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Notes from the January 9, 2011 broadcast of Meet The Press

January 9, 2011

Today’s broadcast was obviously not what the producers and David Gregory had planned just 24 hours earlier.

Meet The Press has gotten into the a bad habit of pre-taping interviews days in advance of the Sunday morning program. Real world events have sometimes overtaken what was discussed in those interviews, but nothing like what happened this weekend.

On Friday, Gregory interviewed Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). The next day, as we know, a shooting rampage in Arizona left many dead (including a federal judge) and many wounded (including US Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford [D-AZ]). The MTP producers did a great job at re-arranging today’s broadcast to reflect a dramatically different tenor in Washington, DC. But it made the Reid interview irrelevant to the current moment. If Reid had been scheduled live, it would have made for a much different morning.

Today’s program started with an extended update from Arizona by NBC News’ Lester Holt. They then shifted to a roundtable featuring five members of Congress with various connections to Rep. Giffords. They were Rep. Paul Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), and Rep. Paul Labrador (R-ID).

Conservative Franks called the shooting an attack on humanity and referenced how Rep. Giffords read the 1st Amendment during the House of Representatives’ symbolic reading of the Constitution last week.

Gregory got a little choked up when he talked about the nine year old girl (born on 9/11/01) who was killed in the rampage. Cleaver says we are in a dark place and much of the toxic atmosphere is created in DC and exported to the rest of the country. He said that we in DC have to improve our level of civility.

Labrador, a brand new member who has not yet met Giffords, is a tea party candidate who says the vitriol is coming from both sides of the political aisle.

Cleaver thanked Speaker of the House John Boehner for delaying this week’s work in the House. He hopes members come back to DC with a different attitude. He said the attitude of “I am right, and you are evil,” is what is hurting this country.

Wasserman Schultz said we are all in this to make the country better. She noted that both parties will hold their regular retreats for Congressmembers in the next two weeks. She suggested the parties also do some kind of joint event in order to reinforce their mutual humanity and mutual goals.

Next up was the interview with Senator Harry Reid conducted the day before yesterday. He is opposed to the effort to repeal healthcare reform and in favor of creating jobs (big surprise). Gregory showed a 2006 quote where then-Senator Obama (with the agreement of Reid) opposed raising the debt ceiling. Now Reid says he agrees with Speaker Boehner that raising the ceiling is the “adult” thing to do.

On the Tea Party movement, Reid says it will disappear when the economy gets better… an assertion already attracting attention.

Today’s Meet The Press transcript will be here.

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