On Friday, all three network morning shows hailed Hillary Clinton’s vicious tirade against Donald Trump during a speech on Thursday. On NBC’s Today, correspondent Kristen Welker excitedly asked: “Did Hillary Clinton finally crack the code for taking on Donald Trump? That's the big question this morning after Clinton delivered a withering 35-minute speech arguing that electing Trump would be a, quote, ‘historic mistake.’”
The reporter gushed: “It was a passionate address many Democrats had been waiting to hear, but was also aimed at independents and moderate Republicans.” She declared: “Clinton arguing that he' is, quote, ‘temperamentally unfit”....[she] mocked him, while also picking apart Trump's foreign policy proposals point by point...”
In a discussion that followed, co-host Savannah Guthrie hyped: “It wasn't so much a substantive foreign policy address as it was a total takedown of Donald Trump on these issues of national security...is this the blueprint for Hillary Clinton going forward?” Political analyst Nicolle Wallace agreed: “She laid out the definitive case against Donald Trump's candidacy.”
Immediately after Clinton on spoke on Thursday, Wallace took to MSNBC to celebrate the address and how the Democratic frontrunner “just nailed the performance aspect of this speech.”
On ABC’s Good Morning America, correspondent Cecilia Vega proclaimed: “This was 33 minutes of Donald Trump bashing. Hillary Clinton said her Republican rival could send the country into nuclear war because of his thin skin, and that was just the beginning.”
Thrilled by Clinton’s strategy of “attack, attack and attack again,” Vega applauded: “Clinton using some choice words to describe her GOP rival.” A montage played of the former Secretary of State blasting her Republican opponent: “Incoherent, bizarre, thin-skinned and quick to anger. Lashes out...” Vega added: “She called Trump dangerous....She basically called him unhinged.”
She concluded that Clinton was “receiving a lot of praise this morning especially from supporters who wanted to see her take a tougher stand against Donald Trump and they certainly got that with this big speech yesterday.”
Turning to political analyst Matthew Dowd after the report, co-host George Stephanopoulos remarked that Clinton “really emptied the dump truck on Donald Trump yesterday” and posed: “Is this the argument for the next five months?” Dowd replied: “Well, I think this, we’re going to see, if she stays disciplined with this over the course of the next five months, through the conventions, through the debates and all the way into the fall, I think it could be effective.”
On CBS This Morning, co-host Gayle King announced: “Hillary Clinton says electing Donald Trump would be a 'Historic mistake.' She held almost nothing back yesterday, calling Donald Trump unfit to lead and saying his foreign policy ideas make no sense.”
Correspondent Nancy Cordes observed that the speech “was exactly what Democrats had been waiting to hear....a 35-minute point-by-point critique of what she calls Trump's ‘dangerously incoherent ideas.’”
Leading off a discussion with Atlantic reporter Jeffrey Goldberg at the top of 8 a.m. ET hour, co-host Charlie Rose hoped: “Is this perhaps a turning point for the Clinton campaign in terms of the way she ridiculed Donald Trump?” Goldberg asserted: “Right, it absolutely is. Yesterday was pivotal....Yesterday's speech was not really a foreign policy speech, it was more like a psychiatric indictment of her opponent...”
Fellow co-host Norah O’Donnell raved: “It was a point-by-point indictment, using his own words as evidence against him....And the idea that he is unfit to command, to be commander in chief....And control the nuclear codes.” Goldberg piled on: “I think that what she's going to do over the next five months is keep hammering that point home, that this man is not mentally stable.”
He predicted: “It was an attempt to frame him as mentally unfit for office. But it was also an attempt to goad him, to goad him into saying something irretrievably bad....I think that the goal is to get him so angry that he says something that reminds voters or tells voters that this guy’s not fit.”
Near the end of the segment, O’Donnell oddly argued: “Is it a turning point because finally this is going to be a contest of ideas and not about ad hominem attacks?” Goldberg pointed out: “I saw fewer ideas than I did see ad hominem attacks.” Rose chimed in: “This was more ridicule than policy.”
Besides those brief descriptions, none of the hosts or correspondents on any of network broadcasts suggested Clinton was being unfair in her harsh comments about Trump or that she was taking the campaign to a “new low,” a favorite phrase often used to hit Republicans for their rhetoric.
Here is a full transcript of June 3 segment on This Morning with Goldberg:
8:01 AM ET
CHARLIE ROSE: Another Donald Trump rally ended in chaos after he and Hillary Clinton blasted each other with some of the toughest talk we have seen in this campaign. Trump supporters in San Jose last night were chased, surrounded, and attacked by anti-Trump protesters. Punches were thrown in some of the scuffles.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Violence on the Trail; Campaign Plunges Into Bloody Protests and Insults]
GAYLE KING: After the rally, Donald Trump responded with outrage to Hillary Clinton's scathing foreign policy attack and then, he then attacked her for using a private e-mail server as Secretary of State.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: “She Has to Go to Jail”; Trump Rips Clinton After Foreign Policy Address]
DONALD TRUMP: After what she said about me today in her phony speech, that was a phony speech – that was a Donald Trump hit job. I will say this, Hillary Clinton has to go to jail, okay. She has to go to jail.
KING: Earlier, Hillary Clinton said Trump is, quote, "Temperamental – temperamentally unfit to be president."
HILLARY CLINTON: It's not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin. This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes. He praises dictators like Vladimir Putin and picks fights with our friends, including the British Prime Minister, the Mayor of London, the German Chancellor, the President of Mexico, and the Pope. He says he doesn't have to listen to our generals or admirals, our ambassadors and other high officials, because he has, quote, "a very good brain." He also said, "I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me." You know what, I don't believe him.
KING: Wow. Clinton said making the right decision requires a cool head and respect for the facts.
CHARLIE ROSE: With us now is Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic. Earlier this year, he interviewed President Obama for a cover story about his foreign policy doctrine. Welcome.
JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Thank you.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Clinton’s Speech Slam; Atlantic Correspondent on Democrat Attacking Trump]
ROSE: Is this perhaps a turning point for the Clinton campaign in terms of the way she ridiculed Donald Trump?
GOLDBERG: Right, it absolutely is. Yesterday was pivotal. She decided that this is not a traditional campaign, and therefore, she's not going to take the traditional approach to a candidate. Yesterday's speech was not really a foreign policy speech, it was more like a psychiatric indictment of her opponent, and that is fairly unprecedented. Certainly unprecedented in June. The question to me is, we're only in June, where does this thing go over the next five months? When you go nuclear yesterday, where does it go?
KING: What do you think the –
NORAH O’DONNELL: It was a point-by-point indictment, using his own words as evidence against him.
GOLDBERG: I think she quoted him 41 separate times, using his words against him.
O’DONNELL: And the idea that he is unfit to command, to be commander in chief.
GOLDBERG: Right, right.
O’DONNELL: And control the nuclear codes.
GOLDBERG: Right. I think that what she's going to do over the next five months is keep hammering that point home, that this man is not mentally stable. That's why we're in this unprecedented moment. I mean, this wasn't – you know, usually – this is the interesting thing to me – usually in a campaign, she would come out and give a foreign policy speech and say, “He's an isolationist.” And he would say, “She wants to use the military too much” or “You're too liberal,” “You’re too conservative.” Here was a candidate saying, “I am sane, and he is insane.” That was the frame. And that – I can't remember – in the '64 race you had a little bit of that, the Goldwater/LBJ. But this was – this was already dialed up.
ROSE: We're way beyond that.
GOLDBERG: This was – we’re already dialed way beyond that.
KING: And what do you think, Jeff, that the Clinton campaign is hoping will come out of it? Because she certainly seemed to want to provoke him. And normally when he's provoked, as he says, “I strike back.”
GOLDBERG: Right. Well, this is the thing, I think there are a number of things that are happening there. It was a foreign policy speech. It was, “Here's what he's done.” It was an attempt to frame him as mentally unfit for office. But it was also an attempt to goad him, to goad him into saying something irretrievably bad.
O’DONNELL: Like what?
GOLDBERG: Well, you know, I can’t – this is a family-friendly show, I'm not going to go where he can go. But you know, I think that the goal is to get him so angry that he says something that reminds voters or tells voters that this guy’s not fit.
ROSE: It really is a good question, what do we mean by “irretrievably”? Because we have thought he's gone there before and never turns out that he –
GOLDBERG: Right. We're all in deep water here. We're all in – in the deep end of the pool. We as journalists and as people who cover politics, we haven't really seen this yet. And so, I don't know where you go that's too far. But I think the goal here is to get him to make a mistake.
O’DONNELL: She laid that out, as you said, 41 different points. And she then sums up the speech and says, “Now, imagine Donald Trump sitting in the Situation Room making life-or-death decisions on behalf of the United States. Imagine him sending [sic] whether to send your spouses or children into battle. Imagine if he had not just had his Twitter account at his disposal when he's angry, but America's entire arsenal.”
GOLDBERG: Right, I mean, that –
O’DONNELL: So they are conjuring – it seems that they're trying to conjure up an image of this man in the White House.
GOLDBERG: Look, this is the Goldwater. This is the –
ROSE: Exactly, the Goldwater ad.
GOLDBERG: This is the LBJ play. LBJ told the voters in 1964 that Goldwater will cause a nuclear war that will kill your children.
ROSE: And did an ad that showed a nuclear explosion.
GOLDBERG: The famous Daisy Ad.
ROSE: It only aired once.
KING: And you've been talking to the Clinton team. What do you think – what went on behind the scenes that they said we've got to change our strategy and tactics here?
GOLDBERG: A, she really wanted to do this. And by the way, if you watch the speech, she was having a good time doing that, finally unleashing this. But I think they realize that they're in a non-conventional campaign against a non-conventional, very smart foe, and that, you know, “We're going to do this differently than we would of if we were running against Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush.”
O’DONNELL: Is it a turning point because finally this is going to be a contest of ideas and not about ad hominem attacks?
GOLDBERG: I saw fewer ideas than I did see ad hominem attacks.
ROSE: This was more ridicule than policy.
GOLDBERG: Like I said, this was, you know, psychiatric analysis in the guise of foreign policy speech.
ROSE: How is she different from President Obama in terms of her foreign policy? What does she want to do?
GOLDBERG: Well, look, she in many ways is the hawk in this race, right? She is much more hawkish, has more of a bias toward action than President Obama. Trump, the hard thing for Hillary Clinton – and this goes to your question too – the hard thing for her is that he's coming at her, Trump is coming at her from the left and the right simultaneously. You know, she's weak, and she uses the military too much. And so this is why I think she's trying to – kind of got to run around that and deal with him and deal with issues of stability and temperament rather than policy. But yeah, she's definitely – she’s definitely on the spectrum. She's much more of an interventionist. Much more of a great power person than Obama. And in a different way than Trump.
KING: It is very interesting to watch. You will give us that, won’t you, Jeff?
GOLDBERG: It's like five-car pileup, you keep watching even though you don't want to.
KING: Thank you.
O’DONNELL: Jeffrey Goldberg, so great to have you here.
GOLDBERG: Thanks, glad to be here.