Nets Hail ‘History’ in Hiroshima, Tout Obama Calling for ‘World Without Nuclear Weapons’

The network morning shows on Friday all praised President Obama’s “historic visit” to Hiroshima, Japan – site of the first nuclear bombing – and him using the occasion to push his foreign policy agenda.

Leading off NBC’s Today, announced: “Historic visit. President Obama becomes the first sitting U.S. President to travel to Hiroshima, site of the devastating atomic bombing.” In the report that followed, correspondent Ron Allen declared: “Today, more than anything, President Obama came here to say that nuclear weapons capable of such unspeakable devastation never should be used again.”

Allen described how “the President comforted survivors, who, over the years, had hoped an American president would have come sooner to hear their nightmarish memories,” but that he “refused to second guess or apologize for President Truman's decision to drop the bomb.”

Wrapping up the segment, Allen noted that Obama “had considered visiting here since his first days in office” and proclaimed: “His impassioned remarks today, perhaps an indication that he feels time is running out to achieve his goal of a world without nuclear weapons.”

During a news brief at the top of the 8 a.m. ET hour, news anchor Natalie Morales labeled the visit “controversial,” a word absent from Allen’s report.

At the top of ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos heralded: “President Obama makes history. The first sitting president to visit Hiroshima.” Correspondent Jim Avila followed minutes later: “President Obama walked the solemn spot where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb in war. It was a controversial visit that American presidents have been avoiding for some 70 years....laying a condolence wreath and pleading for world leaders to put an end to not just nuclear weapons but to war itself.”

Avila hailed the event: “A powerful moment in history, an American president calling for the end of the nuclear era that the United States began some 70 years ago.”

Co-host Norah O’Donnell started CBS This Morning with more histrionics, “President Obama reconciles history with an historic visit to Hiroshima. He calls for moral awakening and a world free of nuclear weapons.”

Minutes later, fellow co-host Gayle King touted a new CBS News poll showing “Americans are sharply divided about the use of atomic bombs in 1945. 43% approve, while 44% do not.” She observed: “Support is way down from 2005, that's when 57% approved.”

A recent YouGov poll showed a dramatically different sentiment. The survey found that 45% of Americans thought the bombings were the right decision, compared to just 25% who thought they were the wrong decision. In addition, the poll found an overwhelming 70% said the U.S. should not apologize for the bombings.

Correspondent Margaret Brennan argued that the President’s speech at the memorial “was remarkable for what it did not say. There was no apology for Harry Truman's decision to drop the bomb.” She remarked: “Truman justified it as a necessary evil to end the war, but the bombings also triggered the dawn of a nuclear age. One that President Obama has struggled to contain. He appealed to the next generation to ensure that a nuclear weapon is never used again.”

On Thursday, Brennan fretted over “the reception” Obama would receive from the Japanese by “going to the site of the first nuclear bomb drop and not apologizing.”

On Friday, she lamented his lack of success on the issue of nuclear proliferation: “And President Obama has brokered significant arms control agreements but admits only modest progress on nuclear security. Anthony, Pentagon data shows that he has reduced America's own stockpile less than any post-Cold War president.”

Here are transcripts of the May 27 segments on all three morning shows:

Today
7:00 AM ET TEASE:

MATT LAUER: Historic visit. President Obama becomes the first sitting U.S. President to travel to Hiroshima, site of the devastating atomic bombing. Laying a wreath to remember the 140,000 who died.

BARACK OBAMA: 71 years ago, on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky, and the world was changed.
    
LAUER: But stopping short of an apology.

7:02 AM ET SEGMENT:

MATT LAUER: Let's start with President Obama making history, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, Japan, where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb 71 years ago. NBC's Ron Allen is there. Ron?

RON ALLEN: Good morning, Matt. Hiroshima’s Peace Park is a profound and emotional place, dedicated to the memory of thousands of people who were killed when the U.S. attacked with an atomic bomb. Today, more than anything, President Obama came here to say that nuclear weapons capable of such unspeakable devastation never should be used again.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: President’s Historic Visit to Hiroshima; Lays Wreath, Greets Atomic Bomb Survivors]

ALLEN: President Obama at Hiroshima's Peace Park memorial.

BARACK OBAMA: 71 years ago, on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [REPORTER, 1945]: The first atomic bomb hit an enemy target.

ALLEN: Reflecting on the moment when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and then three days later, another one on Nagasaki. President Truman determined to force Japan's surrender in World War II.

OBAMA: That is why we come to this place, we stand here in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell.

ALLEN: The president laying a wreath at a tomb bearing the names of 300,000 victims, those who perished when the bombs fell and those who have died from the effects of the radiation in the decades since.

OBAMA: Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become.

ALLEN: The President comforted survivors, who, over the years, had hoped an American president would have come sooner to hear their nightmarish memories. President Obama refused to second guess or apologize for President Truman's decision to drop the bomb. He also warned of the still looming threat of nuclear war, and the need for the type of peace and reconciliation the U.S. and Japan have achieved.

OBAMA: The world was forever changed here. But today, the children of this city will go through their day in peace.

ALLEN: President Obama had considered visiting here since his first days in office. His impassioned remarks today, perhaps an indication that he feels time is running out to achieve his goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Savannah?

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Alright, Ron Allen in Hiroshima for us, thank you.


GMA
7:00 AM ET TEASE:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Breaking right now, President Obama makes history. The first sitting president to visit Hiroshima.

BARACK OBAMA: The world was forever changed here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Laying a wreath addressing survivors, but no apology. We're live in Japan with the latest.

7:09 AM ET SEGMENT:

ROBIN ROBERTS: Now to President Obama making history at Hiroshima this morning becoming the first sitting American president to travel there since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb in 1945, near the end of World War II. ABC's Jim Avila is in Japan with the latest. Good morning, Jim.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: President Obama Makes History; First Sitting President to Visit Hiroshima]

JIM AVILA: Robin, this morning President Obama walked the solemn spot where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb in war. It was a controversial visit that American presidents have been avoiding for some 70 years. As promised, he did not apologize for Harry Truman's decision to end the war with a nuclear explosion that killed 160,000 people. Instead, with North Korea obviously on his mind and with Japanese Prime Minister Abe at his side, laying a condolence wreath and pleading for world leaders to put an end to not just nuclear weapons but to war itself.

OBAMA: We must change our mind-set about war itself. To prevent conflict through diplomacy.

AVILA: A powerful moment in history, an American president calling for the end of the nuclear era that the United States began some 70 years ago. Robin?

ROBERTS: That was quite a moment, Jim, with the President in Japan.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, it certainly was.


CBS This Morning
7:00 AM ET TEASE:

NORAH O’DONNELL: President Obama reconciles history with an historic visit to Hiroshima. He calls for moral awakening and a world free of nuclear weapons.

7:03 AM ET SEGMENT:

NORAH O’DONNELL: President Obama made history a short time ago in Japan at the site of the world's first nuclear attack. The president placed a wreath and bowed his head in Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park. He is the first sitting American president to go there.

GAYLE KING: A CBS News poll that is out this morning shows Americans are sharply divided about the use of atomic bombs in 1945. 43% approve, while 44% do not. Support is way down from 2005, that's when 57% approved. Margaret Brennan is in Hiroshima, she’s traveling with the President and joins us now. Margaret, good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Emotions were just too raw to visit Hiroshima for more than 70 years. But President Obama came here, he said, to remind the world of the painful reality of the nuclear threat.                 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Historic Hiroshima Visit; President Calls for World Without Nuclear Weapons]

More than 70 years after an atomic bomb decimated Hiroshima, President Obama paid his respects to the 140,000 lives lost. Standing 1,200 feet from the epicenter of the blast, he solemnly laid a wreath and hugged one of the few remaining survivors. Flanked by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, they gazed at the iconic dome that withstood an explosion more powerful than 20,000 tons of TNT.

OBAMA: We stand here in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell. We listen to a silent cry.

BRENNAN: The speech was remarkable for what it did not say. There was no apology for Harry Truman's decision to drop the bomb.

HARRY TRUMAN: When you have the weapon that will win the war, it would be foolish if you didn't use it.

BRENNAN: At 8:15 on the morning of August 6th, 1945, a nearly five-ton bomb named “Little Boy” dropped from the Enola Gay. Three days later, another struck Nagasaki, killing more than 70,000. Truman justified it as a necessary evil to end the war, but the bombings also triggered the dawn of a nuclear age. One that President Obama has struggled to contain. He appealed to the next generation to ensure that a nuclear weapon is never used again.

OBAMA: That is a future we can choose. A future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.

BRENNAN: And President Obama has brokered significant arms control agreements but admits only modest progress on nuclear security. Anthony, Pentagon data shows that he has reduced America's own stockpile less than any post-Cold War president.

ANTHONY MASON: Margaret Brennan in Japan this morning. Thanks, Margaret.

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