‘Meltdown’ Mania: Nets Adopt Dem Spin of Trump ‘Lashing Out’

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On Thursday, the NBC, ABC, and CBS morning shows all quickly accepted talking points from House Democrats that President Trump suffered a “meltdown” during a White House meeting with them on Wednesday afternoon. While some administration push-back was included in the coverage, reporters on all three networks laid blame for the Democrats walking out of that meeting solely on the President.

“Chaos at the White House,” co-host Hoda Kotb breathlessly proclaimed at the top of NBC’s Today show, followed by a clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi trying to justify why she and her liberal colleagues stormed out of a meeting with the President: “What we witnessed on the part of the President was a meltdown. Sad to say.”

 

 

Minutes later, correspondent Peter Alexander warned that “this fight between the President and top Democrats is spinning out of control, punctuated by that contentious clash here at the White House.” With the headline on screen blaring, “‘Meltdown’ at the White House?,” the reporter gushed over a photo of the “fiery exchange” in which Pelosi could be seen “standing there in a cabinet room full of men, with her finger pointed at the President.”

After soundbites ran of Pelosi calling on people to “pray” for Trump’s “health” because of the “very serious meltdown on the part of the President” and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accusing the President of launching into a “nasty diatribe,” Alexander noted:

President Trump hitting back, accusing Democrats of storming out, releasing these photos from the cabinet room. Pelosi, seen her standing up, embracing the image, making it her background photo on Twitter. The President later using the same language as Pelosi against her, tweeting, “She had a total meltdown in the White House today. It was very sad to watch. Pray for her, she is a very person!”

The correspondent worked to discredit the claim that Pelosi was the one acting unhinged, dismissing Trump’s defense as “a tactic often used by the President.”

In a news brief at the top of the 7:30 a.m. ET half hour, co-host Savannah Guthrie pushed the story again: “The President accused Democrats of storming out of a meeting. But Democrats say they walked out after the President had a meltdown, hurling insults at them while talking about ISIS.” In a tease about the topic leading off the 8:00 a.m. ET hour, Kotb declared: “Coming up, a White House meltdown?”

Leading off ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos saw “chaos and confrontation in Washington” in the wake of the “White House walkout.” The obligatory clip of Pelosi alleging a Trump “meltdown” was included. Introducing a report on the subject moments later, Stephanopoulos announced: “Trump lashed out in a tense White House meeting that descended into name-calling. Prompting a walkout from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called the President’s performance a meltdown.”

Correspondent Terry Moran the covered the contentious meeting. While repeating the story in the 8:00 a.m. ET hour, Moran emphasized that Trump was the one “lashing out”:

It’s getting nasty here, as you say, even worse than usual. The President really just lashing out at Democrats....Democratic leaders arriving for a meeting with the President, which quickly turned into a free for all. The President tearing into them, lashing out at Speaker Pelosi, Pelosi walking out and coming out to claim that the President had a meltdown. The President then responding late into the night on Twitter, saying it was Nancy Pelosi who melted down, not him.

“Meltdown. President Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi face off in an explosive meeting over Syria at the White House,” co-host Anthony Mason touted as he opened CBS This Morning. He adopted the Democrats’ version of events:

The first face-to-face meeting between President Trump and top Democrats since the impeachment inquiry began did not go smoothly. The Democrats walked out yesterday claiming the President insulted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a briefing for congressional leaders on the deteriorating military situation in Syria.

Turning to correspondent Weijia Jiang, Mason asked: “What triggered the blowup?” Jiang replied: “Democrats say President Trump lost his cool and was visibly shaken up because the House overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning his decision to pull those U.S. troops out of Syria.” However, she at least mentioned: “The White House is painting a very different picture and blamed Democratic leaders for leaving early so they could come out here and whine to the press instead of working with their colleagues.”

Jiang quickly returned to the Democratic narrative of the day: “Democratic leaders say they stormed out of the White House after President Trump pounced on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.” She further promoted: “After the meeting, Mr. Trump tweeted a photo of the confrontation with the caption ‘Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown.’ Seemingly unbothered, Pelosi responded by making the photograph the backgrounds shot of her Twitter profile.”

Whenever the Democrats engage in a partisan stunt like walking out of a White House meeting with the President on a serious foreign policy matter, they know they can rely on the press to push their spin on what happened.

Here is a transcript of the October 17 coverage on NBC’s Today show:

7:00 AM ET

HODA KOTB: Chaos at the White House.

NANCY PELOSI: What we witnessed on the part of the President was a meltdown. Sad to say.

KOTB: Democrats storm out of a heated meeting with President Trump after both parties vote to condemn his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

(...)

7:02 AM ET  

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: In a stunning rebuke, Democrats and Republicans banded together yesterday and voted overwhelmingly to condemn President Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of that region. And that was the backdrop later in the day at a tension-filled White House meeting between the President and congressional leaders that deteriorated into name calling and a walkout by Democrats.

(...)

7:03 AM ET

PETER ALEXANDER: With the crisis in Syria escalating, this fight between the President and top Democrats is spinning out of control, punctuated by that contentious clash here at the White House. The fiery exchange captured in this photo, take a look, released by the White House, showing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi standing there in a cabinet room full of men, with her finger pointed at the President. All of it marking a wild 1000th day of the Trump presidency.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: “Meltdown” at the White House?; Trump Under Fire From Dems & GOP Over Syria Moves]

Shortly after a House vote where more than 100 Republicans joined Democrats condemning the President’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, a heated confrontation inside the White House.  

NANCY PELOSI: Earlier today, the House of Representatives voted, what, 354 to 60 in opposition to the actions that he has taken in Syria. He was shaken up by it.

ALEXANDER: That clash between President Trump and top Democrats spilling out onto the steps of the West Wing.

PELOSI: I pray for the President all the time, and I tell him that. I pray for his safety and that of his family. Now we have to pray for his health, because this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the President.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: He called her a third-rate politician, he said that there are communist involved and “you guys might like that.” I mean, this was not a dialogue, it was sort of diatribe, a nasty diatribe.

ALEXANDER: President Trump hitting back, accusing Democrats of storming out, releasing these photos from the cabinet room. Pelosi, seen her standing up, embracing the image, making it her background photo on Twitter. The President later using the same language as Pelosi against her, tweeting, “She had a total meltdown in the White House today. It was very sad to watch. Pray for her, she is a very person!”

It’s a tactic often used by the President.

HILLARY CLINTON [OCTOBER 19, 2016]: That’s because he would rather have a puppet as President of the United States.  

DONALD TRUMP: No puppet, no puppet. You’re the puppet.

(...)

7:06 AM ET

ALEXANDER: And this morning, we are getting new details about exactly what was said during that exchange here at the White House. Things devolving when Speaker Pelosi explained to the President that Russia has always wanted a, quote, “foothold in the Middle East,” and now has one with the U.S. withdrawal. This according to a senior Democratic aide, that Pelosi then told the President, quote, “All roads with you lead to Putin.” The President responding, “I hate ISIS more than you do.” And later, as the Democrats marched out, his final words, “Good-bye, we’ll see you at the polls.”

(...)

7:30 AM ET

GUTHRIE: We’re going to start this morning with the news and that heated confrontation between the President and top Democrats inside the White House yesterday. The President accused Democrats of storming out of a meeting. But Democrats say they walked out after the President had a meltdown, hurling insults at them while talking about ISIS.

(...)

8:00 AM ET

KOTB: Coming up, a White House meltdown? Shortly after both parties vote to condemn his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, Democrats storm out of a heated meeting with the President.

PELOSI: What we witnessed on the part of the President was a meltdown.

KOTB: The back and forth now taking center stage.

(...)

8:02 AM ET

GUTHRIE: A White House meeting over the President’s Syria troop withdrawal descended into name calling last night. NBC White House correspondent Peter Alexander has the latest on all of it. Peter, good morning.

ALEXANDER: Hey, Savannah, good morning to you. With this crisis in Syria escalating, there is new turmoil here in Washington. In a sharp rebuke, more than 100 House Republicans joined Democrats, voting to condemn President Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of that region. Then immediately afterward, a meeting here at the White House deteriorated into finger pointing and into name calling before the Democrats marched out. The White House posting a photo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi standing in a room full of men, challenging the President. You can see it there. Pelosi saying the President had a meltdown, the President saying it’s Pelosi who had a, quote, “total meltdown.”

(...)

Here is a transcript of the coverage on ABC’s GMA:

7:00 AM ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: As we join you on this busy Thursday morning, chaos and confrontation in Washington and the Middle East after the President’s pullout from Syria.

White House walkout. Top Democrats leave a tense meeting with the President over Syria.

NANCY PELOSI: What we witnessed on the part of the President was a meltdown.

(...)

7:02 AM ET

STEPHANOPOULOS: We begin with the crisis surrounding President Trump and Syria. With the Republicans joining Democrats to condemn the President’s policy, Trump lashed out in a tense White House meeting that descended into name-calling. Prompting a walkout from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called the President’s performance a meltdown. Our senior national correspondent Terry Moran starts us off from the White House. And, Terry, it was President Trump’s 1,000th day in office and it was a head spinner.

TERRY MORAN: It surely was, George.

(...)

7:03 AM ET

PELOSI: What we witnessed on the part of the President was a meltdown, sad to say.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: He was insulting, particularly to the Speaker. She kept her cool completely but he called her a third-rate politician.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: White House Walkout; War of Words After Top Democrats’ Tense Meeting With Trump]

MORAN: Overnight, after Democratic leaders criticized President Trump’s behavior during a White House closed-door meeting on Syria, the President tweeted out these photos, sitting with stone-faced Democrats and asking, “Do you think they like me?” And labeling this one of Speaker Pelosi pointing at him across the table, “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” Speaker Pelosi seeing it differently, responding by making that picture her background on Twitter. All this comes after another contentious day for the President.

(...)

8:00 AM ET

STEPHANOPOULOS: White House walkout after the President lashed out in a tense meeting about Syria that descended into name calling. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls the President’s performance a meltdown.

(...)

8:02 AM ET

STEPHANOPOULOS: We have a lot of news to get to this morning as well, starting with the crisis surrounding President Trump and Syria. Republicans have joined Democrats to rebuke the President’s policy and the President’s now lashing out. He lashed out in a White House meeting, causing a walkout by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Want to go back to our senior national correspondent Terry Moran. He’s got the latest. Terry?

TERRY MORAN: Well, good morning, George. It’s getting nasty here, as you say, even worse than usual. The President really just lashing out at Democrats. President Trump facing the strongest bipartisan opposition of his presidency for his decision to abandon America’s Kurdish allies and stand aside while Turkey invades. A huge bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives voting to condemn the President’s decision.

And then, that scene last night here at the White House. Democratic leaders arriving for a meeting with the President, which quickly turned into a free for all. The President tearing into them, lashing out at Speaker Pelosi, Pelosi walking out and coming out to claim that the President had a meltdown. The President then responding late into the night on Twitter, saying it was Nancy Pelosi who melted down, not him. And all this bickering and name-calling happening while the humanitarian and strategic catastrophe continues to unfold in Syria. So this is just another day at the White House, but a day of crisis around the world.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sure is a chaotic situation.

(...)

Here is a transcript of the coverage on CBS This Morning:

7:00 AM ET

ANTHONY MASON: Meltdown. President Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi face off in an explosive meeting over Syria at the White House.

7:07 AM ET

ANTHONY MASON: The first face-to-face meeting between President Trump and top Democrats since the impeachment inquiry began did not go smoothly. The Democrats walked out yesterday claiming the President insulted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a briefing for congressional leaders on the deteriorating military situation in Syria. The President tweeted this photo from the meeting showing a moment of confrontation between the Speaker and the President. Weijia Jiang is at the White House. What triggered the blowup?

WEIJIA JANG: Well, good morning, Anthony. Democrats say President Trump lost his cool and was visibly shaken up because the House overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning his decision to pull those U.S. troops out of Syria. The White House is painting a very different picture and blamed Democratic leaders for leaving early so they could come out here and whine to the press instead of working with their colleagues. Democratic leaders say they stormed out of the White House after President Trump pounced on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: When he started calling speaker Pelosi a third-rate politician --

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI: Which I said, “I wish you were a politician, Mr. President.”

REP. STENY HOYER: Never have I seen a president treat so disrespectfully a co-equal branch of the government of the United States.

PELOSI: What we witnessed on the part of the President was a meltdown. Sad to say.

JANG: Democrats say the President called out “See you at the polls” as they walked out. Republicans said Pelosi warned the President to “watch what we do.” After the meeting, Mr. Trump tweeted a photo of the confrontation with the caption “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown.” Seemingly unbothered, Pelosi responded by making the photograph the backgrounds shot of her Twitter profile.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY: She storms out of another meeting, trying to make it unproductive.

JANG: Lawmakers on both sides have slammed President Trump for pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, leaving Kurdish allies to fight the Turkish military alone.

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: I want to express my gratitude to the Kurds. I'm sorry that we are where we are.

DONALD TRUMP: The Kurds are much safer. But the Kurds know how to fight.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: To suggest the Kurds are safer is delusional.

JANG: Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham repeatedly called it the biggest mistake of his
presidency.

GRAHAM: It will be to our shame and to our national security's detriment, and Trump will own the re-emergence of ISIS. If you think they're just coming after Europe and they don't represent a threat to the U.S., you're sadly mistaken.

JANG: The White House Press Secretary described President Trump as measured, factual, and decisive in the meeting. Democrats say they kept pressing him to hear what his plan is in Syria. He responded to keep Americans safe, to which they pointed out that is a goal, Tony, and not a plan.

TONY DOKOUPIL: All right. Strong words there from Lindsey Graham. Weijia, thank you.

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