Chuck Todd 'Proud' of How NBC Handled Brian Williams Scandal

Talking to former CBS political analyst Jeff Greenfield at an event for 92Y in New York, NBC's Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd praised his network's handling of the Brian Williams scandal: "Look, I am proud of my news organization, that it proved that nobody's bigger, nobody is above integrity and credibility. Period."

That declaration was prompted by Greenfield taking a shot at how Fox News handled similar allegations against host Bill O'Reilly: "You know, it's clear to me that when the Bill O'Reilly thing popped, Fox did run a political campaign. All they said is 'We're being attacked by far-left smear artists.'" Todd sniffed: "They treated it like a campaign, we treated it like a news organization."

Earlier in the exchange, Greenfield wondered if the Williams controversy had impacted Todd's reporting:

In the last several months, you have found your organization on the receiving end. My question is – was inspired by Matt Dowd, the former Bush operative turned ABC commentator, who wondered in a Tweet whether or not this experience was going to make journalists a little more sympathetic to the people they cover....So here's a case where I am sure you were getting bombarded with phone calls when the Brian Williams story broke, uncomfortable position to say the least. But did it, either among you or your colleagues at NBC News, have any impact on, "You know, having gone through this, maybe when the next time we go out to do a story, we need to keep this experience in mind"?

Todd responded by dismissing the criticism of NBC:

Well, look, I think my frustration with this sort of media saturation right now is that – is that I think even though we are the largest – we are the largest news organization. The reason we're a story is we're the largest news organization. We're still the largest aircraft carrier, NBC is, right? When you think about MSNBC and CNBC, obviously we're the largest aircraft carrier in the ocean. It's not as big as it once was, but none of the other ones, they're all – the other ones are little gun ships compared what we are. And so we're going to take more incoming, we're going to get more attention, that's just the nature of being at the largest – the largest remaining legacy news organization, broadcast news organization. So you have to sort of accept that.

He then blamed others for creating the culture of the media "feeding frenzy":

I can't make BuzzFeed and Gawker and the – what the Rupert [Murdoch] empire decides to do when they've – you know, they've got a news organization, they've designed it as a political campaign. You know, that's a campaign operation that takes place sometimes where they're coming – they're just trying to win votes/viewers and they go negative on their opponents, you know, in very similar ways. So I think feeding frenzies are terrible. There's only so much we can do on a feeding frenzy.

On the Williams scandal, NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen argued on Monday: "There is no plausible way NBC News can restore Brian Williams to the job of anchoring the nightly news and serving as 'face of the brand.' I'm not saying it won't happen, only that NBC would be insane to do it." (h/t TVNewser)

Here is a transcript of Greenfield's March 16 exchange with Todd about Williams:

(...)

JEFF GREENFIELD: In the last several months, you have found you're organization on the receiving end. My question is – was inspired by Matt Dowd, the former Bush operative turned ABC commentator, who wondered in a Tweet whether or not this experience was going to make journalists a little more sympathetic to the people they cover. You raised that with the Hillary-

CHUCK TODD: A feeding frenzy.

GREENFIELD: So here's a case where I am sure you were getting bombarded with phone calls when the Brian Williams story broke, uncomfortable position to say the least. But did it, either among you or your colleagues at NBC News, have any impact on, "You know, having gone through this, maybe when the next time we go out to do a story, we need to keep this experience in mind"?

TODD: Well, look, I think my frustration with this sort of media saturation right now is that – is that I think even though we are the largest – we are the largest news organization. The reason we're a story is we're the largest news organization. We're still the largest aircraft carrier, NBC is, right? When you think about MSNBC and CNBC, obviously we're the largest aircraft carrier in the ocean. It's not as big as it once was, but none of the other ones, they're all – the other ones are little gun ships compared what we are. And so we're going to take more incoming, we're going to get more attention, that's just the nature of being at the largest – the largest remaining legacy news organization, broadcast news organization. So you have to sort of accept that.

Look, I think the feeding – I can't make BuzzFeed and Gawker and the – what the Rupert [Murdoch] empire decides to do when they've – you know, they've got a news organization, they've designed it as a political campaign. You know, that's a campaign operation that takes place sometimes where they're coming – they're just trying to win votes/viewers and they go negative on their opponents, you know, in very similar ways.

So I think feeding frenzies are terrible. There's only so much we can do on a feeding frenzy. There's only so much – we can pull back and watch everybody else – you know, we don't have the power anymore to say, "Boy, that's not a story," or, "We should sort of back of this story a little bit," and fifteen other media organizations going, "Yeah, those folks at NBC are right. You know, we're going to follow they're lead." That doesn't happen anymore.

GREENFIELD: Look-

TODD: So I think that I am – I don't disagree – I saw that Matt Dowd tweet – I don't disagree with it. One of the things that I learned over the last fifteen years now, and especially in the last five in the world of social media, is I am more empathetic to politicians. I feel like we're treated like – in a weird way, the media personalities on television get treated like politicians now, right? We get, you know, bombarded with, you know, angry e-mail. You know, if I wanted to take it this way, I probably could – you know, somebody is, you know, phony threatening me every hour somewhere on Twitter, if I wanted to internalize it.

GREENFIELD: By the way, I have to correct myself, what I quoted you – that was 2012, not 2008.

TODD: Okay, alright.

GREENFIELD: I just wanted to-

TODD: Fair enough.

GREENFIELD: But the – it raises a different question, but it's aligned to what we're talking about. Not the Brian Williams thing – I'm not – there's no point, you know – there's no point. It is – you know, I was anchor of CNN when we did Tailwind the non-existent sarin gas story that Aaron Sorkin used in Newsroom.

You know, it's clear to me that when the Bill O'Reilly thing popped, Fox did run a political campaign. All they said is "We're being attacked by far-left smear artists." You know-

TODD: They treated it like a campaign, we treated it like a news organization.

GREENFIELD: That's what I mean.

TODD: Look, I am proud of my news organization, that it proved that nobody's bigger, nobody is above integrity and credibility. Period.

(...)

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