NBC’s Brian Williams Blames Rep. Joe Wilson’s ‘You Lie’ Comment for Decline in SOTU Decorum

During NBC’s coverage of President Obama’s seventh State of the Union speech, anchor Brian Williams remarked how there’s been “change in tone and tenor and ambiance” inside the House chamber from over the past few years and chose to link it to Republican Congressman Joe Wilson (S.C.) telling the President “you lie” during a 2009 speech before a joint session of Congress.

After saying how “some now believe the State of the Union is an opportunity for call and response,” Williams suggested an origin for the change in mood at this annual event: “It may have started this – this era may have started with the 'you lie' comment that was yelled at this President.”

Williams then concluded with more observations about the mood changes surrounding the State of the Union speech from inside the U.S. Capitol: 

[J]ust the general din, the chatter, people making comments, the laughter that followed the applause after he – he said he was not running for office anymore, his line designed to answer back, I don't know, in – the windup of the speech, looking at the wording, was intended to be a call to our better selves, a call to a better era from a system thoroughly broken.

The relevant portion of the transcript from NBC’s State of the Union 2015 coverage is provided below.

NBC’s State of the Union 2015 coverage
January 20, 2015
10:12 p.m. Eastern

BRIAN WILLIAMS: And speaking of the latter, comedy, something that ought to be said, especially for our viewers who have watched many of these over the years, there's just been a change in tone and tenor and ambiance in the room as if some now believe the State of the Union is an opportunity for call and response. It may have started this – this era may have started with the “you lie” comment that was yelled at this President, but just the general din, the chatter, people making comments, the laughter that followed the applause after he – he said he was not running for office anymore, his line designed to answer back, I don't know, in – the windup of the speech, looking at the wording, was intended to be a call to our better selves, a call to a better era from a system thoroughly broken.

State of the Union Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats NBC President Barack Obama President Obama Brian Williams Barack Obama Joe Wilson
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