ABC, NBC Gloat About Lack of Applause for Trump; Pelosi ‘Is Very Much in Charge’

As President Trump entered the House chamber on Tuesday night for the 2019 State of the Union, ABC and NBC were more than a little giddy at the notion that Democrats didn’t line the aisle to greet the President and even refused to applaud the President as he made his way to the podium in front of Vice President Pence and Speaker Pelosi.

So-called neutral “referee” and Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd hyped, minutes into NBC’s coverage, that we’ve “already seen a big protocol change to understand how polarized we are” as he couldn’t spot any Democrat “ready to back slap the President or get a selfie.”

 

 

Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt then picked up on the lack of applause, touting how Democrats will be looking to “make his life...much more difficult” (click “expand”):

[W]e saw several Republican members of the House, the top supporters of President Trump, whooping out loud and shaking their fists as the President walked in the door. Some of them had waited for literally hours. Now, you can hear the Republican side of the chamber cheering for this President. If you can see the Democratic side, though, those women in white, the vast majority of them seem to have their hands at their sides and I think that tells you a lot about the state of our politics. The White House has talked a lot today about how the speech was going to be oriented toward comity and unity and pulling things together, but the reality is that that is a very, very difficult bridge to cross for this president right now. Given the events of the last few weeks that are still, you know, very raw for a lot of these members of congress who were dealing with a government shutdown, but also, of course, in the last two years and don't forget, of course, he is looking out at people who are about to potentially make his life and the Mueller investigation much more difficult for him.

NBC led into the coverage with exclusively negative language about the President from NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt and Today co-host Savannah Guthrie.

Here’s their intro (click “expand”):

HOLT: Tonight, President Trump and the State of the Union. A speech delayed by the longest government shutdown in American history and under the shadow of another possible shutdown over the President's demand for a border wall. 

GUTHRIE: An extraordinary moment for our country, an ongoing investigation, a growing list of former aides indicted, and a defiant President. Newly empowered Democrats mounting a challenge in Congress, and looking ahead to the next election in 2020 and the State of the Union address, itself, becomes a stage for America's deep political divide.

MSNBC host and NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell was also on hand, ready and eager to play her usual role of liberal partisan, basking in the supposed brilliance of Pelosi and the lack thereof on the part of the President:

He loves this stage. He is a performer. He wanted this moment, but this is her House. He did not fully understand that. That the rules of the game are that she has to invite him and there has to be a joint resolution which she controls and it was interesting to watch her signal the sergeant at arms to say, “Madame Speaker, the president of the United States.” She is very much in charge. 

Things weren’t better on ABC. As they’ve done during presidential election conventions and other special events, ABC had a movie trailer-like open and, once again, it was worth a few eye rolls (click “expand”):

ANNOUNCER: This is an ABC News Special. 

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government. 

ANNOUNCER: But the clock is ticking to another shutdown. 

TRUMP: I expect that both Democrats and Republicans will operate in good faith.

ANNOUNCER: The country and the Congress have never been more divided. 

TRUMP: This is an opportunity for all parties to work together for the benefit of our whole beautiful, wonderful nation. 

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, the speech that almost didn't happen. 

TRUMP: We're building the wall. It's getting built one way or the other. 

ANNOUNCER: Live from the nation's capital, the State of the Union address and the Democratic response. Now reporting, George Stephanopoulos. 

Chief anchor and former Clinton official George Stephanopoulos gloated that the government shutdown caused his poll numbers to plummet: 

That delayed this speech tonight by a week and it's driven the President's approval rating down to 37 percent in our latest poll. The lowest ever for a president two years in. So, despite a strong economy that continues to produce jobs at a solid clip, the President does have his work cut out for him tonight, facing a divided Congress and a divided country.

Anti-GOP correspondent Mary Bruce replied before the speech that “[a]ny calls from the President for unity here tonight are going to be a very tough sell, because you see the President here coming face-to-face with the new power dynamic here in Washington.”

She added upon that point with praise for Pelosi (click “expand”):

[T]here is no question that Nancy Pelosi over these last several weeks has proven herself to be a very formidable opponent for the President, despite these bitter political battles. She’s shown she knows how to work the system. She knows how to best the President. I mean, just think about the fact that this speech wasn't even supposed to be happening tonight, it was supposed to happen a week ago. But the President then gave into Nancy Pelosi’s request to postpone the speech because of the shutdown fight and there is no question that the President and this Congress are off to a very rough start. He’s going to try to smooth things over here tonight but it is a big question that they're going to be able to make any headway or move the needle here at all, George.

Finally, chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl followed NBC in noting the lack of applause: “And by the way, it was notable watching inside the chamber how almost — all of the Democrats, the majority of Democrats, would not applaud, as the President came in the chamber. That is just something you do not see in a State of the Union address.”

To see the relevant transcript from NBC’s State of the Union coverage on February 5, click “expand.”

NBC State of the Union
February 5, 2019
9:00 p.m. Eastern

LESTER HOLT: Tonight, President Trump and the State of the Union. A speech delayed by the longest government shutdown in American history and under the shadow of another possible shutdown over the President's demand for a border wall. 

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: An extraordinary moment for our country, an ongoing investigation, a growing list of former aides indicted, and a defiant President. Newly empowered Democrats mounting a challenge in Congress, and looking ahead to the next election in 2020 and the State of the Union address, itself, becomes a stage for America's deep political divide.

(....)

9:01 p.m. Eastern

HOLT:  It will be a moment of high drama and more than a little political theater. 

GUTHRIE: It always is. The President and a divided congress face-to-face for the first time. Each side bringing special guests tonight to make political points. Lot of Democratic women tonight are wearing white, all in solidarity, including, of course, the Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who is on the Rostrem with this President for the first time tonight. 

(....)

9:04 p.m. Eastern

GUTHRIE: This is a moment that this President really relishes. 

ANDREA MITCHELL: He loves this stage. He is a performer. He wanted this moment, but this is her House. He did not fully understand that. That the rules of the game are that she has to invite him and there has to be a joint resolution which she controls and it was interesting to watch her signal the sergeant at arms to say, “Madame Speaker, the president of the United States.” She is very much in charge. 

CHUCK TODD: I've already seen a big protocol change to understand how polarized we are, I'm looking for a Democratic member of Congress that was hanging out by the aisle, ready to back slap the president or get a selfie. I didn't see many. In years past, it didn't matter who president it was, what party, everybody wanted in on that photo shot. No Democratic —

HOLT: An early —

TODD: No Democratic member.

MITCHELL: It was always Congressman Engel. 

TODD: Eliot Engel was always the big one and none of them. It was all Republicans

GUTHRIE: There's one of them right there, the newest Justice Brett Kavanaugh having his hand shook by the President. Now moves over to the joint chiefs and our members of the military. The President making the rounds in the room. 

HOLT: Let's go to Kasie Hunt. Kasie is on the floor there. We won't be able to see her, so we're going to play a little radio. Kasie, give us a sense of what it's like, what are you seeing? 

KASIE HUNT: Well, Lester, we saw several Republican members of the House, the top supporters of President Trump, whooping out loud and shaking their fists as the President walked in the door. Some of them had waited for literally hours. Now, you can hear the Republican side of the chamber cheering for this President. If you can see the Democratic side, though, those women in white, the vast majority of them seem to have their hands at their sides and I think that tells you a lot about the state of our politics. The White House has talked a lot today about how the speech was going to be oriented toward comity and unity and pulling things together, but the reality is that that is a very, very difficult bridge to cross for this president right now. Given the events of the last few weeks that are still, you know, very raw for a lot of these members of congress who were dealing with a government shutdown, but also, of course, in the last two years and don't forget, of course, he is looking out at people who are about to potentially make his life and the Mueller investigation much more difficult for him.

To see the relevant transcript from ABC’s State of the Union coverage on February 5, click “expand.”

ABC State of the Union
February 5, 2019
9:00 p.m. Eastern

ANNOUNCER: This is an ABC News Special. 

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have reached a deal to end the shutdown and reopen the federal government. 

ANNOUNCER: But the clock is ticking to another shutdown. 

TRUMP: I expect that both Democrats and Republicans will operate in good faith.

ANNOUNCER: The country and the Congress have never been more divided. 

TRUMP: This is an opportunity for all parties to work together for the benefit of our whole beautiful, wonderful nation. 

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, the speech that almost didn't happen. 

TRUMP: We're building the wall. It's getting built one way or the other. 

ANNOUNCER: Live from the nation's capital, the State of the Union address and the Democratic response. Now reporting, George Stephanopoulos. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good evening, and welcome to our special coverage of President Trump's State of the Union. At the halfway mark of his term, this will be the third time the President has appeared in the House chamber, but what a difference one year and one election can make. For the first time, a Democratic Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, will be sitting over the President's shoulder. She is now the most powerful woman in America, leading a new House packed with more women and minor tips than ever before as we're looking there at the First Lady, Melania Trump, and the President's cabinet, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. They are sitting in the chamber with the first new Congress to be sworn in during a government shutdown, the longest our history. That delayed this speech tonight by a week and it's driven the President's approval rating down to 37 percent in our latest poll. The lowest ever for a president two years in. So, despite a strong economy that continues to produce jobs at a solid clip, the President does have his work cut out for him tonight, facing a divided Congress and a divided country.

(....)

9:03 p.m. Eastern

MARY BRUCE: Any calls from the President for unity here tonight are going to be a very tough sell, because you see the President here coming face-to-face with the new power dynamic here in Washington. The power struggle between the President and Nancy Pelosi will be on full display tonight as she sits there over his shoulder throughout this entire speech and look, while they do in many ways have a friendly, cordial relationship, there is no question that Nancy Pelosi over these last several weeks has proven herself to be a very formidable opponent for the President, despite these bitter political battles. She’s shown she knows how to work the system. She knows how to best the President. I mean, just think about the fact that this speech wasn't even supposed to be happening tonight, it was supposed to happen a week ago. But the President then gave into Nancy Pelosi’s request to postpone the speech because of the shutdown fight and there is no question that the President and this Congress are off to a very rough start. He’s going to try to smooth things over here tonight but it is a big question that they're going to be able to make any headway or move the needle here at all, George.

(....)

9:05 p.m. Eastern

JONATHAN KARL: And by the way, it was notable watching inside the chamber how almost — all of the Democrats, the majority of Democrats, would not applaud, as the President came in the chamber. That is just something you do not see in a State of the Union address. But, George, I'm told the President's theme here is unity, reaching out to Democrats, and yet, today, there has been a debate all day in the West Wing about whether or not the President would congratulate Nancy Pelosi on becoming Speaker at the top of his speech. I was told there were versions of the speech today that had congratulations in there and a version that did not have the congratulations in there. So, for one key is how far this message of unity will go, listen, right now, to whether or not the President will congratulation Nancy Pelosi. 

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Congress State of the Union Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats ABC NBC Mary Bruce Lester Holt Savannah Guthrie Chuck Todd Andrea Mitchell Jonathan Karl George Stephanopoulos Kasie Hunt Donald Trump Nancy Pelosi
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