NBC Turns to Obama Flack to Label Trump North Korea Visit ‘Dangerous’

On Monday, NBC’s Today show turned to national security analyst and former Obama administration official Jeremy Bash to slam President Trump’s DMZ meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as “dangerous.” Bash, who worked for a president that eagerly negotiated with Iran and Cuba, complained about Trump’s trip being “symbolism over substance.”

“Let’s start off with these propaganda images and videos released by North Korea. Sort of underscores the risk here, right? How big of a risk was this move for President Trump, and could it actually be dangerous, Jeremy?,” asked fill-in co-host Kristen Welker. Bash seized on her framing: “Well, Kristen, this is symbolism over substance....if they’re only delivering us photo-ops as opposed to actual accounting of their nuclear facilities and dismantlement, I think it’s actually potentially dangerous for the United States.”

 

 

Co-host Craig Melvin actually asked Bash to respond to claims from Trump that President Obama wanted to meet Kim Jong-un during his time in the White House: “President Trump asserted over the weekend that President Obama had been begging Kim Jong-un for a meeting. Is that true?” Bash denied it, but seemed not entirely certain: “I never heard that, Craig. I was at the Pentagon when Kim Jong-un came to power. I don’t think that’s accurate at all.”

He then quickly returned to attacking Trump:

And in fact, in the three summits, in Singapore, in Hanoi, and now at the DMZ, the President has put Kim Jong-un on the world stage. He’s delivered a major propaganda victory. And again, my concern is, if it’s harmless, okay, it could be harmful if they don’t actually deliver results.

Welker urged the liberal pundit to provide “another fact check” on whether it was possible to make any diplomatic progress with North Korea on denuclearization: “So why will this third meeting be any different? Could it make a difference, Jeremy?” Bash assured her that it would not: “I don’t think it will....If we don’t get a plan for dismantlement, all of these photo-ops, all of this pageantry doesn’t actually make us safer.”

Making at least one brief attempt to examine the other side of the issue, Welker wondered: “Jeremy, the President’s supporters will say, ‘Look, bottom line, it is better to talk, better to come to the table than not try at all.’ Do they have a point there?” Bash admitted that “diplomacy is always good,” but feared that the President’s approach meant “North Koreans are developing their capabilities and we’re giving them the time to do so.”

At no point in the segment did Welker or Melvin press Bash on Barack Obama’s willingness to open up diplomatic relations with authoritarian regimes in Iran and Cuba. In fact, NBC often likes to get Bash’s thoughts about Trump’s foreign policy decisions, despite the obvious failings of the Obama administration on similar fronts.

On Sunday, both NBC and ABC dismissed Trump’s North Korea visit as just a “photo op.”

Here is a full transcript of the July 1 discussion:

7:09 AM ET

KRISTEN WELKER: And for more now on the President’s meeting with Kim Jong-un, let's bring in NBC News national security analyst Jeremy Bash. Jeremy, great to see you.

JEREMY BASH: Hey, guys.

WELKER: Let’s start off with these propaganda images and videos released by North Korea. Sort of underscores the risk here, right? How big of a risk was this move for President Trump, and could it actually be dangerous, Jeremy?

BASH: Well, Kristen, this is symbolism over substance. I mean, North Korea has nuclear fuel for about 50 nuclear bombs worth. They have an intercontinental ballistic missile. They test-fired it actually two years ago, the week of July 4th. So with time – as time goes by, they are increasing their program. And if they’re only delivering us photo ops as opposed to actual accounting of their nuclear facilities and dismantlement, I think it’s actually potentially dangerous for the United States.

CRAIG MELVIN: Jeremy, you were at the CIA and Pentagon during the Obama years. President Trump asserted over the weekend that President Obama had been begging Kim Jong-un for a meeting. Is that true?

BASH: I never heard that, Craig. I was at the Pentagon when Kim Jong-un came to power. I don’t think that’s accurate at all. And in fact, in the three summits, in Singapore, in Hanoi, and now at the DMZ, the President has put Kim Jong-un on the world stage. He’s delivered a major propaganda victory. And again, my concern is, if it’s harmless, okay, it could be harmful if they don’t actually deliver results.

WELKER: Let’s do another fact check here because the President’s own intelligence community has said Kim Jong-un has no intention of giving up his nuclear weapons program. So why will this third meeting be any different? Could it make a difference, Jeremy?

BASH: I don’t think it will, Kristen, unless North Korea gives us a full list of all their undisclosed sites. And that’s the key. If we don’t get a plan for dismantlement, all of these photo ops, all of this pageantry doesn’t actually make us safer.

MELVIN: What would the incentive be for Kim Jong-un to do that?

BASH: Well, he would ultimately want sanctions relief. He wants his economy to improve, and he wants to be embraced by the world community. But of course, on the heels of the G-20, the global gathering of all of the leaders of the major industrialized nations, he’s there with the big story out of the weekend.

WELKER: Jeremy, the President’s supporters will say, “Look, bottom line, it is better to talk, better to come to the table than not try at all.” Do they have a point there?  

BASH: Well, Churchill said “Jaw, jaw not war, war,” so diplomacy is always good. But again, the North Koreans are developing their capabilities and we’re giving them the time to do so.

WELKER: Jeremy Bash, as always, great information, thank you.

BASH: Thanks, guys.

NB Daily Foreign Policy North Korea NBC Today Video Kristen Welker Craig Melvin Jeremy Bash Donald Trump

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