Stung by criticism that he appeared unprofessional in his recent interview with President Bush, NBC's Brian Williams took the unusual step of trying to defend himself in his personal blog. This particular edition of The Daily Nightly aka The Daily Dully stands in sharp contrast to the usual banal Happy Face platitudes expressed on his blog. Here is Brian Williams defending his interview with President Bush:
We'll run another new (to our audience) portion of our conversation with the President on tonight's broadcast. I returned from New Orleans to find thousands of emails (I often ask that they be printed out so that I can take them home, travel with them and go through them quickly, while sticking to my vow to read them all) neatly divided into two main categories: our Katrina coverage (overwhelmingly positive) and our interview with President Bush.
On the latter topic, I was taken aback somewhat by what seems to be the prevailing (70/30) opinion -- apparently echoed today by Rush Limbaugh -- that I was somehow "disrespectful" in the interview.
Several things here: While I don't know the President outside of the parameters my job, he has always shown me great kindness, we've always gotten on well, and when we parted company yesterday, he was of good cheer and seemed satisfied with our time together (and notably was in NO hurry to end the interview) as were members of the White House staff. My job, remember, is to report...ask questions...and serve as advocate for our viewers who don't get the chance to ask questions of the President themselves. Any charge of "disrespect" deservedly gets my attention, because of my profound respect for the office and its occupants. In fact, one of the topics of conversation any time I'm with the President is our shared interest in Presidential history -- which we discussed during some private time yesterday. I note that one viewer has written complaining of "unprofessionalism" in my "tone of questioning and facial expressions."
Perhaps some background will help. What we aired yesterday, and will again tonight, was a rather spontaneous, strolling interview in the hot afternoon sun in New Orleans. It was to have been taped an hour later, but the President was understandably anxious to greet the people who'd been waiting for him and Mrs. Bush in the heat -- so we gladly obliged, and things got underway very suddenly. He is, as has been widely reported in this space and elsewhere, a man who truly seems to enjoy the give-and-take and verbal "combat" that often comes with good conversation. He indicated to me more than once yesterday that he was anxious to have a robust discussion. Perhaps because the backdrop and circumstances of yesterday's interview differed so much from the norm -- the conventional presidential interview we've become used to seeing -- people saw something different that struck them as negative in some way. Asking tough questions is one thing, but I am constitutionally unable to be disrespectful around the President of the United States.
Unfortunately for Brian Williams, the postings left on his blog contradicts his protestations of professionalism. Strange that almost all the liberal posters loved that interview because they disliked Bush and most of the conservative posters were of the opposite viewpoint. In fact, it now appears that Williams' "professional" interview has made him a hero of the loony left over at the Democratic Underground. To see many of the postings left on Williams' blog as well as on the Democratic Underground, check out the DUmmie FUnnies.