Comey did to Hillary Clinton was disgraceful. I'm glad Trump fired him over it.” Isn’t that a bit disingenuous?  

STONE: There’s a little sarcasm there.

LAUER: Yeah, I mean, you’re the guy who said “lock her up” and you praised Julian Assange for leaking the e-mails.

STONE: Sometimes one needs to be a bit sarcastic to get attention.

LAUER: Well, were you being sarcastic when you said, “I’m glad Trump fired him over it”? In other words, it was all about the e-mail investigation, nothing to do with Russia here?

STONE: Well, the Russian collusion scandal is a scandal without evidence to this day. There is still no evidence that would ever hold up in a U.S. court of law. At least not so far.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, the investigation isn’t complete, correct?

STONE: Right, but I at least know what’s in my e-mails and I know what’s in my texts, and I know what the context of my phone calls are. And I believe that I was under surveillance for some period. So there’s a lot of things you’ll find in there, but I’ll tell you what you won’t find –  any Russians.

GUTHRIE: But to Matt’s initial question, do you, in your heart of hearts, believe that James Comey was fired by this president because of the Hillary Clinton e-mail issue or because of Russia?

STONE: That had nothing to do with Russia. I think it had to do with the fact that the President no longer had confidence in him. That he had become unaccountable, a law unto himself. Investigating some crimes that he felt were important, ignoring others. I think it was just time for a clean break.

LAUER: Something else you said recently is that “Somewhere Dick Nixon is smiling”...

STONE: Yes, well that –

LAUER: ...obviously alluding to the Saturday Night Massacre, Archibald Cox. You are a history student. You know that the firing of Archibald Cox set in motion a series of events that led to the down fall of Richard Nixon. Are you worried about history repeating itself?

STONE: No, because the situations are apples and oranges. I knew the analogy would be made, that’s the point of that reference. But Watergate had been at full blast for 18 months. Archibald Cox was investigating Richard Nixon. Donald Trump is not under investigation. Mr. Comey, so far, has come up empty handed, based on what I have seen.

(...)

7:36 AM ET

LAUER: Are you personally relieved that Comey’s no longer on the job in terms of how it relates to any legal jeopardy you might face?

STONE: I have no legal jeopardy. The idea of Russian collusion is a canard. It’s a falsehood.

LAUER: Morgan, we find it hard to pin him down on things. You spent five years-plus following him around to make this documentary. Do you find it as hard to get the true picture of Roger Stone?

MORGAN PEHME [FILM MAKER, “GET ME ROGER STONE”]: Roger is a very complex person, that’s why we wanted to make this movie about him. You know, I think that Roger has a tendency to take credit for things that he hasn’t done. And that may have been the case with this Russian collusion story. But at the same time, as our film demonstrates, Roger has been in the mix of a lot of the most transformative, and depending upon where you fall on the political spectrum, destructive events in our history since Watergate.

(...)

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