Andrea Mitchell Rushes to Defend Obama’s Handling of North Korea

After the network evening newscasts downplayed or ignored the father of freed North Korea hostage Otto Warmbier criticizing the Obama administration’s failure to bring his severely injured son home, on Friday’s NBC Today, correspondent Andrea Mitchell actually devoted a full report to the topic. However, her focus was on parroting excuses from former Obama officials.

Mitchell began the segment at the top of the morning show’s 8 a.m. ET hour by lamenting: “The tragic return of college student Otto Warmbier, now released from North Korea, but in an unexplained comatose state, is now becoming a political issue...” The headline on screen disrespectfully blared: “Otto Warmbier’s Father Lashes Out; Did Obama Administration Do Enough to Help Rescue Student?”

Noting how Fred Warmbier was “praising the Trump administration for bringing his son home” and “blaming the Obama administration for not rescuing him,” Mitchell further explained: “The parents’ anger building after hearing nothing about their son for 18 months, despite making more than a dozen trips to Washington. Seeing then-Secretary of State John Kerry, but never talking to President Obama.”

Rather than let such criticism stand on its own merit, Mitchell touted how “The Obama administration is fighting back.” A soundbite followed of former National Security Council Spokesman Ned Price assuring the liberal reporter: “We had no higher priority, absolutely no higher priority than securing the release of Mr. Warmbier.”

Far from done, Mitchell then proceeded to recite two more statements defending the former president’s handling of the hostage crisis:

In a statement to NBC News, John Kerry saying, “I am glad that Otto is home, particularly grateful to Ambassador Yun for the work he did under the last administration and this one to make it a reality, and I hope above all, that there is hope ahead for Otto.” A former Obama official adding, “Secretary Kerry had succeeded in 2014 in bringing Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller home from North Korea by working out of the spotlight just as officials did for decades.”  

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Besides running to get comment from Obama loyalists, Mitchell also attempted to deflect Warmbier’s criticism by trying to change the subject: “...another grieving American family lashes out at the U.S. policy of not ransoming their loved ones....a no-ransom policy denounced by families like the parents of James Foley, slain by ISIS in Syria.”

At no point did Warmbier demand that Obama administration offer North Korea a “ransom” for his son, nor is there any evidence that any ransom was given to the authoritarian regime by the Trump administration to secure Otto Watmbier’s release. Mitchell seemed to be shifting the blame to longstanding U.S. policy rather than the Obama administration’s inability to get results.

Following Warmbier’s press conference on Thursday, MSNBC shamefully cast aside his legitimate criticism of Obama by dismissing his comments as nothing more than “rhetoric” from “someone who isn’t necessarily politically sophisticated.”

Mitchell’s biased reporting was brought to viewers by Chevrolet, Kraft Velveeta, and Folgers.

Here is a full transcript of Mitchell’s June 16 report:

8:04 AM ET

HODA KOTB: In our last hour we heard from the father of former North Korean detainee Otto Warmbier. And during the news conference, he voiced his frustration at how long it took to bring his son home, pointing a finger at the Obama administration. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell has that part of the story. Andrea, good morning.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good morning, Hoda. The tragic return of college student Otto Warmbier, now released from North Korea, but in an unexplained comatose state, is now becoming a political issue as another grieving American family lashes out at the U.S. policy of not ransoming their loved ones.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Otto Warmbier’s Father Lashes Out; Did Obama Administration Do Enough to Help Rescue Student?]

Otto Warmbier, a carefree college student in the wrong country at the wrong time. His father praising the Trump administration for bringing his son home on Fox.

FRED WARMBIER: Our government forced North Korea’s hand and made them admit Otto’s situation.

MITCHELL: Earlier blaming the Obama administration for not rescuing him.

WARMBIER: The question is, do I think the past administration could have done more? I think the results speak for themselves.

MITCHELL: The parents’ anger building after hearing nothing about their son for 18 months, despite making more than a dozen trips to Washington. Seeing then-Secretary of State John Kerry, but never talking to President Obama.

WARMBIER: Oh, never, never. Absolutely not.

MITCHELL: Almost as soon as President Trump took office in February, the State Department says President Trump ordered Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to focus on Warmbier’s plight.

WARMBIER: We’re also thankful to Rex Tillerson and to President Trump. They wanted Otto home.

MITCHELL: The Obama administration is fighting back.

NED PRICE [OBAMA’S NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN]: We had no higher priority, absolutely no higher priority than securing the release of Mr. Warmbier.

MITCHELL: In a statement to NBC News, John Kerry saying, “I am glad that Otto is home, particularly grateful to Ambassador Yun for the work he did under the last administration and this one to make it a reality, and I hope above all, that there is hope ahead for Otto.” A former Obama official adding, “Secretary Kerry had succeeded in 2014 in bringing Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller home from North Korea by working out of the spotlight just as officials did for decades.” Sticking to a no-ransom policy denounced by families like the parents of James Foley, slain by ISIS in Syria.  

LISA MONACO [DHS & COUNTER-TERRORISM ADVISER FOR OBAMA ADMIN.]: The policy, that’s been a decades-old policy of not paying ransom, I think is the right policy.

MITCHELL: A U.S. diplomat, Ambassador Joe Yun, is the person who did negotiate twice with the North Koreans in New York and in Norway, and finally did bring him home. Obama officials say there’s no explanation for why Kim Jong-Un finally relented and how he got – how this college student became comatose and for how long. Hoda?  

KOTB: Andrea. Andrea Mitchell, thank you so much.

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