NBC failed to press Obama adviser David Axelrod over the President's
remarks about redistribution on Friday, chucking the story out of its
news cycle after two full days. In contrast, the networks hammered Mitt
Romney for three days over his comments on 47 percent of Americans who
don't pay income taxes.
The Today show did find time, however, to cover the "Honey Boo Boo" nickname generator. The reporters laughed on set over each other's "Honey Boo Boo" nicknames.
The "redistribution" tape exited the NBC news cycle after being overshadowed by the media firestorm over Romney's 47 percent comments. As the Media Research Center documented, the three networks gave 13 times more coverage to the Romney tape versus the video of Obama, and included it in over five times as many stories.
Anchor Savannah Guthrie also had time for a silly political question on both campaigns praising each other before the upcoming debates. "[B]oth campaigns really seem to be trying to outdo each other complimenting one another on their debating skills," she said before asking Axelrod, "I get the expectations setting that goes on with the debate. But what's going on here, David?"
"I'm just telling you the facts. I'm just reporting the facts like you do on the Today show," he ironically answered Guthrie when she remarked he seemed like he was trying to lower expectations for Obama.
Guthrie did press Axelrod over the President's Thursday remark about not being able to change Washington from the "inside," and followed up about his bruising interview with Univision. However, she did not challenge Axelrod on the President's statement that changing Washington from the "outside" was how ObamaCare was passed.
"You can only change it from the outside. That's how I got elected. That's how the big accomplishments like health care got done," Obama told Univision. However, even the liberal Ezra Klein argued that ObamaCare was an "inside" job.
"That's a rather revisionist take on how health care reform got done," Klein wrote in the Washington Post. The health care process, which I reported on extensively, was firmly an 'inside game' strategy."
A transcript of the interview, which aired on September 21 on Today at 7:06 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: David Axelrod is a senior adviser to President Obama's re-election campaign. David, good morning. Good to see you.
DAVID AXELROD, senior adviser, Obama Campaign: Good to see you, Savannah.
GUTHRIE: Let's talk about this remark by the President yesterday that you can't change Washington from the inside, you can only change it from the outside. Recognizing, I think, he was trying to say it's good to get the American people involved in the process. At the same time, is this a President who is acknowledging the limits of his own political ability?
AXELROD: Well, Savannah, you were in Washington, and you covered the presidency. You know this is not a new statement on his part. What he said is exactly what you said and he said it in his remarks yesterday. He said in order to move Washington and to move the Congress, you have to enlist the American people, and that's a lesson that he's learned over these four years. You know, that was the lesson he learned from the standoff on the -- on the debt ceiling last summer, and he's been making that point consistently. The fact that Governor Romney picked up on it and attacked him on it is just one more example of how he's just cascading from one gratuitous attack to another, and – instead of talking about solutions to the problems we face.
GUTHRIE: Let's talk about immigration, because at that forum yesterday the President was pressed pretty toughly by one of the moderators. He said I did not make a promise that I would get everything done 100 percent when I was elected as President, when asked why there wasn't immigration reform in the first term. But here is President Obama in 2008. Take a listen.
President BARACK OBAMA: We can't wait 20 years from now to do it. We can't wait 10 years from now to do it. We need to do it by the end of my first term as President of the United States of America.
And I will make it a top priority in my first year as President.
GUTHRIE: So, David, when the President says he didn't promise immigration reform as a priority, is he rewriting history a little bit there?
AXELROD: Well I don't think he said he didn't promise it as a priority. It was a priority, Savannah. I was in a room in 2009 at the White House where he called together all of those members of Congress who had supported immigration reform in the past, Republicans and Democrats, and he said let's lock arms and get this done.
GUTHRIE: But he didn't put forward a bill, right?
AXELROD: Every single Republican walked away because it became the policy of the Republican Party to walk away from immigration reform. So, you know, hopefully with the votes in November, people will say, okay, let's come back to the table and get this done, but the President did pass out of the House and out of the Senate a DREAM Act that was blocked by the minority of Republicans in the Senate on procedural grounds. He did move on the status of this DREAM Act kids, these kids who are here because their parents came here and through no fault of their own they got caught up on the immigration system. He did move on that, so there's no doubt he's exercised leadership. Now what we have to do is as he said, engage the American people and move this Congress along as well.
GUTHRIE: And finally, David, I just have to ask you about something I've noticed in this last week on the campaign trail. It is a hand-to-hand combat situation, and yet both campaigns really seem to be trying to outdo each other complimenting one another on their debating skills. Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokesperson said President Obama is the most gifted speaker in modern political history. It's hard to imagine anyone outscoring him in debate points. Jim Messina, the Obama campaign manager said of Romney, he's quick, polished and ready with a punchy attack again the President. I get the expectations setting that goes on with the debate. But what's going on here, David?
AXELROD: Well here's what we know, Savannah. We know that Governor Romney has been practicing for months. I think the invasion of Normandy took less preparation than he's putting into these debates, so I expect he's going to be prepared and ready and he's going to be strong in these debates and we have to be ready as well.
GUTHRIE: Sounds like you're trying to lower expectations for your guy.
AXELROD: No, no, I'm just telling you the facts. I'm just reporting the facts like you do on the Today show.