NBC: ‘Putin Has the Upper Hand’ with ‘Propaganda Victory’; We Rise Above His ‘Fake News’

In NBC’s Monday morning Special Report in the 9:00 a.m. Eastern hour on the Trump-Putin summit, the peacock network had already broken the panic button from hitting it too many times, blasting the President for praising the Russian-hosted World Cup, giving him “the upper hand,” sending out “such a damaging tweet” on the Mueller probe, and insinuated that he’s doing the bidding of Russia and the former Soviet Union by criticizing the news media.

NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt observed that, last week, Trump “left behind...a trail of disappointment and bewilderment among Europeans, capping it off with that parting shot yesterday that the E.U. is a foe,” so they will “be watching carefully to see if this president has cozied up — is treating — is treating Putin in a way he is not treating them any longer.”

 

 

White House correspondent Kristen Welker used the occasion to rehash her clash with the President at Friday’s press conference in Chequers, England and fretted that Trump would dare to praise Putin for having a successful World Cup. It’s not like he praised Putin for all the Soviet gulags, but it sure seemed like that’s what Trump did in the eyes of the press.

“Looking at — what everything we saw leading up to the moment with this handshake occurs, is it clear who has the upper hand here? Keeping in mind that Vladimir Putin would like to see some of the sanctions backed off,” Holt wondered next to chief foreign affairs correspondent and MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell.

Mitchell came loaded for bear, shredding Trump for giving Putin “the upper hand” for no reason other than “the optics of it.” Here’s Mitchell’s possible future Notable Quotable in all it’s glory [emphasis mine]:

It’s very clear to me that Vladimir Putin has the upper hand, just from the optics of it and the fact that the President went in praising him saying how important better relations were and no one would argue about that, but he had just on Twitter blamed the worsening relationship — he called it on the worst in years and blamed it on past stupidity by prior administrations and what he called the rigged witch hunt, in other words the Mueller probe. So, he has already handed Vladimir Putin a propaganda victory. That tweet — that’s such a damaging tweet and it was retweeted by Lavrov’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they wrote, “we agree” in retweeting it. So, they have now taken up President Trump's comments going into the summit and then he came in for that one-on-one meeting went more than two hours without note takers and no official record praising Putin, as Kristen said, for the success of the World Cup and also talking about how important it was to improve relations on a number of issues. Nuclear and the like, but never mentioning the Mueller investigation. 

Shifting gears to the upcoming joint press conference, Holt again brought up Friday’s contentious press conference in the U.K. He hilariously claimed that, speaking on behalf of NBC News, “we don't talk about the fake news stuff because it’s, you know, we rise above it.” Umm, hello? Lester, do Joy Reid and Brian Williams ring any bells for you? What about Dateline and exploding cars? Or just anything Chris Matthews says?

“However, he'll be standing next to a man who has been no friend of the media in his own country. I think we’re all going to be watching very carefully to see how he handles that issue, which is a fundamental freedom in our country,” Holt continued.

Mitchell replied with more fear and trepidation about Trump channeling Stalin by criticizing the press and clashing with Welker as if she were a victim we should feel sorry for:

And, in fact, the President tweeted that the news media are the enemy of the people which is a Joe Stalin phrase in one of his tweets this weekend coming into this summit. Kristen, of course, was at that important news conference in the U.K. at Chequers and what first hand what it feels to be a target of the President.

To see the relevant transcript from the July 16 NBC News Special Report in the 9:00 a.m. Eastern hour, click “expand.”

NBC News Special Report
July 16, 2018
9:33 a.m. Eastern

LESTER HOLT: And the question of what it at stake is a broad one since they came in with no agenda and Kristen, I will turn to you on this. Part of the impact is how this is seen from the Europeans. They have — the President left behind in this week a trail of disappointment and bewilderment among Europeans, capping it off with that parting shot yesterday that the E.U. is a foe. They’re going to be watching carefully to see if this president has cozied up — is treating — is treating Putin in a way he is not treating them any longer. 

KRISTEN WELKER: You’re absolutely right and, Lester, it was just stunning to be at the NATO summit with President Trump last week. He roiled allies, clashed with them at the NATO summit and then he went to the Britain to meet with the Prime Minister there, Theresa May, criticized her on her home turf. So, he went into this summit with that tone. Really sort of looking like he wasn't unified with some of America's closest allies. You mentioned that, during that interview, he referred to the E.U. as a foe. Well, the President of the European Council said anyone who refers to the E.U. as a foe is spreading fake new, so he’s already gotten a sharp rebuke. You had the prime minister of Great Brtain say, look, it’s critical that President trump is reunified with his allies going into this meeting. I asked the President during a press conference last week if he’s effectively giving Putin the upper hand. He lashed out of me. He said the mere inference of that is fake news in of itself, but bottom line. He never answered the question, Lester, so that is going to be critical heading into the summit and think about the optics for President Putin. He is coming off of a PR victory himself. He’s just finishing the World Cup. President Trump said it was one of the best world cups in history, really praising president Putin. There's a lot of concerns amongst allies and Democrats and Republicans on capitol hill that the president is looking to reorder some of these traditional alliances. 

HOLT: Let's bring in Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent. Looking at — what everything we saw leading up to the moment with this handshake occurs, is it clear who has the upper hand here? Keeping in mind that Vladimir Putin would like to see some of the sanctions backed off. 

ANDREA MITCHELL: It’s very clear to me that Vladimir Putin has the upper hand, just from the optics of it and the fact that the President went in praising him saying how important better relations were and no one would argue about that, but he had just on Twitter blamed the worsening relationship — he called it on the worst in years and blamed it on past stupidity by prior administrations and what he called the rigged witch hunt, in other words the Mueller probe. So, he has already handed Vladimir Putin a propaganda victory. That tweet — that’s such a damaging tweet and it was retweeted by Lavrov’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they wrote, “we agree” in retweeting it. So, they have now taken up president trump's comments going into the summit and then he came in for that one-on-one meeting went more than two hours without note takers and no official record praising Putin, as Kristen said, for the success of the World Cup and also talking about how important it was to improve relations on a number of issues. Nuclear and the like, but never mentioning the Mueller investigation. 

HOLT: The next big moment we expect to see is the news conference, which could be within the next couple of hours. The schedule’s all over the place right now, so I'm not going to commit to a time. But they will appear together. Given from what we heard from the President. We saw the news conference in England the other day. And keeping in mind, we don't talk about the fake news stuff 

WELKER: Right.

HOLT: — because it’s, you know, we rise above it. However, he'll be standing next to a man who has been no friend of the media in his own country. I think we’re all going to be watching very carefully to see how he handles that issue, which is a fundamental freedom in our country. 

MITCHELL: And, in fact, the President tweeted that the news media are the enemy of the people which is a Joe Stalin phrase in one of his tweets this weekend coming into this summit. Kristen, of course, was at that important news conference in the U.K. at Chequers and what first hand what it feels to be a target of the President. 


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