NBC’s O’Donnell on Bush News Conference: ‘Campaign Style Rhetoric and Crystal Ball’

The "Today" show’s Kelly O’Donnell described President Bush’s discussion of the Iraq War at yesterday’s news conference as "a mix of campaign style rhetoric and crystal ball." O’Donnell, who seemed perturbed by the President’s determined attitude, also mentioned that Bush counseled against an early withdrawal "with a hammering repetition." (If President Bush repeated himself, it might be because the assembled media kept asking the same questions.)

The August 22 segment, which aired at 7:15AM EDT, featured downbeat assessments by Michael O’Hanlon, a Senior Fellow at the liberal Brookings Institute and political analyst Charlie Cook.

Michael O’Hanlon: "I think if the President insists on framing the choice as stay the course versus accept defeat, he will be, frankly, misleading the public and running the risk of undercutting his own support even more."

Charlie Cook: "I think the danger for Republicans is that we are nearing, or at the point, when people just give up and start tuning out on President Bush."

O’Donnell later added, "And the President tried to not alienate many Americans, many of them moderates or some Republicans who have turned away from him." Nowhere in the piece did she mention the new Gallup Poll that shows the Bush’s approval rating has increased to 42 percent, or the fact that confidence in his Iraq policy has risen slightly.

Ms. O'Donnell then indicated that Bush "softened the edges of some of his criticism, but not his intent." This clip followed immediately:

President Bush: "I will never question the patriotism of somebody who disagrees with me. This has nothing to do with patriotism. It has everything to do with understanding the world in which we live."

The juxtaposition of O’Donnell’s comment and the quote might lead a less informed viewer to assume that the President is no longer questioning the patriotism of his opponents, but has in the past. He has not.

Just for good measure, Pat Buchanan was brought on in the subsequent segment. Buchanan is a right-winger that liberals love, in other words, a conservative who attacks other conservatives. He told co-host David Gregory that, regarding Iraq, "It's very hard to see how we’re gonna succeed."

(Special Thanks to new MRC member Justin McCarthy for catching the O'Donnell comments.)

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