ABC and PBS Extol ‘Stern and Direct’ Obama Speech; ‘Struck’ by Pledge to ‘Destroy’ ISIS

While NBC’s Lester Holt was wondering before President Obama’s speech Sunday night if it would “be a defining moment for this presidency,” his counterparts on ABC and PBS picked up where he left off afterward by enthusiastically praising how “struck” they were by “a stern and direct” Obama “laying out" what Obama called "a strong and smart strategy” to deal with terrorism

ABC News chief anchor (and former Clinton staffer plus Clinton Foundation donor) George Stephanopoulos immediately gushed as soon as the President concluded how he was so “stern and direct” by “laying out what he called a strong and smart strategy to deal with the terrorist threat that has evolved here in the United States.”

Turning to chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, Stephanopoulos continued fawning over how Obama used “very direct language” in “talk[ing] about this active terror war with ISIL” plus offering “a direct challenge to Congress to pick up on many items that have been stalled there.”

Karl poured cold water on the idea that any of the President’s initiatives could be realistically successful in Congress, but took time to hype what he deemed “the most interesting line” that was “a direct message to those...vilifying Muslims”:

But I must say, the most interesting line at the end, when he said Muslim-Americans are our friends, they are our neighbors. They are our sports heroes, and yes, the men and women that serve in our military. That a direct message to those that have been vilifying Muslims. 

Meanwhile, the story was quite similar on PBS as NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff paused before expressing how “struck” she was by the President telling the American people that “we will destroy the Islamic State” and that “we will prevail by being strong and smart.”

Referring to his ending remarks about Muslim-Americans, fellow liberal NewsHour co-anchor Gwen Ifill injected the latest dose of the liberal media’s sudden respect for former President George W. Bush (see examples here, here, and here):

GWEN IFILL: Sounded a lot more than George W. Bush than like the presidential candidates running right now. 

WOODRUFF: Exactly.

In contrast, there was at least one member of the liberal media that was able to break through and point out how there was really nothing new of substance. Moments after the President finished his speech, CBS’s Scott Pelley observed that while the President may have tried to place “a symbol of how much importance he placed on this address”

The address, however, was mostly a restatement of the President's strategy against ISIS or ISIL as he calls it, the terrorist army that now occupies much of Syria and Iraq, a restatement of his policies that were in existence before San Bernardino four days ago and before Paris earlier this month or I should say last month.

The relevant portion of the transcript from ABC’s coverage of President Obama’s speech on December 6 can be found below.

ABC Presidential Speech
December 6, 2015
8:14 p.m. Eastern

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: A stern and direct President Obama, laying out what he called a strong and smart strategy to deal with the terrorist threat that has evolved here in the United States, acts which resembled the mass shootings we’ve seen in this country. He talked about war with ISIS, but also warned against a war with Islam and reached out to Muslim-Americans, saying we cannot turn against each other, especially those Muslim-Americans who fight and die for their country. I want to bring Jon Karl back in as well, and Jon, as the President talked about this active terror war with ISIL, very direct language there. Also, a direct challenge to Congress to pick up on many items that have been stalled there. 

KARL: Yeah, he wants more gun control legislation passed, something he has called for in the past, doesn’t have any better chance of passing now. He also wants an authorization for the use of force that we are doing right now in Iraq and Syria. That faces an uphill battle in Congress, but on the third item, he wants Congress to improve the screening of people that can come into the United States without visas. Congress is acting and working with the White House on that. But I must say, the most interesting line at the end, when he said Muslim-Americans are our friends, they are our neighbors. They are our sports heroes, and yes, the men and women that serve in our military. That a direct message to those that have been vilifying Muslims. 

The relevant portion of the transcript from PBS’s coverage of President Obama’s speech on December 6 can be found below.

PBS Presidential Speech
December 6, 2015
8:15 p.m. Eastern

JUDY WOODRUFF: I was struck when the President said we will destroy the Islamic State. He said we will prevail by being strong and smart. He talked, as you suggested, about taking the fight to where they are in Syria and Iraq, but he also talked about steps the United States needs to take to keep individuals in this country from becoming radicalized and I think notably there at the end he called on the Muslim-American community to, on its own, look for radicals in its midst, but as you heard him say at the end, Muslim Americans are our friends and neighbors. They are not people for us to fear. 

GWEN IFILL: Sounded a lot more than George W. Bush than like the presidential candidates running right now. 

WOODRUFF: Exactly.

NB Daily Foreign Policy Guns War on Terrorism Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Religion Islam ABC PBS Obama Watch Video Government & Press President Obama President Barack Obama George Stephanopoulos Jonathan Karl Judy Woodruff Gwen Ifill Barack Obama
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