NBC’s Most Well-Spoken Democratic Party Policy Pusher Departs Network

March 29th, 2024 12:42 PM

The cast of NBC’s Today were in tears Friday as they bid human interest reporter (and former longtime CBS anchor) Harry Smith a fond farewell as he would be leaving the network to teach a college course and write books; essentially retiring from journalism. But we at NewsBusters know Smith as more than just the buttery smooth voice that shared tales of human experiences. Throughout his stop at NBC, he’s used that voice to promote, sell, and spin the policy proposals of the Democratic Party to millions of Americans.

“I have nothing but gratitude. Every time I would come on this show I was always welcomed so generously, so generously, I've had just this unbelievable array of phenomenal experiences since coming to NBC and so I'm really full of nothing but gratitude,” Smith told the Today co-hosts. As for his plans for the future, he said he would be returning to his alma mater, Central College Iowa to teach a course on “curiosity.”

But when it came to reporting on politics, Smith seemed to be exclusively curious about what was going on with Democrats.

As NewsBusters reported during the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, specifically the Democratic primary, Smith helmed two complimentary and exhaustive series that were designed to present the policies of the Democratic candidates in a way that didn’t stoke contention between them, nor promote pushback or alternative Republican proposals: “My Big Idea” and “What Matters.”

Smith used it as a way to make the wide Democratic field palpable to the audience and increase their chances of unseating then-President Trump. It was a concerted effort that was not repeated when a large Republican field was competing to unseat President Biden.

NBC kicked off their Democratic campaigning in June of 2019 with their so-called “My Big Idea” series, giving themselves plenty of time to highlight and showcase the breadth of the Democratic field long before primary voters were cast. “And tonight, we're launching a series with our Harry Smith to let candidates tell you the idea they say separates them from the vast field of contenders. We're calling it ‘My Big Idea,’” NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt boasted at the time.

The network dedicated a segment to every major Democratic candidate in the race, even those who didn’t stand a chance. They started with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-NH), then-California Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, Governor Jay Inslee (WA), Senator Cory Booker (NY), former congressman Beto O’Rourke (TX), Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA), businessman Andrew Yang, Governor Steve Bullock (MT), and Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN).

Conveniently, Smith managed to cram all of those reports into a two-week time frame leading up to the first Democratic debate. And he pulled it off again with the partner series “What Matters,” where Smith sat down with the remaining candidates to discuss “what matters” to Democratic voters ahead of the second Democratic Party debate; conveniently hosted by NBC News.

Beyond his work for Democrats during the 2020 election cycle, Smith was one of the liberal media folks in 2007 who praised Al Gore’s global-warming-alarmist film An Inconvenient Truth; he even tried to pin a campaign button on Gore during an interview. In 2008, Smith was so excited that then-candidate Obama got the coveted endorsement from the Kennedy family that he called him “the heir of Camelot.”

Smith moped when Obama left office, cited scripture to stick it to Republicans, decried “gun rights defenders,” and bashed Americans as uncaring during the pandemic.

While his NBC colleagues shed tears for his retirement, NewsBusters says good riddance.