Incredibly, In Prime Time Interview Brian Williams Treats Obama as a Victim of Bad Intelligence on Benghazi
Even after all the e-mails and information has come out over the past few weeks proving dissembling by President Obama himself and other administration officials on what they knew about the Benghazi attack and how their public pronouncements did not match reality, NBC’s Brian Williams, on Thursday’s Rock Center, treated President Obama as a victim of bad intelligence who is struggling to find the truth.
Incredible. The perfect definition of “in the tank.”
Williams spent a couple of days with Obama for campaign travelogue pieces which consumed the first 25 minutes of the prime time hour. In Colorado with Obama on Wednesday afternoon, Williams posed this obsequious question:
Have you been happy with the intelligence, especially in our post 9-11 world? The assessment of your intelligence community, as we stand here, is that it still was a spontaneous terrorist attack and were you happy with what you were able to learn as this unfolded? It went on for several hours.
Audio: MP3 clip
Quite a questionable assertion: “The assessment of your intelligence community, as we stand here, is that it still was a spontaneous terrorist attack.”
Williams betrayed his lack of interest in the unfolding scandal when he fretted at the top of the show: “The Libya story won’t go away.”
Williams failed to follow up on Obama’s answer on Benghazi, moving on the other topics, including whether he’s “verging on wistful” about the presidency and highlighting Obama’s Tonight Show retort to Donald Trump.
Thursday’s Rock Center segments included all the questions aired on Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News, as recounted in Kyle Drennen’s “NBC's Williams Can’t Understand Why Obama Isn’t Winning by a Landslide,” as well as two of the exchanges run on Thursday’s NBC Nightly News (not Colin Powell):
A night after NBC’s Brian Williams used a series of interview sessions with President Barack Obama to express bewilderment Obama is not running away with the presidential race, the anchor touted Colin Powell’s endorsement, pressed Obama from the left to go further in denouncing Republicans on abortion and cued up the President to decry the high level of campaign spending.
It was Williams’ “third interview with him in the past 24 hours” leading up to multiple segment on Thursday's Rock Center.
Two nights and a morning of excerpts and nothing yet about Benghazi – nor anything tough for Obama.
Williams began with a clip of Powell from CBS This Morning before he noted “Powell started off his endorsement, you saw there, with praise on the economy and health care.”
Following a response from Obama, Williams delivered a Democratic talking point about how “the subject of rape has been in the public discourse this campaign year unlike any time I can remember,” and “you’ve inserted a line in your speech...about women’s health.” But, he wanted to know in pushing for more: “Is that as far as you’re comfortable going for now?”
Then, without any recognition that it was Obama in 2008, before the Citizens United decision, who blew out the campaign spending limits adhered to by candidate from both parties since the 1970s, Williams presumed the electoral college and campaign spending need a “fix,” as he asked: “Which would you do most urgently if you had unlimited powers?”
Full eundown in a NewsBusters post.
From the October 25 Rock Center on NBC, picking up in Colorado following an October 24 rally:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Afterwards, with his armored motorcade creeping along behind us, we have another chance to talk and the talk turns to foreign policy.
WILLIAMS TO BARACK OBAMA: Mr. President, since we’ve been airborne, a person or persons of interest picked up in Tunisia in connection with Benghazi. The question becomes: Have you been happy with the intelligence, especially in our post 9-11 world? The assessment of your intelligence community, as we stand here, is that it still was a spontaneous terrorist attack and were you happy with what you were able to learn as this unfolded? It went on for several hours.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, as I’ve said, Brian, we’re going to do a full investigation. Obviously, when four Americans are killed, you know, you have to do some soul searching in terms of making sure that all our systems are where they need to be. And that’s what we are going to find out. But what I’m confident about is that we will be able to figure out who perpetrated this act, that we’ll be able to bring them to justice and we are confident that we’ve got the cooperation of the Libyan government. We’re going to continue to make sure that we figure out what intelligence was coming in when, how was it gathered, how was it analyzed? And my expectation is that as a consequence, we’re going to be able to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.
WILLIAMS TO OBAMA: Why not visit Israel as President?
OBAMA: Well, you know, the truth of the matter is is that there are a number of countries I didn't visit. I visited Israel just a couple of months before I was President. And, you know, given how important, I think, the situation in the Middle East is and our partnership with Israel, which is stronger than it has ever been, when I go to Israel, I want to make sure that we are actually moving something forward.
WILLIAMS: Finally, what has happened to you in the course of this campaign? You’ve said more than once, this is your last campaign. Aides report you’ve been verging on wistful. Has it come up within your family, the possibly of a post-presidency as a young man?
OBAMA: You know, the truth of the matter is, in my family, what we’re thinking about is making sure Malia and Sasha are doing their homework. And, you know, we’re not spending a lot of time of thinking about a post-presidency. I intend to be President for another four years. You know, there will be plenty of time over the next four years to consider how I can be a productive citizen in a post-presidency.
WILLIAMS: From Denver, it’s off to L.A. and what’s become another campaign ritual, the late night comedy shows. Tonight, it is Jay Leno who asks about that Donald Trump dust-up and the President is clearly ready.
JAY LENO: What’s this thing with Trump and you? It is like me and Letterman. What’s he got against you? I don’t get it.
OBAMA: This all dates back to when we were growing up together in Kenya. [laughter]
-- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.