NBC’s Brennan Hails ‘Courageous’ NYT Op/Ed Author Attacking ‘Unfit’ Trump

On Thursday, NBC’s Today show invited on former CIA Director and anti-Trump activist John Brennan to react to an anonymous New York Times op/ed from a supposed administration official personally attacking the President. Predictably, the NBC News analyst praised the unknown author of the hit piece as a “courageous” individual trying to “prevent disasters.”

At the top of the segment, co-host Savannah Guthrie acknowledged Brennan’s obvious bias: “And I guess I should give your bona fides, you are certainly a Trump critic and the President notoriously took your security clearances.” Nevertheless, she teed him up to defend the anonymous Times article: “What about the daring of it? I mean, what’s your reaction to the idea that somebody who’s going to wake up and report to work at the White House or in the administration wrote this piece about a sitting president?”

 

 

Brennan eagerly praised the editorial, claiming it completely validated the media narrative against President Trump:

Well, I think there are two major takeaways. One is, what the author wrote is wholly consistent with all the reports that we have seen over the last year, the reports within Bob Woodward’s book, and other things about just how unfit, reckless, irresponsible Donald Trump is. But secondly, it shows the depth of concern within the administration, within the senior ranks of the administration, about what is happening and the extraordinary steps that individuals are willing to take, such as this op-ed, to prevent disasters.

At that point, the former Obama administration official acknowledged that “it’s active insubordination,” but argued that the nasty attack was “insubordination born out of loyalty to the country, not to Donald Trump.”

Co-host Hoda Kotb followed up: “I mean, it probably took somebody some courage to write this. But would you see this as a courageous act, or, if you had to describe it, would you describe it as more of a betrayal?” Brennan replied: “Well, I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Certainly the administration sees it as a betrayal. It’s certainly courageous. It’s risky.”

He then compared the anonymous op/ed author to himself: “It is so unusual as to raise questions about – it’s so abnormal, these times, that people are doing abnormal things. People have criticized me for speaking out as a former director, but I see all the warning signs of looming disaster, as does this person.”

Wrapping up the softball exchange, Guthrie fretted over Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticizing the New York Times for publishing such an article without revealing the identity of the writer:

Mike Pompeo, our Secretary of State, said, “It shouldn’t surprise anyone that The New York Times, a liberal newspaper that has attacked this administration relentlessly, chose to print such a piece.” And he goes on to say, “And I have to tell you, I find the media’s efforts in this regard to undermine this administration incredibly disturbing.” So he’s pointing the finger at the purveyor of the information as opposed to the person who wrote the article.

Brennan condemned the statement as an effort to “delegitimize the free and open press.” He unsurprisingly praised the media for consistently going after the administration:

The press, I think, has done a very good job. Now, there is press both on the right and the left that I think has been rather hyperbolic. But I think The New York Times and the mainstream print newspapers, as well as the networks, need to make sure that they’re not going to go too far and overreach on this. But clearly things are reaching a boiling point and what happens in the days, weeks, and months ahead, I think, is going to determine just how much damage will be done to this country.

The only challenging question to Brennan came when Kotb asked: “But do you think that this may just be counterproductive?...Do you think this will actually add to the problems?”

Brennan dodged:

Well, I think it’s going to have an impact in terms of a cumulative effect that we’ve seen over the past week. The memorial service for John McCain and very eloquent statements about the American values that are not being followed by Donald Trump. Secondly, the Bob Woodward book and all the exposes there. And now, this. And so, I think you see just a continual sort of increase in the concern, the extraordinary measures that people are taking.

He warned that “things will get worse before they get better” and referred to Trump as a “wounded lion” who was still “a very dangerous animal.”

The interview with Brennan on the Today show came after all three network evening newscasts on Wednesday devoted almost 15 minutes of air time to hyping the Times article.

Here is a full transcript of Brennan’s September 6 appearance on the Today show:

7:09 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let’s turn to former CIA Director John Brennan. He served under multiple presidents, Republicans and Democrats, he’s an NBC News analyst. Mr. Brennan, good morning.

JOHN BRENNAN: Good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Stunning “Resistance” Inside White House; What Revelation Means for White House & Nat’l Security]

GUTHRIE: And I guess I should give your bona fides, you are certainly a Trump critic and the President notoriously took your security clearances. So with that I ask you, first of all, when you read this article, got any suspects? You worked in government a long time.

BRENNAN: I have no idea who wrote it.

GUTHRIE: Let’s set aside, for a moment, the substance of what this author says. What about the daring of it? I mean, what’s your reaction to the idea that somebody who’s going to wake up and report to work at the White House or in the administration wrote this piece about a sitting president?

BRENNAN: Well, I think there are two major takeaways. One is, what the author wrote is wholly consistent with all the reports that we have seen over the last year, the reports within Bob Woodward’s book, and other things about just how unfit, reckless, irresponsible Donald Trump is. But secondly, it shows the depth of concern within the administration, within the senior ranks of the administration, about what is happening and the extraordinary steps that individuals are willing to take, such as this op-ed, to prevent disasters.

And it’s active insubordination. It is. But it’s insubordination born out of loyalty to the country, not to Donald Trump. This is not sustainable to have an executive branch where individuals are not following the orders of the chief executive.

HODA KOTB: So to put a fine point on that. I mean, it probably took somebody some courage to write this. But would you see this as a courageous act, or, if you had to describe it, would you describe it as more of a betrayal?

BRENNAN: Well, I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Certainly the administration sees it as a betrayal. It’s certainly courageous. It’s risky. It is so unusual as to raise questions about – it’s so abnormal, these times, that people are doing abnormal things. People have criticized me for speaking out as a former director, but I see all the warning signs of looming disaster, as does this person.

KOTB: But do you think that this may just be counterproductive? You put all this in writing and President Trump, obviously he tweeted overnight saying he’s going to drain the swamp. Do you think this will actually add to the problems?

BRENNAN: Well, I think it’s going to have an impact in terms of a cumulative effect that we’ve seen over the past week. The memorial service for John McCain and very eloquent statements about the American values that are not being followed by Donald Trump. Secondly, the Bob Woodward book and all the exposes there. And now, this. And so, I think you see just a continual sort of increase in the concern, the extraordinary measures that people are taking.

I do think things will get worse before they get better. I don’t know how Donald Trump is going to react to this. A wounded lion is a very dangerous animal, and I think Donald Trump is wounded. And we still haven’t heard from the Mueller team in terms of what else might be out there.

GUTHRIE: Can I ask you one other thing? You’re a former official, I’m sure you’ve had your moments where you’re not loving the press or the questions that you get, but Mike Pompeo, our Secretary of State, said, “It shouldn’t surprise anyone that The New York Times, a liberal newspaper that has attacked this administration relentlessly, chose to print such a piece.” And he goes on to say, “And I have to tell you, I find the media’s efforts in this regard to undermine this administration incredibly disturbing.” So he’s pointing the finger at the purveyor of the information as opposed to the person who wrote the article.

BRENNAN: Well, this is consistent with what Donald Trump has done, which is try to delegitimize the free and open press because of their concern that the press is exposing the problems of this administration. And so Mike Pompeo is just, I think, following that line. The press, I think, has done a very good job. Now, there is press both on the right and the left that I think has been rather hyperbolic. But I think The New York Times and the mainstream print newspapers, as well as the networks, need to make sure that they’re not going to go too far and overreach on this. But clearly things are reaching a boiling point and what happens in the days, weeks, and months ahead, I think, is going to determine just how much damage will be done to this country.

GUTHRIE: Former CIA Director John Brennan, thank you very much, appreciate having you here.

KOTB: Thank you.

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