NBC Uses Bush Photo to Distract From Obama's 'Latte Salute' Gaffe

Running defense for Barack Obama on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer touted "some of the President's defenders" pushing back against a video of the commander-in-chief sloppily saluting Marines while holding a coffee cup by "circulating this photo of George W. Bush during his presidency...saluting service members while holding his dog, Barney." [Listen to the audio]

Lauer noted that despite Obama gaffe going viral on social media and "sarcastically being called the 'latte salute,'" it "didn't take long for that photo [of Bush] to come out as well."

The hosts of Today's 9 a.m. ET hour revisited the subject, with Tamron Hall declaring: "President George W. Bush saluted as well in a way that was seen as controversial. He was holding Barney, the dog, there." She observed: "So you have people who don't care for President Obama who say, 'This is so disrespectful!' The supporters of Obama then show the picture of Bush. And then it goes back and forth."

News anchor Natalie Morales chimed in to defend Obama: "He's got a lot – he's got ISIS to deal with, a lot on his mind. So, I – you know, there's a lot more – bigger concerns in the world and we're focusing on a cup of coffee."

Rather then just cover the incident as a gaffe for Obama, the NBC morning show sought to muddy the waters by seizing on a photo of Bush put out by liberal spin doctors and dismiss the whole thing as just another "back and forth" between political partisans.



Here is a transcript of the September 24 coverage on Today:

8:13 AM ET

MATT LAUER: It's 8:12 and that makes it time for What's Trending Today. And why don't we start on a Wednesday morning with what is sarcastically being called the "latte salute." The White House posted this video on Instagram on Tuesday. It shows President Obama stepping off Marine One here in New York, saluting marines with a coffee cup in his hand. Some are now calling this disrespectful. They're offended by it.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Brewing Controversy; President's "Coffee Cup" Salute Draws Criticism]

But politics being politics, some of the President's defenders are circulating this photo of George W. Bush during his presidency, he is saluting service members while holding his dog, Barney. That didn't take long for that photo to come out as well.

HODA KOTB: No. He probably could have waited to get another hot cup at a Starbucks on the way.

NATALIE MORALES: Yeah, handed off the latte to – he's got lots of people in the plane.

CARSON DALY: And the White House put that out, that's a little surprising.

ROKER: See, the big problem – I would have just like [pretends to swig back coffee and spill it].  
MORALES: Not that coordinated.


9:05 AM ET

AL ROKER: How about that cup – the coffee cup salute?

TAMRON HALL: Oh, yeah, this is another thing that's got social media in a buzz. So here's the picture, it is the President saluting Marines – take a look at it – while holding a cup of coffee after stepping off Marine One yesterday. Now this sparked criticism online.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Brewing Controversy; President's "Coffee Cup" Salute Draws Criticism]

It has become a tradition for presidents to salute military officers as they pass since Ronald Reagan, 1981. But, there's no official protocol. President George W. Bush saluted as well in a way that was seen as controversial. He was holding Barney, the dog, there.

So it's interesting as well, because you have folks asking, was it disrespectful? But as always, they intertwine politics in this.

NATALIE MORALES: Yeah.

HALL: So you have people who don't care for President Obama who say, "This is so disrespectful!" The supporters of Obama then show the picture of Bush. And then it goes back and forth. But it's not protocol.

NATALIE MORALES: He's got a lot – he's got ISIS to deal with, a lot on his mind. So, I – you know, there's a lot more – bigger concerns in the world and we're focusing on a cup of coffee.

I mean, could he have handed off the coffee to his many people who help him? Yes. But, you know, I do think, you know, there is a precedent that's been started since Ronald Reagan. And I do think it's, you know, it's a rightful thing to do, to honor the military.

ROKER: It must – probably was a moment of-

MORALES: A lapse. Just a lapse.

ROKER: He's – like you said, he's got a few things on his mind.

HALL: It's a sign of respect.

ROKER: And was it really coffee? It could have been a chai latte. I mean-

WILLIE GEIST: That's even worse. That's even worse.

HALL: I love how they call it the latte salute. I'm like, you don't know what was in the cup.

But yeah, I do think it certainly would be respectful if that's the tradition. It's not protocol, but it is – I could see how people get into a ruffle about it.  

MORALES: He's a civilian, so he doesn't have to, but he's the commander-in-chief.

ROKER: But still, he's the commander-in-chief.

MORALES: Absolutely.

HALL: And once you do it once, you keep doing it and you do it with respect.

ROKER: Yeah, or you keep your coffee cup in your hand the whole time.

HALL: Or you keep your dog on a leash. Put your dog on the leash.

ROKER: Put your dog in a coffee cup.

MORALES: Put the dog on the ground.

HALL: The dog can guard the coffee and they both walk out and salute.

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