On Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams made an observation about the United Nations General Assembly meeting one normally does not expect to hear from the mainstream media, as he remarked that the gathering at one point looked like the "bar scene in Star Wars." After a report by Andrea Mitchell which focused on the "bizarre speech" by Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi, and which also mentioned the presence of "international pariahs" like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez, Williams commented on the "circus atmosphere" as he introduced NBC News political director Chuck Todd. Williams:
We’ve seen this kind of a circus atmosphere here inside the U.N. ... And, Chuck, for a while, it did look like the bar scene in Star Wars, except that the stakes are so high.
Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh has famously made such a comparison on his show over the years. Below is a complete transcript of the relevant portion of the Wednesday, September 23, NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Good evening. President Obama wanted to sound different today and he did. No U.S. President has given quite the speech he did today before the U.N. General Assembly here in New York. It can also be said that no one has looked out on an audience quite so unusual. It is where we begin here tonight with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell across town at the U.N. tonight. Andrea, good evening.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Good evening, Brian. It was the President's first speech to the United Nations, and it marked a very stark departure from the policies of George W. Bush, as the President called for a new era of engagement with the rest of the world, reaching out to new friends and old foes. President Obama was welcomed to the world stage, along with a rogues gallery of longtime international pariahs – Libya's Muammar Gadhafi, for the first time in forty years; Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. President Obama's message was that the U.S. is no longer going it alone, but his challenge to critics was blunt.
BARACK OBAMA: Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone.
MITCHELL: Ahmadinejad made a show of looking bored, but the President was cheered for his decision to close Guantanamo and stop abusive interrogations.
OBAMA: I prohibited, without exception or equivocation, the use of torture by the United States of America.
MITCHELL: He showed his impatience with endless foot-dragging by both sides in the Middle East, and warned North Korea and Iran against escalating the nuclear arms race.
OBAMA: - and they must be held accountable.
MITCHELL: Mr. Obama and his team then made a quick exit, moving on to a series of events, steering clear of the next speaker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE: His excellency, Muammar Gadhafi, leader of the revolution, president of the African Union, king of kings of the traditional kings of Africa.
MITCHELL: He raged on for 95 minutes, a diatribe against the U.N. from a jumble of handwritten notes, waving a copy of the U.N. Charter, then pretending to rip it up.
MUAMMAR GADHAFI, THROUGH TRANSLATOR: It should not be called the "Security Council"; it should be the "Terrorism Council."
MITCHELL: He only had praise for Obama, whom he called "our son."
GADHAFI, THROUGH TRANSLATOR: We are happy if Obama can stay forever as President of America.
MITCHELL: He made no mention of the Libyan bombing of Pan AM 103 over Lockerbie, but launched a bizarre harangue about the assassination of President Kennedy-
GADHAFI, THROUGH TRANSLATOR: We want to know who killed him. Somebody by the name of Lee Harvey, and then another, Jack Ruby, killed Lee Harvey. Why did he kill him?
MITCHELL: -mystifying the U.N. and the White House.
ROBERT GIBBS: If I were to try to begin to explain the actions of Mr. Gadhafi, I might be busy for the better part of the remainder of the afternoon.
MITCHELL: Tonight, Iran's president is addressing the United Nations, but the President was already safely across town hosting a reception for U.N. delegates. But he did vow today to continue negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue, and he picked up the possibility of important support for the first time from Russia to consider sanctioning Iran if Iran does not comply. Brian?
WILLIAMS: Andrea Mitchell, across town at the U.N. starting us off tonight. Andrea, thanks. We’ve seen this kind of a circus atmosphere here inside the U.N., but the fact is, the stakes are high. Our chief White House correspondent, political director, Chuck Todd here in New York while the President’s in New York to brief us on more about that. And, Chuck, for a while, it did look like the bar scene in Star Wars, except that the stakes are so high. And while the President spoke, you know, he's got other issues simmering. Take them one at a time – Afghanistan and health care.