NBC RAGES at ‘Partisan’ Trump SOTU Creating ‘Poisonous’ Mood Trying to ‘Own the Libs’

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NBC News reacted Tuesday night with disdain, disgust, and arguably venom toward President Donald Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address, kvetching that it was “campaign-like,” “confrontation,” “extraordinarily political,” “incredibly raucous,” “partisan,” and responsible for having created a “poisonous...atmosphere” in the House chamber.

And of course, there was plenty of invective hurled at both the President and conservative talk radio host and icon Rush Limbaugh, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom a day after his cancer diagnosis.

 

 

After both the speech and then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripping up her copy of the speech, Today co-host Savannah Guthrie griped about the address triggering “partisan rancor” and zeroed in on Trump’s “very confrontational language on health care” condemning socialism.

While she did correct herself later, Guthrie falsely claimed with complete agreement from each of her fellow panelists that the President never had anything about the state of our union being “strong.” Well, paragraph five said the following: “The State of our Union is stronger than ever before!”

Liberal hack/Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd ached that it was “so far removed from a traditional” and “normal State of the Union” and instead served as “conservative checklist, campaign checklist” to “goos[e] the base.”

Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt was perhaps most upset, complaining that Trump’s remarks created a mood that was “more campaign-like and partisan than any I've covered.” With the inclusion of Limbaugh, Hunt asserted: “I just cannot underscore how poisonous the atmosphere in here felt throughout this speech.”

 

 

After a break and the Democratic response, Hunt returned for more hyperbole and conjecture that would make for a great audition for, say, the Biden or Buttigieg campaign (click “expand”):

Our team of reporters who caught up with her on her way out of the chamber, she was asked, “why did you tear up the speech?” And she responded, “It was the courteous thing to do, considering the alternative.” So, a pretty sharp comment from Pelosi, suggesting that was the polite version of what she had to say to the President in the wake of this speech and I think it really puts a punctuation mark at the end of what was an extraordinarily political State of the Union address. Obviously, these types of speeches are always driven by the politics of the moment, but there's also a lot of formality, a lot of ceremony around something like this. There's usually many moments in the beginning where you'll see both sides of the room stand up and cheer for things that collectively they believe are good. This one was marked by many more moments that were like a campaign-style rally. You had, you know, the President clearly focusing on his side of the room...[T]his one was incredibly raucous, incredibly sharp, and very much, you know, focused on the President's political base and kind of the way that he interacts with them. 

(....)

Rush Limbaugh is such a divisive figure for the lawmakers who are gathered in this room. You know, clearly, his health struggles have put him in a sympathetic mind, but in the political world, he looms large as this figure who has tormented many of the Democratic politicians who are on the floor of the House[.]

 

Guthrie concurred that the speech lacked substance and instead consisted of “more production, more razzle dazzle.”

Todd also came back for more, fretting that the President was “trolling the Democrats” by “honoring Rush Limbaugh” during an event that Pelosi “technically...invites the President to” and instead of being (in his mind) gracious, the medal was “divisive” and “a finger in the eye of Pelosi, finger in the eye of the Democrats.” 

“So, obviously, it was an intentional moment, almost probably hoping people get all worked up about it, which in some ways, you know, the Trump motto is just simply own the libs, and perhaps that's just a moment to do that,” he concluded.

To see the relevant NBC transcript from February 4, click “expand.”

NBC State of the Union
February 4, 2020
10:25 p.m. Eastern

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: So, when we said there was a partisan rancor inside this room, we were — we were telling you, there certainly is. In fact, two members of congress have tweeted that they walked out during this speech. 

LESTER HOLT: And some boycotted, we should note. 

ANDREA MITCHELL: One of Speaker Pelosi's guests, Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was killed at Parkland, was — was escorted out for speaking out, shouting out something when he was talking about —

HOLT: This was a President taking us on a journey of what he called the great American comeback. It was a highly produced speech that featured the granting of scholarships, a general star, a medal of freedom, and a surprise reunion between a soldier and his family. 

CHUCK TODD: It — it’s so far removed from a traditional State of the Union at this point, I don't think it's just — it's just timing that we're calling it the State of the Union. I mean, this was a conservative checklist, campaign checklist of making sure you hit every special interest group — school choice, got it, you know? Immigration, check. You know, talk radio icon, check. I mean, it was all about goosing the base and making a lot of these special interests — judges, check. It was — this was not an agenda-setter, that's —

GUTHRIE: Had very confrontational language on health care that, of course, alluded to the debate going on in the Democratic primary right now about whether or not the government should be more involved in health care. He made two remarks about socialism, one with regard to the government of Venezuela, but one with regard to health care, which, of course, is something Republicans accuse Democrats of wanting and some Democrats say they do want government-run health care. 

MITCHELL: And he — and he pledged to protect pre-existing conditions, which is something that the Justice Department is fighting to overturn in state after state. He also paid tribute to two of his Supreme Court nominees and then said, “and there are more in the pipeline to come,” which was a very —

GUTHRIE: Ad-libbed line. 

TODD: The speech almost felt as if it's a trap for Democrats. It's almost he's baiting Democrats, like watch this. They’ll think this is nuts. I'll give the Medal of Honor to Rush Limbaugh. 

[HOUSE FLOOR PROCEDURE]

GUTHRIE: Speaker Pelosi gavels it out. That is the State of the Union. Now, did anyone — usually in these addresses, the President at some point says “the State of the Union is strong.” Did I miss that?

HOLT: I don’t think that was part of his remarks.

GUTHRIE: I don’t —

TODD: That's what I mean when I say —

GUTHRIE: — there wasn’t the traditional —

TODD: — this was not meant to be — and given what it turned into, his speech, it's a long way away from the normal State of the Union. 

HOLT: Let’s — let’s go to Kasie Hunt — Kasie Hunt, if we can, has been on the floor there of the House. Can you give us some of the color and what you observed as Speaker Pelosi appeared to tear up that speech? 

KASIE HUNT: Yeah, it's remarkable, Lester, the tenor and tone and mood in this room, more campaign-like and partisan than any I've covered in the last decade of covering speeches inside — these types of speeches inside the chamber, State of the Unions, joint addresses. In fact, there are still some Republicans here in the chamber flashing the thumbs up to Rush Limbaugh, who was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom as this all unfolded, but I — it just — the — I just cannot underscore how poisonous the atmosphere in here felt throughout this speech with the possible exception —

[HOUSE FLOOR PROCEDURE]

HUNT: — of that moment where those two were reunited, Lester.

(....)

10:49 p.m. Eastern

HUNT: Our team of reporters who caught up with her on her way out of the chamber, she was asked, “why did you tear up the speech?” And she responded, “It was the courteous thing to do, considering the alternative.” So, a pretty sharp comment from Pelosi, suggesting that was the polite version of what she had to say to the President in the wake of this speech and I think it really puts a punctuation mark at the end of what was an extraordinarily political State of the Union address. Obviously, these types of speeches are always driven by the politics of the moment, but there's also a lot of formality, a lot of ceremony around something like this. There's usually many moments in the beginning where you'll see both sides of the room stand up and cheer for things that collectively they believe are good. This one was marked by many more moments that were like a campaign-style rally. You had, you know, the President clearly focusing on his side of the room. There were chants at the beginning of “four more years,” which I can't recall ever having heard in the decade in I've been covering these speeches. It just — for a speech where normally a single moment of impropriety stands up, this one was incredibly raucous, incredibly sharp, and very much, you know, focused on the President's political base and kind of the way that he interacts with them. 

HOLT: And Kasie, can you describe what it was like when Rush Limbaugh was given — given the medal? We don't control the cameras in this particular case. They were controlled as part of a pool by another network, but we didn't see the Democratic side of the room. 

HUNT: So, Lester, the Democratic side of the room remained seated. They were not clapping as this moment unfolded. They were watching, somewhat uncomfortably. I saw Joe Manchin was one of the only Democrats who sat on the Republican side of the room and while he stood and clapped while Mr. Limbaugh was introduced — he was, of course, recently diagnosed with cancer — he remained seated for this portion of the program, kind of craning his neck to watch and you know, you have to remember, Rush Limbaugh is such a divisive figure for the lawmakers who are gathered in this room. You know, clearly, his health struggles have put him in a sympathetic mind, but in the political world, he looms large as this figure who has tormented many of the Democratic politicians who are on the floor of the House and so, I think he was received as such and you saw him — you see it there, you were showing him giving the thumbs up to the crowd. You could see the Republicans giving that thumbs up back from the floor of the House, and that actually continued after the speech ended. Rush Limbaugh stayed in that front row, and as the Republicans trickled out, they were looking up to him and flashing that thumbs up back to him. Lester? 

HOLT: Kasie, thanks.

GUTHRIE: Thank you very much. It's interesting, because states of the union for many, many years, have had these kind of set pieces where they have the guests and they stand up, but this was more production, more razzle dazzle than I think we've ever seen. 

TODD: It was the president trolling the Democrats. Yes, there was no impeachment, honoring Rush Limbaugh in that moment in an event that was technically begun because the Speaker of the House invites the President to come to the House chamber to give this, and he gives the medal —

GUTHRIE: Well, the complexity is also that Rush Limbaugh is in a battle for his life at this point. 

TODD: No doubt, but to do it on the House floor was a finger in the eye of Pelosi, finger in the eye of the Democrats. 

MITCHELL: He’s been —

TODD: There's a million ways that could have been done. Could have easily given it tomorrow, tonight, had it where it is friends and family. I mean, it's kind of awkward to do that in front of people you know that may not be as interested in seeing it done that way. You know, do it in a little less divisive way, you do it at the White House. So, obviously, it was an intentional moment, almost probably hoping people get all worked up about it, which in some ways, you know, the Trump motto is just simply own the libs, and perhaps that's just a moment to do that. 

NB Daily State of the Union Health Care NBC Lester Holt Chuck Todd Savannah Guthrie Andrea Mitchell Kasie Hunt Donald Trump Rush Limbaugh
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