NBC Touts GOP Campaigns Hitting 'Sour Note' For Using Liberals' Music

Wednesday's NBC Nightly News followed the example of CBS the previous evening in spotlighting the latest Republican presidential candidate to get in trouble with a liberal musician for using their music at a campaign event. Peter Alexander zeroed in on how "just hours after [Donald] Trump tried to cast himself as a winner, Queen complained the billionaire used the song 'against our wishes.'" He also cited how "George W. Bush had to 'back down,' after receiving a cease and desist letter from Tom Petty." [video below]

Anchor Lester Holt led into Alexander's report by noting that "sometimes, a song fits with a candidate in perfect harmony. But for the artist, it's not always music to their ears." The correspondent first spotlighted the current campaign music from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's rallies: "Hillary Clinton's come out swinging, with the help of pop stars Rachel Platten and Katy Perry. Donald Trump routinely revs up crowds with the Stones." He featured Rock and Roll Hall of Fame CEO Greg Harris, who claimed that "rock and roll musicians are some of the greatest idealists on the planet. They believe in three cords and the truth."

After noting past campaign music, including "Kid Rock collaborating with Mitt Romney" and "America's first rock and roll president, Bill Clinton, invigorating Baby Boomers with Fleetwood Mac," Alexander detailed how "campaigns can also hit a sour note." He continued his Trump and George W. Bush examples.

Near the end of the segment, the NBC journalist underlined, "A candidate's challenge: striking the right cord." He played one final soundbite from Harris, who touted the supposed influence of pop stars: "Let's face it: we admire these people. And if they say, hey, I believe in this, we're likely to believe in it, too."

The full transcript of Peter Alexander's report from NBC Nightly News on July 20, 2016:

Tell the Truth 2016

LESTER HOLT: Finally tonight, those tunes you hear on the campaign trail — sometimes, a song fits with a candidate in perfect harmony. But for the artist, it's not always music to their ears.

NBC's Peter Alexander turns up the volume.

[NBC News Graphic: "Campaigns Mix Politics & Pop Music"]

PETER ALEXANDER (voice-over): (clip of Ian Hunter's "Cleveland Rocks") If Cleveland rocks, it's often music that rolls presidential campaigns into each November election. (clip of Rachel Platten's "Fight Song" from Hillary Clinton campaign event) Hillary Clinton's come out swinging, with the help of pop stars Rachel Platten and Katy Perry. (clip of Katy Perry's "Roar" from Hillary Clinton campaign event) (clip of Rolling Stones's "Start Me Up" from Donald Trump campaign event) Donald Trump routinely revs up crowds with the Stones. For a campaign, music can create a mood and a tone. (clip of will.i.am's "Yes We Can")

ALEXANDER (on-camera): What is it that's so powerful about music, as it intersects with politics?

GREG HARRIS, ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME CEO & PRESIDENT: You know, music is always pushing the envelope. It's calling for change. It's calling to inspire people. And politics is — is also doing that — to inspire people and to connect with them.

ALEXANDER (voice-over): The power of music is now on display at Cleveland's celebrated Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — the exhibit: 'Louder Than Words'.

HARRIS: Rock and roll musicians are some of the greatest idealists on the planet. They believe in three cords and the truth.

ALEXANDER: For years, politicians relied on originals. (clips of "Ike For President," Frank Sinatra's "High Hopes" for JFK, and "Nixon's The One") These days, the most memorable anthems are off the shelf — (clip of Kid Rock's "Born Free" from Mitt Romney campaign event) Kid Rock collaborating with Mitt Romney — (clip of Bill Clinton playing the saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show) America's first rock and roll president, Bill Clinton, invigorating Baby Boomers with Fleetwood Mac. (clip of Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" from Bill Clinton campaign event)

But campaigns can also hit a sour note. Earlier this week, just hours after Trump tried to cast himself as a winner, (clip of Queen's "We Are The Champions" from Republican National Convention) Queen complained the billionaire used the song 'against our wishes.'  (clip of Tom Petty and Heartbreakers's "I Won't Back Down") George W. Bush had to 'back down,' after receiving a cease and desist letter from Tom Petty. (clip of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" from Hillary Clinton campaign event) A candidate's challenge: striking the right cord.

HARRISL Let's face it: we admire these people. And if they say, hey, I believe in this, we're likely to believe in it, too. (clip of Ian Hunter's "Cleveland Rocks")

ALEXANDER: Peter Alexander, NBC News, Cleveland.

NB Daily Convention Watch Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Culture/Society 2016 Republican Convention Labeling Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats NBC NBC Nightly News Video George W. Bush Peter Alexander Hillary Clinton Donald Trump
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