NBC Bashes Trump Speech as Incoherent, But Cheers ‘Strong’ Abrams Who ‘Scolded’ Trump

Continuing their theme of bashing President Trump on Tuesday night, NBC News reacted to his State of the Union address with scorn by slamming it as incoherent “additive” when not talking about immigration but showing strong affection for Stacey Abrams’s Democratic response that the network deemed “strong” because it “scolded the President.”

Today co-host Savannah Guthrie and Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd led off the bash fest, tasking note of how the President alluded to the Russia probe in his speech. But Todd then launched into a partisan hot take about how, despite the President’s defenses of life and conclusion appealing to our better angels, it was supposedly incoherent when not tackling immigration.

 

 

Try and follow what not only Chuck said but what MSNBC host and NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell said afterward as a self-appointed fact-checker (click “expand”):

TODD: But, boy, this speech was, if there — the only coherent, like, moment, when I say coherent, meaning where there was a thematic push, you felt like they had a point to make, was on immigration and the standoff with Congress and everything else felt like it was all meant to be just additive to the basic point that he wanted to make about his wall and immigration. Like, that was the most well thought out part of the speech and well argued part of the speech. May not agree with it. Everything else felt like additive to just stay focused. 

HOLT: Let me bring in Andrea, what stood out to you? 

MITCHELL: On that point, the walls make us safe line, reinforced that he wants that wall. He says he wants to compromise. There are only ten days left but he was standing by the wall. He didn't revert to what he said earlier in a tweet today which is that people can be walls, so he wasn't offering any semantic cover story there. On foreign policy, he misstates the situation on Iran, again, in contrast to what his own intelligence officials said to Congress to this very congress just days ago, misstates what the reality is about the INF Treaty and Russia. So a lot of — lot of fact-checking and, of course, announces this second summit with Kim Jong-un February 27th and 28th in Vietnam, but doesn't disclose that there has been no denuclearization does give them credit for not testing. 

Next, Guthrie and Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt took issue with the President not being a gentlemen toward Speaker Nancy Pelosi because he started his speech without allowing the Speaker to introduce him to the House.

“Frankly, President Trump just blew right through that, had been on all the official schedules and planning that she was going to do that and he just started right in without her. Definitely, a breach of protocol there,” Hunt noted.

To Hunt’s credit, she acknowledged unifying moments such as the President noting gains by women in Congress and in the workplace and how the chamber sang Happy Birthday to a survivor of both the Holocaust and the Tree of Life synagogue shooting.

Moments later, Todd smugly replied: “Oh, I think the President should be happy about that. Those will at least dominate what I think is going to be a more, as you said, a very poorly received speech among Democrats.”

Following both speeches, Todd and Mitchell dismissed the President’s portion as having been any sort of attempt to bring the country together (click “expand”):

TODD: Everything was about reinforcing that base, even messages to evangelicals, messages to the pro-Israel community, that he needs to keep close. Everything in this speech was designed to do that. 

GUTHRIE: There was a lot of talk of bipartisanship and unity. Do you feel it was a persuasive speech? 

MITCHELL: Not on bipartisanship, not on compromise. I think it’ll also be remembered for suggesting that investigations are in contrast to war and, you know, if you have investigations and war, then you won't have economic growth and peace. That is a false choice, and it seems to be a very stark new twist in his opposition to the Mueller probe.

In contrast, Abrams was a soft spot in the heart of the NBC panel. Guthrie hailed Abrams for not “let[ting] the Republicans get away with the shutdown” and “let[ting] them have it.”

Mitchell was even more gooey, proclaiming that Abrams was a “very effective speaker” in “scold[ing] the President” while making “a really important statement” about the shutdown.

“This was a strong speech, but also at the end saying we don't want the President to fail. We want him to succeed. We want him to tell the truth. I thought that she hit a lot of strong points there,” she added.

Todd jumped in to agree, asserting that Abrams “did nothing tonight dissuade [Democrats] from wanting to recruit her” for future campaigns. Yeesh.

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
10:30 p.m. Eastern

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Very interesting, Chuck, that he did actually mention the Russia investigation. 

CHUCK TODD: Yeah, he did. 

GUTHRIE: Not by name. 

TODD: Nope. 

GUTHRIE: But he did talk about investigations and how an investigation that goes on was ultimately contrary to the work of the American people. 

TODD: He was trying to do, which is something I remember in the Bill Clinton era, Nixon did it at one of his State of the Unions to try to make the investigation seem like they're getting in way of the agenda and you don’t want that —

LESTER HOLT: Seemed to suggest it was almost un-American. 

TODD: — that — that he was going there. That’s right. That it was going to stand in the way on that front. But, boy, this speech was, if there — the only coherent, like, moment, when I say coherent, meaning where there was a thematic push, you felt like they had a point to make, was on immigration and the standoff with Congress and everything else felt like it was all meant to be just additive to the basic point that he wanted to make about his wall and immigration. Like, that was the most well thought out part of the speech and well argued part of the speech. May not agree with it. Everything else felt like additive to just stay focused. 

HOLT: Let me bring in Andrea, what stood out to you? 

ANDREA MITCHELL: On that point, the walls make us safe line, reinforced that he wants that wall. He says he wants to compromise. There are only ten days left but he was standing by the wall. He didn't revert to what he said earlier in a tweet today which is that people can be walls, so he wasn't offering any semantic cover story there. On foreign policy, he misstates the situation on Iran, again, in contrast to what his own intelligence officials said to Congress to this very congress just days ago, misstates what the reality is about the INF Treaty and Russia. So a lot of — lot of fact-checking and, of course, announces this second summit with Kim Jong-un February 27th and 28th in Vietnam, but doesn't disclose that there has been no denuclearization does give them credit for not testing. 

GUTHRIE: Here's the President leaving the hall and, of course, doing a lot of glad-handing on the way. Kasie Hunt is in the building. She's had a different view than we did. Couple of things, Kasie, first of all, some eagle-eyed viewers noticed that we didn't get that moment at the beginning of this speech where the Speaker of the House traditionally introduces the President, which then unleashes another round of applause. We didn't see that. And then there was a big moment where the President referred to the women now elected to Congress, and I guess the crowd went wild. 

KASIE HUNT: That's right, Savannah. This was really remarkable in how many moments stood out throughout the course of the speech. That’s not often the case in these addresses. It started right at the beginning when the protocol was that Nancy Pelosi, in something of an honor to the President, is supposed to introduce him to members of Congress and frankly, President Trump just blew right through that, had been on all the official schedules and planning that she was going to do that and he just started right in without her. Definitely, a breach of protocol there and of course, everyone paying close attention to their relationship. But you know, the moment where there was the most applause in the chamber was actually when the President started talking about the unemployment rate among women and the number of women who have gotten jobs this year. Of course, all of the women here in the chamber immediately took that as him talking about them and in many cases, they defeated Republican men to win their seats, and ultimately, it ended in a chant that was chamber wide of “U-S-A, U-S-A.” It was a major contrast, even Republicans joined in on that chant. The other two times that that happened here, it was Republicans who were doing that. Of course, another startling moment, not, of course, to do with the women in the chamber, but when the entire crowd sang, “Happy Birthday” to the 81-year-old Holocaust survivor who also was a survivor of that terrible shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue. Really very, very remarkable. Certainly nothing like I have ever seen in the course of my time covering this chamber, Savannah.

HOLT: I felt like those moments all in some way eased what was a lot otherwise tension, partisan tension. 

TODD: Oh, I think the President should be happy about that. Those will at least dominate what I think is going to be a more, as you said, a very poorly received speech among Democrats. 

(....)

10:50 p.m. Eastern

GUTHRIE: And that is not an easy thing to do. There are lots and lots of tales of people who have done the opposition party's response and it's not gone so well for them. 

HOLT: She didn't take the President on directly, but it was clear who she was talking to. 

GUTHRIE: She had ten minutes. One thing she didn't do is let the Republicans get away with the shutdown. That was something that was not mentioned whatsoever during the State of the Union but she let them have it. 

MITCHELL: She did. She scolded the President. She said that it was a stunt. It was a stunt engineered by the President of the United States. She said making their livelihoods a pawn for political games is a disgrace. That was a really important statement, very effective speaker and also denouncing voter fraud. She says that is real and racism. This was a strong speech, but also at the end saying we don't want the President to fail. We want him to succeed. We want him to tell the truth. I thought that she hit a lot of strong points there.

TODD: She's going to be on the ballot in 2020. She's probably running for the United States Senate in Georgia in 2020. 

GUTHRIE: Many Democrats are wanting her to run for that seat. 

TODD: But — but you will and she did nothing tonight dissuade them from wanting to recruit her. 

(....)

10:58 p.m. Eastern

TODD: Everything was about reinforcing that base, even messages to evangelicals, messages to the pro-Israel community, that he needs to keep close. Everything in this speech was designed to do that. 

GUTHRIE: There was a lot of talk of bipartisanship and unity. Do you feel it was a persuasive speech? 

MITCHELL: Not on bipartisanship, not on compromise. I think it’ll also be remembered for suggesting that investigations are in contrast to war and, you know, if you have investigations and war, then you won't have economic growth and peace. That is a false choice, and it seems to be a very stark new twist in his opposition to the Mueller probe.

TODD: You know, that didn’t get a huge applause. That was the one thing that did not get a huge applause. Republicans didn't even stand up for that, for what it's worth. 

GUTHRIE: Well, there always are. You got the White House and have Congress and occasionally Congress says, hey, we are a co-equal branch and that has nothing to do with being a Republican or Democrat. So, perhaps, that's the dynamic we were seeing there. 

NB Daily Congress Pittsburgh synagogue shooting State of the Union Immigration Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Trump-Russia probe Abortion NBC Video Government & Press Lester Holt Chuck Todd Andrea Mitchell Savannah Guthrie Kasie Hunt Donald Trump Stacey Abrams
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