Fifty-four percent of respondents in a brand new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll believe that President Obama "can't lead, get the job done," contrasted with 42 percent who say he can. What's more, a healthy plurality, 41 percent, also answered that "the performance of the Obama administration" has "gotten worse" in the past 12 months. Yet the NBC Nightly News ignored those stunning numbers in its June 18 broadcast. [Anchor Brian Williams additionally failed to tease the poll in his opening preview of the night's stories.]
While chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd did touch on how "57 percent disapprove of the job he's doing on foreign policy," the poll received just 17 seconds of attention, buried in a story centered on blaming former Vice President Dick Cheney's with stoking yet another inside-the-Beltway partisan "blame game" over Iraq. The transcript of the segment follows:
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: At the White House today, the president held a meeting with congressional leaders in the Oval Office to talk about this crisis as former Vice President Dick Cheney unleashed a blistering criticism of this current president's foreign policy. Our political director, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd on the North Lawn with more on all of it tonight. Chuck, good evening.
CHUCK TODD, White House correspondent: Good evening, Brian. An important point regarding [Secretary of State John] Kerry. He is the strongest advocate, by the way, internally for a larger air strike effort. But I'm told military officials don't have the targets that would make a "shock and awe" style air attack feasible. Instead the most likely military option the president's considering is one he uses in Yemen, small targeted drone strikes. Meanwhile, as you noted about Cheney here in Washington, much of the day was spent playing the Iraq war blame game, should we have ever gone in, should we have stayed longer? And because of Dick Cheney, it escalated quickly.
TODD: With his daughter Liz by his side, former vice president dick Cheney went on the attack today on multiple platforms.
DICK CHENEY in recorded video: The policies of the last six years have left America diminished and weakened.
TODD: And in print, a blistering Wall Street Journal op-ed trying to pin the blame for the current Iraq chaos on president Obama. Writing, "Rarely has a U.S. President been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many."
In his final day as White House press secretary, Jay Carney turned the Cheney attack into a punch line.
JAY CARNEY, outgoing White House press secretary: Which president was he talking about?
[laughter from White House press corps]
TODD: Cheney's criticism was all the more galling to Democrats because it came from someone who helped sell the war publicly under false pretenses on the issue of weapons of mass destruction which were never found.
Sen. HARRY REID (D-Nevada), Majority Leader: There's one thing that this country does not need: it's that we should be taking advice from Dick Cheney on wars.
TODD: But Cheney wasn't alone in going after President Obama today. His 2008 Republican opponent John McCain, a long-time champion of the Iraq war, also got into the fray.
Sen. JOHN McCAIN (R-Arizona): The president's mishandling of Iraq for the past five years, his consistent inaction on Syria, have now brought us to the verge of disaster.
TODD: But while Washington engages in this blame game, the president may have bigger problems with the public as he ponders what to do in Iraq. Our new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows 57 percent disapprove of the job he's doing on foreign policy, a dubious record high for the president. And Brian, as for when the president will unveil his plan publicly, I'm told they know they need to get something in place by the weekend.
WILLIAMS: Chuck Todd, White House North Lawn tonight. Chuck, thanks.