On Tuesday night, NBC threw what could be described as a hissy fit following President Trump’s first State of the Union address by attacking it as a “subdued” and “tired” President and speech that will keep “the fact checkers...busy” but didn’t address Russia or gun control.
Today co-host Savannah Guthrie praised it as “bright,” “conciliatory,” and “optimistic,” but Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd felt betrayed that he had been “oversold” at an off-the-record lunch earlier in the day about how much the President would “outreach” to Democrats.
Todd complained that Trump “didn't lead with a conciliatory tone on immigration,” Gitmo, or infrastructure but instead he “spoke more to his base than I expected him to” by “paint[ing] the picture of the — this mythical immigrant criminal here that I want everybody to get fired up about.”
When he added that “the speech dragged,” Lester Holt interjected that “some may read this as tired” or “measured,” but it was nonetheless “a slower speech.”
Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly conceded that Trump “did a fine job,” but put in the caveat that “he's going to tweet something and we'll forget all about it.” That being said, she condemned him as “subdued” and “reserved.”
MSNBC host and NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell went to work for the Resistance, observing that “the fact checkers are really going to be busy” because it was a speech filled with “exaggeration” and “a lot of hyperbole.”
As for what ailed former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, he was upset the President didn’t mention gun control because it’s “a national crisis in this country” and “we've got to do something.”
Todd and Mitchell were also disappointed with an absence of Russia from the speech because, in Mitchell’s words, the Russians have already disrupted the midterm elections.
Wrapping up their coverage, Mitchell let the cat out of the bag that the liberal media will have moved on from the speech by tomorrow to Russia “because that is still the shadow overhanging this entire administration.”
She also hilarious ruled that discussing Russia isn’t a knock against the President’s legitimacy and that “[n]o one is questioning that he is President of the United States.”
In contrast to the lunacy from ABC and NBC, CBS was able to handle the post-State of the Union coverage with a level of composure and soberness.
CBS This Morning co-host Norah O’Donnell immediately credited Trump for fulfilling White House previews that the speech would be “an opportunity to try and move beyond his political base” by “present[ing] a unifying message.” She also praised Trump for having “talked about people other than himself” throughout the address.
Fellow co-host John Dickerson argued that while Trump “bend[ed] the truth a little bit” at times, the President “was also a cheerleader for the country and all those stories that he's told about patriotism, about the flag, about the national anthem, this is why people gravitated towards his campaign.”
White House correspondent Margaret Brennan gave Trump strong marks on how he went about North Korea in the address, choosing not to use the “fire and fury” line or engage in any other “belligerent way,” but instead “as a human rights issue” and one of our country’s values.
Here’s the relevant transcript from NBC’s State of the Union 2018 coverage on January 30:
NBC’s State of the Union 2018 coverage
January 30, 2018
10:31 p.m. Eastern
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, I thought in terms of tone, the President did what he said it was going to do. It was optimistic, it was bright, it was conciliatory. In terms of its substance, I don't know, when you look at some of the specifics on immigration, for example. I mean, he definitely led with the issues that come up with regard to crime, MS-13, it was heavy on that, he didn't get to the DREAMers until the end. But, I mean, the state of the Union, in terms of what he had to do, I think he did it. I mean, he set a tone and he was positive and he — he trumpeted the economy and I think that's exactly what he wanted to do.
LESTER HOLT: Chuck Todd.
CHUCK TODD: I thought he oversold what they told us today at that lunch. I expected a lot more actual outreach. It was a few things at the beginning, but then it was, you know — he didn't lead with a conciliatory tone on immigration. He didn't lead with a conciliatory tone on Gitmo. He didn't lead with a conciliatory tone even on some things like the infrastructure plan. It was — I felt like he spoke more to his base than I expected him to, particularly on immigration and that could be part of his sales pitch. Maybe he knows that amnesty for 1.8 million is something his base doesn't like, so he led with the, let me paint the picture of the — this mythical immigrant criminal here that I want everybody to get fired up about. I have to say, I felt like they forced too much applause, and the speech dragged. The President's problem is that's not the Donald Trump we see every day and so while he can sound presidential in a moment like this, because it's not what we're used to seeing, I don't know if it has the same effect they would like it to have.
HOLT: I think some — some may read this as tired. Some may read this as measured, but at whatever rate, it was —
HOLT: — a slower speech. Megyn Kelly, you — at the outset of the evening, you weren't expecting much.
MEGYN KELLY: No, and I think he did a fine job, but I think he's going to tweet something and we'll forget all about it. I mean, these things just don't tend to be particularly memorable. There wasn't anything in this one that stood out to me as an exception to that rule. I mean, he was subdued. His manner was interesting, he was subdued, he was almost reserved. It was long, it was very long, query I don't know how many people stayed up to watch this. The President has a habit of clapping for himself which was a little distracting and strange to listen to.
TODD: Especially if you have it in your ear.
KELLY: Yeah. Exactly.
TODD: We got the —
KELLY: But I thought it was a smart speech because he started with the personalized stories which were very effective, those personalized stories throughout the speech were very effective, and really made you feel something. The family in Long Island who lost their daughters with the dad crying, Ji Sung-Ho with the crutches at the end was an incredible moment and so he took some of his controversial stances and told them people through people that you could really relate to.
HOLT: There were some really emotional moments there.
KELLY: Right and that was very effective at that, but I completely agree with Chuck, this was a speech for the base.
HOLT: Alright. Andrea Mitchell, this is a President that's given to hyperbole often. You were taking a lot of notes. How did he do on that score?
ANDREA MITCHELL: Well, I — again, I think the personal stories were so affecting that that lifted the rhetoric and redeemed the speech, but the fact checkers are really going to be busy. When he talks about clean coal, when he brags about the tax cut, again, exaggerating the facts and not pointing out that the individual tax cuts expire, whereas the corporate tax cuts are permanent. And he talks about saving the auto industry, which really was saved under the Obama White House and we’ve known that companies — foreign companies are building factories here in America, that has gone back decades and decades. So there was a lot of exaggeration, a lot of hyperbole. Congress can't fix the Iran nuclear deal from his perspective, even, because it's not a congressional — it's not a treaty, it's not up to Congress to fix it. It's a multilateral agreement. There's a lot there for the fact checkers. Only 41 people detainees, by the way, are left in Guantanamo after 780 were there over the decade. That said, I think his rhetoric and his tone will appeal to a lot of people. But as Chuck said, the base.
HOLT: Let me bring in Tom Brokaw.
TOM BROKAW: Well, what I thought was this is the kind of speech that his supporters have longed to hear from him. I mean, they have, as I talk to them, they're always saying, we like the policies, can't he shut up? Will he just stop twittering because it's very hard to defend that? At the same time, there were a lot of conditional clauses in his offer about, for example, immigration. You're going to have to have a college degree and be able to solve the world's problems before you can get in here, but he did say I want to work with you on doing this. We'll see what happens in the next 24 hours or so. It's an issue with me, obviously we've got a real problem with some of these gangs that have come into America and killing people and murdering people and dealing drugs. We forget to say that they come here because there's an appetite for drugs in America, and we're not doing anything about that. The other thing is, there's been no mention from this administration, after the initial comments, about what happened in Las Vegas, about what happened in Texas. We had 11 school shootings in the last a couple of weeks. That's a national crisis in this country and I've said this before, I'm a gun owner, but we've got to do something about what's going on around the country, and they don't want to go there and I really do think that that is an enormous absence on the part of all Republicans, not just the President. A lot of Democrats as well.
TODD: By the way, there's one other notable missing topic here and that is the Russian aggression in our democracy.
TODD: We know why he doesn't say it, because it leads to the investigation. But no mention about Putin at all. No mention of Russian aggression when his own CIA Director is telling the BBC, yeah, we’re really worried about this in 2018.
MITCHELL: And that it’s still going on and it’s going to affect our midterms, but the President won't acknowledge it.
MITCHELL: I think the headlines tomorrow may well be about Russia, because that is still the shadow overhanging this entire administration.
HOLT: Mike Pompeo, the CIA Director, said only yesterday the Russians will interfere with the midterm elections.
MITCHELL: And are interfering already now —
HOLT: And it wasn’t just tonight.
MITCHELL: — online and it was not mentioned tonight. He will not address the Russian threat.
HOLT: Is it a reluctance to separate the two, the investigation versus reality?
MITCHELL: I think he believes that any criticism of Russia somehow emboldens those who want to undercut his legitimacy, even though it's completely separate and doesn't. No one is questioning that he is president of the United States.
KELLY: Just a word on the Democratic response. I think he got at the dichotomy of President Trump and one of the reasons why he is so controversial, because he has huge support in the Republican Party right now. 90 percent, 91 percent of those who voted for him support what he's doing, high 80s with the rest of the Republican Party and on paper he looks like, quote, a normal Republican in terms of his policies. It's his character. It's his — it's the way he treats people that is so controversial and he got to that in the feeling of no matter what your political believes are, this is not right, what we've been feeling in the country.