Stacking the Deck: NBC 'Frames the Crisis’ Against President Trump

The evening after dueling addresses from President Trump and Democratic congressional leaders, NBC Nightly News’s Wednesday coverage of the government shutdown was distinctly stacked against the President. Anchor Lester Holt announced as much as he stood outside the Capitol and declared: “We have come here to frame the crisis rocking America. Not the one the President speaks of at the southern border, but the crisis of dysfunction here in Washington …” But NBC’s only focus was Trump.

After noting it was a “crisis around kitchen tables” for families of federal workers, Holt put the blame on the President since he walked out of a meeting after Democrats refused to negotiate on the wall. And for all of Holt’s talk about “the crisis of dysfunction here in Washington,” there was not one critical remark or soundbite about Democrats from non-politicians.

A day after the President's primetime appeal for border wall funding, his face-to-face meeting with Democratic leaders here ended in disappointment. The President walking out,” Holt bemoaned before suggesting the President’s support was crumbling. “And with cracks beginning to emerge of support from his own Republican Party, the President still holds a final card, declaring a national emergency.”

After a report on the sour meeting, Holt moved on to hyping moderate Republicans who were starting the break with Trump. “As the shutdown drags on tonight, there may be signs of cracks among Republican members of Congress, particularly among vulnerable senators up for re-election in 2020,” he noted before playing soundbites from his interview with Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins.

Following the soundbites came some hype for House Republicans allegedly breaking ranks. “Eight Republicans in the House breaking with the President. Voting to reopen the Treasury Department and the IRS today. As Americans start to expect their tax refunds,” reported congressional correspondent Kasie Hunt.

 

 

She concluded by opining: “The risk for the President is that he'll become increasingly isolated, and if anything, the events of today have just deepened the divisions and pushed us farther away from any end to this shutdown.” What about the risk for Democrats who were allowing the shutdown to drag on by refusing to accept Trump’s compromise on the wall because it would give him a win?

Up next was a segment about all the federal workers Trump was hurting with the shutdown. Correspondent Tom Costello’s highlight was a furloughed EPA worker, he also reported:

Among those working without pay, the very Secret Service agents protecting the president, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Marshals, ATF, DEA, most NASA employees, 14,000 air traffic controllers, and 51,000 TSA officers. All should receive back pay once the government reopens, though that could be awhile.

Of course, Holt rounded out their shutdown coverage by ranting about the President’s “credibility issues” and claimed (without presenting evidence) the address “repeated some misleading and false claims.

“And he is one of these rare presidents whose honesty and trustworthy rating is essentially underwater, more people view him saying he's more likely to be dishonest than honest on any given issue, particularly, for instance, Russia,” Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd chided.

Todd concluded by telling Holt: “Think of the boy who cried wolf. He's been crying wall, wall, wall, admitted that it's really a PR pitch, at times he's admitted it's a campaign pitch. And now he wants the country to take all of this very seriously. And I think that's why he ran into his own proverbial wall, if you will, here on Capitol Hill.

NBC ran six different reports about the government shutdown and each one of them portrayed the President in a critical light, while at the same time leaving Democrats without a scratch. As the Associated Press condescendingly tweeted following the address, “it takes two to tango.”

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

NBC Nightly News
January 9, 2019
7:01 p.m. Eastern

LESTER HOLT: Good evening. We have come here to frame the crisis rocking America. Not the one the President speaks of at the southern border, but the crisis of dysfunction here in Washington that has ground so much of the government to a halt. And the crisis around kitchen tables where families try to figure out what they'll do come Friday when the government paycheck doesn't arrive.

A day after the President's primetime appeal for border wall funding, his face-to-face meeting with Democratic leaders here ended in disappointment. The President walking out. And with cracks beginning to emerge of support from his own Republican Party, the President still holds a final card, declaring a national emergency. Let's get more on that extraordinary meeting and all the day's developments from NBC's Hallie Jackson, now, good evening.

(…)

7:06 p.m. Eastern

HOLT: As the shutdown drags on tonight, there may be signs of cracks among Republican members of Congress, particularly among vulnerable senators up for re-election in 2020. A short time ago, I spoke with Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine who says the government should be reopened even without a border wall deal.

[Cuts to video]

You heard, of course, that the President walked out of a meeting with Democratic leaders today. What does that signal to you?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS: Well, it makes me very worried about whether we're going to be able to get to a compromise this week. I'm worried about what the end game is. This cannot be allowed to go on forever.

(…)

HOLT: And it's not just the Senate. Late today, in the House, new signs of Republicans getting restless. Let's get details from NBC's Kasie Hunt.

[Cuts to video]

KASIE HUNT: How long are you willing to let the shutdown last, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Whatever it takes.

HUNT: President trump trying to strengthen his own party's resolve with dissension in the ranks.

(…)

HUNT: Eight Republicans in the House breaking with the president. Voting to reopen the Treasury Department and the IRS today. As Americans start to expect their tax refunds. And at least four Republican Senators are uneasy, urging the President to reopen the government. And then argue about the wall.

(…)

HUNT: Senator Lisa Murkowski told reporters she confronted President Trump directly during the closed-door meeting.

(…)

HUNT: So far the President still has his defenders.

(…)

HUNT: The question now, whether Republicans will stand by the President or if the cracks will grow as the shutdown drags on.

[Cuts back to live]

The risk for the President is that he'll become increasingly isolated, and if anything, the events of today have just deepened the divisions and pushed us farther away from any end to this shutdown.

(…)

7:08 p.m. Eastern

HOLT: That is the view from here. But for millions of Americans, the shutdown is far more than a political fight in Washington. As Tom Costello reports, paychecks are 48 hours from being cut off.

[Cuts to video]

TOM COSTELLO: Among those working without pay, the very Secret Service agents protecting the president, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Marshals, ATF, DEA, most NASA employees, 14,000 air traffic controllers, and 51,000 TSA officers. All should receive back pay once the government reopens, though that could be awhile.

(…)

7:10 p.m. Eastern

HOLT: Fact-checking became the phrase of the day in the lead up to the President's remarks last night, in which he repeated some misleading and false claims. Let's bring in Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd. Chuck, did the President's credibility issues make it harder for him to sell this wall?

CHUCK TODD: I think that's absolutely the case. You know, we've been checking his honesty and trustworthiness in polling really since he became President. And he is one of these rare presidents whose honesty and trustworthy rating is essentially underwater, more people view him saying he's more likely to be dishonest than honest on any given issue, particularly for instance, Russia. So, he has this credibility issue. And the problem with the wall, Lester, is that he has used it -- think of the boy who cried wolf. He's been crying wall, wall, wall, admitted that it's really a PR pitch, at times he's admitted it's a campaign pitch. And now he wants the country to take all of this very seriously. And I think that's why he ran into his own proverbial wall, if you will, here on Capitol Hill.


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NBDaily Events Government shutdown Immigration Bias by Omission Double Standards Political Groups Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Broadcast Television NBC NBC Nightly News Video Lester Holt Kasie Hunt Tom Costello Chuck Todd Donald Trump