Nets Scorn Trump’s Double Down on Threats to North Korea

In two separate addresses to the press on Thursday, President Trump doubled and tripled down on his powerful threats to North Korea. After denouncing the President’s original tough warning of “fire and fury” on Tuesday, the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) were equally bitter with him after he told them that “if anything maybe that statement wasn't tough enough.” So during their evening news casts on Thursday, they sounded off as they chided the President for taking a stand.

On NBC Nightly News, Anchor Lester Holt went low and immediately used the island of Guam as a weapon to strike Trump. “President Trump fired off another round of vague but ominous sounding threats at North Korea this afternoon,” he claimed as he began the show. “In his latest verbal salvo, the President seemed to paint another red line, this time over Guam, the U.S. island North Korea threatens to bracket with missile strikes.

As that war of words plays out between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, suddenly caught in the middle are 160,000 Americans living and working on the U.S. territory Guam,” added Holt as he led into the network’s second of three stories on the North Korea situation.

And during one of NBC’s reports, White House Correspondent Kristen Welker seemed to think it was unfair that Trump would lay blame for the North’s nuclear proliferation on previous presidents. “The President also lashed out at his predecessors calling them “ineffective,” and acknowledging a new round of sanctions might not be enough to solve the problem,” she reported.

CBS National Security Correspondent David Martin used his leading segment on CBS Evening News to knock the Commander-In-Chief, suggesting he prioritized North Korean statements too high when compared to their nuclear weapons. “And speaking to reporters for a second time this afternoon, the President seemed as upset by some of the things Kim Jong-un and his spokesmen have said as he is about the regime's nuclear weapons program,” Martin quipped.

After Martin’s report, Anchor Anthony Mason brought on Obama’s Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell to criticizes the sitting President. “Anthony, I think the President's statements of the last two days are reckless,” Morell asserted. According to him, Trump was playing “a dangerous” game of “dare-double dare.”

At a time when he should be trying to maximize policy options, he's narrowing them,” Morell continued, noting Obama’s red line blunder and the limiting of options. “So I don't think the statements are helpful to U.S. interests.

On a side note, Mason did not introduce Morell as Obama’s deputy CIA director. He left out the part about which president he worked for.

Meanwhile, on ABC’s World News Tonight, Senior White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega touted the North Korean’s anti-U.S. marches in defiance of warnings. “In North Korea, marching in the street. The country rallying as it issued that threat to strike the U.S. territory of Guam,” she highlighted for viewers.

These reports on the latest confrontation with the communist regime were more than just relaying what was going on to the public. They’re active attempts to undermine an administration that’s working to avoid all-out war. That is clear since they tout polls purporting to show the public’s unease with the White House on the subject.

Transcripts below:

<<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>

NBC Nightly News
August 10, 2017
7:01:31 PM Eastern

LESTER HOLT: President Trump fired off another round of vague but ominous sounding threats at North Korea this afternoon. In his latest verbal salvo, the President seemed to paint another red line, this time over Guam, the U.S. island North Korea threatens to bracket with missile strikes.

DONALD TRUMP: Let's see what he does with Guam. If he does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody's seen before what will happen in North Korea.

HOLT: The President's comments came during what is the closest thing we’ve seen to a full-fledged presidential news conference in months. Mr. Trump seemingly eager to sound off on everything from the Russia investigation to the opioid crisis, which he called a national emergency. We have it all covered but let's start with the crisis in North Korea and NBC News White House Correspondent Kristen Welker.

[Cuts to video]

KRISTEN WELKER: A defiant President Trump escalating his war of words with North Korea. Digging in on his threat of fire and fury.

TRUMP: If anything maybe that statement wasn't tough enough.

WELKER: The President also lashed out at his predecessors calling them “ineffective,” and acknowledging a new round of sanctions might not be enough to solve the problem, even denying internal discord when it comes to communications in his administration.

7:04:35 PM Eastern

HOLT: As that war of words plays out between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, suddenly caught in the middle are 160,000 Americans living and working on the U.S. territory Guam. A U.S. military stronghold and an island within striking distance of North Korea. Our team has made its way to Guam tonight, where residents are on edge as NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

Sign Up for MRC Newsletters!

CBS Evening News
August 10, 2017
6:31:17 PM Eastern

ANTHONY MASON: Good evening. I'm Anthony Mason. President Trump today defended his "fire and fury" warning to North Korea, saying “it's time somebody stuck up for the people of America.” In fact, he said, he might not have been tough enough. So he got tougher today, saying that if the North Koreans even think about launching an attack, quote: "Things will happen to them like they never thought possible." And the North has been thinking about an attack on Guam, the U.S. territory in the western Pacific where about 160,000 people live. We begin tonight with National Security Correspondent David Martin.

DAVID MARTIN: North Korea has already denounced his earlier "fire and fury" statement as “a load of nonsense.” And speaking to reporters for a second time this afternoon, the President seemed as upset by some of the things Kim Jong-un and his spokesmen have said as he is about the regime's nuclear weapons program.

6:35:38 PM Eastern

MASON: Michael Morell is a former deputy director of the CIA, and now our CBS News senior security contributor. He joins us from Tokyo. Michael, the President said his "fire and fury" warning wasn't tough enough. From your vantage point in Tokyo, what do you think?

MICHAEL MORELL: Anthony, I think the President's statements of the last two days are reckless, and I think they're reckless for two reasons. One is that Kim Jong-un has been shown to be provokable, and so this playground game of "Dare-double dare" is dangerous.

The second reason that-- is that statements such as this boxes the President in from a policy perspective. At a time when he should be trying to maximize policy options, he's narrowing them. He's at risk of making the same mistake here that President Obama made on the Syria red line. So I don't think the statements are helpful to U.S. interests.

MASON: At the same time, secretary of state Tillerson appears to be trying to calm things down. Are mixed signals damaging U.S. credibility, though?

MORELL: Anthony, clarity in foreign policy is one of the keys to success. And right now, we have three voices. We have the President's very tough rhetoric that's being read as possible U.S. preemptive action. You've got secretary Tillerson's statements, which walk back significantly. And then you've got Secretary of Defense Mattis' statements that are tough but they talk about a U.S. response to a first step by North Korea. One of the great frustrations here in east Asia is they don't know what U.S. policy is, and they're asking, "What is U.S. Strategy?"

MASON: Michael Morell in Tokyo. Thanks very much for being with us.

CyberAlerts Foreign Policy North Korea Labeling Military ABC World News CBS CBS Evening News NBC NBC Nightly News Video Michael Morell Lester Holt Kristen Welker David Martin Anthony Mason Cecilia Vega Donald Trump