Opening NBC's Nightly News on Wednesday, anchor Brian Williams touted the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq as an Obama administration accomplishment while slamming the war effort itself: "The President promised they'd be out by New Year's Eve and here they come....The war started with the event somebody called 'shock and awe' and it became a tragic and prolonged slog."
In the report that followed, White House correspondent Kristen Welker announced: "Mr. Obama has opposed the war since his days as a state senator. And today he said it's harder to end a war than to begin one....The President, facing a tough re-election battle, did not declare victory in Iraq, but has called the withdrawal a campaign promise kept."
On Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer excitedly announced to viewers: "President Obama passed his latest physical with flying colors, one of the headlines coming out...the President is now tobacco free." White House correspondent Kristen Welker reported: "President Obama has never made a secret about his struggle to quit smoking....But it seems now it's a habit he may have finally put out."
Welker sympathetically noted: "Mr. Obama is tobacco free, that's a marked difference from last year's medical report...suggesting he was still in the process of giving up smoking. A long struggle which the President has openly discussed....smoking has dogged him since his days on the campaign trail."
On Thursday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Kristen Welker only managed to give 23 seconds to the State Department buying up $70,000 worth of President Obama's various books. However, on October 21, investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff offered a full report about Herman Cain's presidential campaign buying copies of the businessman's new book.
Isikoff portrayed the large purchase of Cain's book as a scandal and even a potential violation of campaign finance laws: "That means profits for Cain himself and could run afoul of campaign laws, say watchdog groups." In contrast, Welker described the Obama book buying in a single sentence, followed by a sound bite of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: "The White House didn't have anything to do with this..."
On Saturday's NBC Today, White House correspondent Kristen Welker fawned over President Obama's 10-day excursion to Martha's Vineyard, declaring: "...his first public outing...A bookstore in Vineyard Haven where he, Malia, and Sasha bought eight books." A crowd outside the store could be heard chanting: "Four more years! Four more years!"
Welker noted how "no cameras were allowed when the President played golf." Though she was happy to report that "NBC News did capture him for a few brief moments from afar. Taking some shots, and doing a quick golf cart drive-by."
Filling in for Andrea Mitchell during Thursday's 1 p.m. ET hour on MSNBC, Savannah Guthrie talked to correspondent Kristen Welker about President Obama's vacation plans: "Kristen, do you have any idea what he and the First Family plan to do while they're spending this time on Martha's Vineyard? I'm going to venture a guess there will be golf and ice cream, if past vacations are any indication."
Welker enthused: "I think you're absolutely right about that, Savannah. I think there's going to be golf, I think there's going to be ice cream. We've passed some really good-looking cupcake shops as well. So I bet there are going to be some cupcakes and some swimming time with his family."
On Tuesday's NBC Today, correspondent Kristen Welker portrayed President Obama as the great compromiser while reporting on his Monday night address on the debt ceiling: "...the President still pushed for a balanced approach, cut spending and raise tax revenue....With time running out, the President called for compromise."
In contrast, Welker depicted House Speaker John Boehner as stubborn and unwilling to deal: "Boehner seemed to reject all talk of compromise, backing a House GOP plan....Earlier, the President did endorse a plan put forward by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid....But Boehner said that's not the answer."
When ABC and NBC interview First Ladies, both the tone and substance of the discussion tend to hinge on whether the husband is an Obama or a Bush.
On Wednesday's ABC "World News" and NBC "Nightly News," network correspondents sat down with Michelle Obama in South Africa for exclusive interviews in which they lobbed softball questions and avoided her husband's policies. But in interviews with Laura Bush in 2007 and 2010, ABC questioned the then-First Lady's Mideast trip and NBC re-litigated President Bush's response in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
ABC and NBC have delivered fawning coverage of First Lady Michelle Obama's visit this week to South Africa and Botswana, oozing over the "celebrity" and "excitement" of the "patented Michelle power" on display. To its credit, CBS has largely taken a pass on the idolatry.
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Imagine, if you will, that in 2003 Fox News brought on a disgraced Bush administration official who had been barred from Wall Street trading to talk up the president's economic policies. Imagine also that the anchor doing the interview failed to disclose that fact to viewers.
Well, that's pretty much what happened in the 2 p.m. Eastern hour of MSNBC coverage today, when anchor Thomas Roberts interviewed former Obama car czar Steven Rattner.
On Saturday, both ABC and NBC ran stories fretting over the Crossroads of the West Gun Show that was held over the weekend in Tucson, Arizona. On ABC, at one point, correspondent David Wright seemed surprised that the large number of people showing up at the event were customers instead of protesters. After relaying that some members of Congress want more gun control laws and cautioning viewers that they should not "hold your breath for them to pass," he continued: "If you wonder why, just check out the crowd at today's gun show. These aren't protesters, they're customers."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, correspondent Kristen Welker noted that it is legal to carry concealed weapons in Arizona, "just as Loughner did last Saturday," as if a person with homicidal intent would decide to obey a law against carrying concealing weapons:
KRISTEN WELKER: Guns are permissible almost anywhere in the state, including many public buildings, and it is legal for people to conceal those weapons and carry them around, just as Loughner did last Saturday.
PAUL HELMKE, BRADY COMMISSION PRESIDENT: Arizona is only the third state in the country to allow people to carry loaded, hidden guns without any permitting process at all.
On Tuesday's Today show, a couple of correspondents laid down the potential story line of a big defeat for Sarah Palin if the Republican Tea Party candidate she endorsed, Joe Miller, doesn't win his bid for the Senate seat in Alaska as NBC's Chuck Todd proclaimed: "Sarah Palin's political future is a little bit on the line" and added "this would be a big embarrassment," while NBC's Kristen Welker declared: "the race is also a referendum on Sarah Palin." Welker also featured a sound bite from a political analyst noting a Miller defeat would mean a "black eye" for the former Alaska Governor. Of course the question has to be asked, if Miller defeats write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, will Todd and Welker go the other way and admit it was a huge win for Palin and the Tea Party?
During a preview of the key races on Election Day, Today co-anchor Matt Lauer asked political director Chuck Todd for his take on the Alaska Senate race, as seen in the following exchange:
On Monday, while both ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today covered the scandal involving reporters at CBS Anchorage affiliate KTVA caught on tape discussing ways to attack Republican Joe Miller's senate campaign, CBS's Early Show failed to make any mention of the incident.
On Good Morning America, White House correspondent Jake Tapper reported: "In Alaska, some reporters with the local CBS affiliate at a rally for Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller accidently left a message on the voice mail of Miller's spokesman." An audio clip of the voice mail played: "You know that of all the people that will show up tonight at least one of them will be a registered sex offender. We need to find that one person." Tapper followed with a clip of Sarah Palin condemning the comments on Fox News Sunday: "Those are corrupt bastards, Chris. That's what's wrong with the media today."