NBC’s Holt Lectures Viewers on the Meaning of the Statue of Liberty

With the debate over the legality of President Donald Trump’s immigration and travel ban still raging Monday evening, NBC broadcasted their Nightly News program “from the shadow of the Statue of Liberty” accompanied by a lecture from anchor Lester Holt. “Behind me the Statue of Liberty, which for nearly 130 years, has symbolized the welcome arms of a country of immigrants,” he opined at the start of the program, “But tonight she also stands as a symbolic flashpoint in a country in the midst of soul searching over the limits of its generosity in an age of international terrorism.”

NBC, much like its competitors ABC and CBS, spent most of their Monday night program centered on the White House’s controversial executive order. “The White House calls it a necessary step to protect Americans at home from threats from abroad,” Holt continued, “Critics call it a solution in search of a problem and an unconstitutional and thinly disguised ban on Muslims.”

But neither ABC nor CBS treated it as a time to seemingly pontificate about the morality of the issue, let alone march out to the Statue of Liberty and use it as a prop:

And a final thought before we leave you tonight. There's been a lot of talk about who we are as a country and how we should represent ourselves to the world. For many, the ideals inscribed on the statue behind me frame that discussion. For others, the threats of a modern era necessitate adapting to a new reality. It is complicated and in many ways forms a new crossroads in America. And we will remain at the intersection of this unfolding story to report it.

Long before the show started, NBC was hyping Lester’s lecture with a video tweeted out by the NBC Nightly News account, where he said of Lady Liberty, “In many ways, it has become a symbol of a country right now wrestling to reconcile its creed versus its security needs.” And of the veracity of their reporting, he claimed, “Tonight we’ve got all the sides covered in this. The legal debate. The debates about what we saw at the airports. As well as the rationale for the president’s decision.” But the only side they covered it from was the left.

If NBC really wanted to cover “all the sides,” then they would have done what CBS Evening News did and actually report on the support for the ban. “Today the White House said that most Americans agree with the immigration ban and a respected poll from Quinnipiac University agrees,” announced anchor Scott Pelley, “It was taken three weeks ago, and by margin of 48 to 42 percent, American voters support suspending immigration from terror-prone regions, even if it means turning away refugees.”

CBS reporter Dean Reynolds actually went out and spoke with supporters of Trump and the travel ban, something NBC and ABC failed to do. “Trump supporters were on hand at Los Angeles International Airport this weekend voicing their belief that the president's immigration order is sensible and overdue,” he reported. Reynolds sat down with Trump voter and internet entrepreneur Vito Glazers who told him, “Well, I don't think it's perfect. I do think it's a great step to creating much-needed action in the right direction.”

When asked if he thought politics was involved with the order’s opposition Glazers joked, “Absolutely. I think that if we were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse that the left would find a way to protest for zombies' rights.”

Instead of lecturing America on the values of liberty, Holt would have been better served by going out and talking to the people. 

Transcripts below: 

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NBC Nightly News
January 30, 2017
7:01:20 PM Eastern

LESTER HOLT: Good evening. Behind me the Statue of Liberty, which for nearly 130 years, has symbolized the welcome arms of a country of immigrants. But tonight she also stands as a symbolic flashpoint in a country in the midst of soul searching over the limits of its generosity in an age of international terrorism. This evening protesters joined by some members of Congress have gathered outside the Supreme Court in Washington. Following a weekend of fierce and emotional reaction and confusion over president Trump's temporary ban on travel to the United States by citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries. The White House calls it a necessary step to protect Americans at home from threats from abroad. Critics call it a solution in search of a problem and an unconstitutional and thinly disguised ban on Muslims. Tonight we'll hear from both sides.

7:28:44 PM

HOLT: And a final thought before we leave you tonight. There's been a lot of talk about who we are as a country and how we should represent ourselves to the world. For many, the ideals inscribed on the statue behind me frame that discussion. For others, the threats of a modern era necessitate adapting to a new reality. It is complicated and in many ways forms a new crossroads in America. And we will remain at the intersection of this unfolding story to report it. That will do it for us on a Monday night. I'm Lester Holt. For all of us at NBC News, thank you for watching and good night from Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

Tweeted promo video from @NBCNightlyNews
January 30, 2017

LESTER HOLT: Well good evening, everybody. We’re going to be bringing you Nightly News tonight live from the Liberty State Park in New Jersey. Behind me, of course, the Statue of Liberty. In many ways, it has become a symbol of a country right now wrestling to reconcile its creed versus its security needs. Of course, it was a weekend of protest and confusion over the administration’s move to ban certain groups from coming to the country, the refugee crackdowns. So, we’re going to discuss that. Tonight we’ve got all the sides covered in this. The legal debate. The debates about what we saw at the airports. As well as the rationale for the president’s decision. So that’s coming up tonight on a special edition of Nightly News coming to you from the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. We’ll see you then. 

...

CBS Evening News
January 30, 2017
6:40:27 PM Eastern

SCOTT PELLEY: Today the White House said that most Americans agree with the immigration ban and a respected poll from Quinnipiac University agrees. It was taken three weeks ago, and by margin of 48 to 42 percent, American voters support suspending immigration from terror-prone regions, even if it means turning away refugees. 53 percent support requiring immigrants from Muslim countries to register with the government. Here's Dean Reynolds.

[Cuts to video]

DEAN REYNOLDS: Trump supporters were on hand at Los Angeles International Airport this weekend voicing their belief that the president's immigration order is sensible and overdue.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: He’s keeping our country safe and lawful.

REYNOLDS: Vito Glazers is a Chicago internet entrepreneur who voted for the president. What do you think of this executive order on immigration?

VITO GLAZERS: Well, I don't think it's perfect. I do think it's a great step to creating much-needed action in the right direction.

REYNOLDS: Mr. Trump's stand on immigration was important in winning Glazers' support, and while he's only one voice, polls say his views are representative of many fellow Trump supporters.

GLAZERS: I don't want America to end up in a place where political correctness is being used against us to destroy us.

REYNOLDS: Do you think politics is at work here?

GLAZERS: Absolutely. I think that if we were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse that the left would find a way to protest for zombies' rights.

[Cuts back to live]

REYNOLDS: He also said something else that probably a lot of Trump supporters agree with, Scott, that it’s ironic that so many people are upset with a president who is merely following through on promises he made during the campaign.

PELLEY: Dean Reynolds in Chicago, thanks

Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas C. Fondacaro