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Notes on the March 3, 2013 Broadcast of Meet The Press

March 3, 2013

All Rights NBC NewsThis morning’s Meet the Press featured an exclusive interview with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH). Unfortunately, the interview was taped Friday afternoon and could not take into account any of the developments over the last 36 hours. The interview felt like old news.

The Speaker repeated that the House has acted twice, the president has already received his tax cuts, and they now need to act on spending cuts. Host David Gregory maintained that the revenue issue now circles around closing tax loopholes, but Boehner appeared unconvinced. He said he wants tax reform, but he also wants tax rates to come down overall.

“He got his tax cuts. Now it’s time to cut spending, and every American knows it,” said Speaker Boehner. He repeated variations of this theme three or four times. He also said more than once that if Democrats were serious about the spending cuts being discussed, then the Senate would pass a bill.

Boehner said the House will pass a “continuing resolution” to keep the government open through September. But there is still a sense of uncertainty about how this will impact the cuts imposed by sequester.

The latest tempest in the Washington, DC teapot to draw attention to how silly the capital can be is the controversy over famed Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward’s email exchange with National Economic Council head Gene Sperling. Speaker Boehner weighed in saying, “I think that Bob Woodward was right,” in pointing out that the sequester was President Obama’s idea.

In an odd moment at the end of the interview, Gregory reviewed his own work and declared that he asked “tough questions” of the Speaker and thanked him for his answers.

Back to the Woodward controversy, next up was Gene Sperling. It was Sperling who engaged in a mild-mannered exchange with Bob Woodward declaring that he might regret linking President Obama to the sequester idea. Woodward later told a television network that he felt threatened by Sperling, then later it seemed like Woodward was denying saying anything like that. Why anyone should care is still unexplained. But this and many other Sunday morning talk shows spent a lot of time discussing something I think should be named (with ultimate irony) “Woodward-gate.”

Sperling had a list of the President’s principles for a budget deal. Gregory asked why hasn’t the Senate hasn’t passed a deal including those principles. Sperling logically replied that the Senate requires 60 votes for any such measure, a point Gregory did not raise in his “tough questions” with Speaker Boehner.

When asked if the president exaggerated the impact of the sequester, Sperling said, “No, not at all.” Back on Woodward-gate, Gregory actually did ask Sperling very tough questions on where the sequester idea came from. Let’s see that same fire on matters of real importance.

In the roundtable, NBC’s Chuck Todd speculated that there might be a silent majority in Congress saying that sequester may be brutal, but it may be the only way to get real spending cuts in today’s Washington, DC.

NBC’s Tom Brokaw chimed in on Woodward-gate blaming the media for blowing this “speck into a sandstorm.” Later, Brokaw spoke the truth when he said, “The country does not care about this.”

Finally, I was almost ready to praise Meet The Press for not mentioning the Dennis Rodman trip to North Korea. But then, at the very last moment, Gregory promoted Rodman’s appearance tomorrow morning on the Today Show.

Today’s Meet The Press transcript will be here.

Also follow the show on the MTP Facebook page, track Twitter feeds from host David Gregory, Meet The Press, and Executive Producer Betsy Fischer, watch the midweek PressPass interview, and don’t forget Gregory’s blog.

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