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Notes on the June 16, 2013 Broadcast of Meet The Press

June 16, 2013

All Rights NBC NewsThis morning’s Meet the Press began with host David Gregory asking Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “What is our goal in Syria?” Graham responded, “I really don’t know.”

Later Graham said our goal in Syria should be balancing the military power “…and small arms won’t do it. So we need to create a no-fly zone.”  Graham says we need a political solution which involves having President Bashar al-Assad leave Syria.

Graham warns that Syria is “a powder keg for the region.” He added, “The whole region is about to blow up.” Even more ominously, Graham says “…if the war lasts six more months Jordan’s going to go,” and “the King of Jordan is going to become toast.”

David Ignatius of the Washington Post said our goal should be to build up the moderate opposition in Syria. He said that it would be bad if Assad left today because right now the jihadists are the most powerful, and they would take over in Assad’s absence.

Andrea Mitchell of NBC News added that one of the biggest problems for the Obama Administration is that Russia has categorically denied that chemical weapons have been used in Syria and the United Nations Secretary-General has agreed with Russia. “They are challenging the American intelligence, and frankly, after the last decade, US intelligence on weapons of mass destruction doesn’t have a lot of credibility around the world,” said Mitchell.

Graham acknowledged that if the Assad government falls there will be another battle over who takes control. He said the average Syrian does not want to replace Assad with Al Qaeda extremists.

Moving on to other topics, Graham ended by saying he has “never been more optimistic” about the chances for passing immigration reform. He predicted they will get 70+ votes in the Senate.

When asked who he thinks is the leading figure for the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination, he said that if we don’t pass immigration reform the Republican party will continue it’s “demographic death spiral” and it won’t matter who the party nominates.

Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said that if Edward Snowden is not a traitor he is very close to one and should be brought to justice. Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) said he’s not sure that collecting metadata on millions of Americans’ communications helps us, and it may violate the Fourth Amendment. Udall said he will introduce a bill that would limit the targets of this data collection to those that have a link to terrorist threats.

James Risen of the New York Times said this massive NSA surveillance program has created something new in American history. He added, “…if we had some kind of radical change in our politics,” the existence of this kind of infrastructure “…could lead to a police state.”

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.

Notes on the June 2, 2013 Broadcast of Meet The Press

June 2, 2013

All Rights NBC NewsThis morning’s Meet the Press began with a roundtable discussion about the status of the US Attorney General in a segment titled “Eric Holder in the Hot Seat.” Tom Friedman of the New York Times said, “Clearly redlines were crossed at the Department of Justice in effect criminalizing reporting.”

Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said the Attorney General has “lost the trust of the American people.” Then in classic overstatement she added, “I think it will take a generation to rebuild trust in the federal government.”

NBC’s Tom Brokaw restored some sanity to the conversation talking about both the responsibility of the press and the role of confidential documents in any administration. He ended by saying that it was tough to see how Attorney General Holder stays in the job. “I haven’t seen a single accusation which would prevent him from doing his job,” countered Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Senator Schumer predicted that the immigration reform bill will pass the Senate by July 4 and that it may get as many as 70 votes. The IRS scandal was discussed but no new ground was covered.

Next up, Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said, “The pattern of deception administration-wide is starting to become concerning.”

Later, after a “big think” conversation covering jobs, education, and infrastructure, Congresswoman Blackburn concluded, “The biggest impediment to job growth in this country right now is the implementation of Obamacare.”

Gregory allowed Tom Friedman a few moments to comment on Syria. He argued for focusing on the outcomes we want in Syria before deciding on the means. Friedman said that if you want a multi-ethnic democracy in Syria, then arming the rebels is not the path. Friedman seemed to be arguing for international peacekeepers on the ground in Syria.

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.

No Notes on May 19, 2013

May 19, 2013

It is graduation weekend here at If It’s Sunday headquarters, so no time for notes on Meet The Press this morning.

I did watch the broadcast, and the controversies around the IRS, Benghazi, and the AP records are certainly serious. However, attempts to connect them to the White House appear to be made of vapor and wishful thinking.

Notes on the May 12, 2013 Broadcast of Meet The Press

May 12, 2013

All Rights NBC NewsToday’s Meet the Press opened with Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) chair of the House committee re-investigating the September 11, 2012 attacks on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Issa opened with a dubious line, “Obviously this is an important issue to the American people,” and almost everything he said following that seems dubious. Host David Gregory tried to summarize the allegations Rep. Issa is putting forward. The congressman responded by saying, “David, we’re not making charges.”

To his credit, Gregory broke the sterile, lifeless format typical of Meet the Press’s opening segment by allowing an actual conversation to take place. While Gregory was interviewing Congressman Issa, the next guest, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, was sitting at the same table but not shown on camera. The plan was to talk to the men sequentially, not together. (I know. This is crazy, but that’s how Meet The Press does it.) The format broke down when Rep. Issa had finally said enough dubious things that Ambassador Pickering uttered the phrase, “That’s not true.”

At that point, the camera had to pull back to reveal that Ambassador Pickering had been sitting there the whole time. It was a weird moment, but it led to a real conversation.

(Note for readers who may be unaware, Ambassador Pickering, a career diplomat, may not be well-known outside Washington, DC, but he is almost universally considered one of the most credible, fair-minded people in the capital. He was chosen to lead the official investigation into the Benghazi attacks, an excellent choice.)

Ambassador Pickering then calmly walked through the findings of his report, answering all of the most serious questions Congressman Issa says he is investigating. The tension in the studio was apparent, even through the TV screen.

Later in the broadcast, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who acknowledged serious mistakes were made in Benghazi, said, “Every effort is being made to turn this into something diabolical, and I don’t see that.” Regarding Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) claim that Benghazi proves former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is unfit for higher office, Feinstein said, “That is nonsense.”

David Brooks of the New York Times had an interesting take on all of this. He reminded us that the attacked facility in Benghazi was actually run by the CIA. Brooks says the fight revealed in the relevant emails after the attack tells him that the CIA was trying to push blame from themselves onto the State Department. And the State Department pushed back. Hardly the Watergate level scandal alleged by some.

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.

Notes on the May 5, 2013 Broadcast of Meet the Press

May 5, 2013

I only have time for a quick summary of Meet The Press today, which works out well because there was surprisingly little that was new or newsworthy in the broadcast.

The broadcast opened with three guests: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AK), and former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA). Host David Gregory asked, do the Israeli strikes against Syria raise or lower the pressure on the United States to take military action in Syria?

All three panelists said some variation of “the United States should move toward arming pro-Western rebels in Syria.” Harmon added, “I wish we had acted sooner.”

The rest of the program broke no new ground on the economy, Guantanamo, Benghazi, abortion, or gay rights, even though they explored these issues so thoroughly that they ran out of time for a planned segment on 2016 presidential race developments.

Better luck next time.

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.

Notes on the April 28, 2013 Broadcast of Meet The Press

April 28, 2013

All Rights NBC NewsToday’s Meet the Press began with discussion of the so-called “red line” in Syria with Senator John McCain (R-AZ). McCain believes the red line (use of chemical weapons) has been crossed, but he said it should never have been created. He said that it gives Syrian President Bashir al-Asad an implicit green light to do everything short of the red line.

Later in the broadcast, NBC’s Chuck Todd said there is regret in the White House about ever using the “red line” phrase.

Senator McCain called for creating a no-fly zone in Syria and supplying resistance fighters with weapons. He also said we should be prepared with an international force to go in and secure potential chemical and biological weapons in Syria. However, he cautioned against US boots on the ground.

Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) said United States could play a greater role in dealing with the humanitarian problems surrounding the Syrian civil war. Later, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) echoed this concern. Congressman Peter King (R-NY) expressed concern the role Al Qaeda plays within the Syrian resistance. Later, Republican strategist Mike Murphy said, “good guy rebels may be hard-to-find.”

On terrorism threats in the United States, Rep. King said that we should pay more attention to the “Muslim community.” The use of the word community raised concerns for Rep. Ellison. Ellison said that we should “by all means” go after potentially dangerous people, but not entire communities. Ellison said we went after a community in World War II with Japanese internment.

Today’s broadcast also included a standalone interview, taped in Dallas at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Blair said today’s fight against radical Islam shares much in common with our 20th century fights against fascism and revolutionary communism.

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.

Notes on the April 21, 2013 Broadcast of Meet The Press

April 21, 2013

All Rights NBC NewsThis weeks Meet the Press began with Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA). Host David Gregory asked him, “Has the threat passed?” Gov. Patrick respond. “I think we think so.”

Patrick went on to say there are still a lot of questions to ask, but there is no basis for concern about another threat. He offered no new information on the surviving suspect or on the investigation. Patrick said he trusts the judgment of the US Attorney General to make the right decision on how to prosecute the suspect.

Next up was NBC’s Pete Williams, who is being praised for his great reporting during this crisis. Williams had no new information, but he said the big gap in our understanding is figuring out what the suspected older brother was doing in Russia during six months last year. Others on the panel agreed. Further discussion centered on whether or not the FBI “missed something” in the months and years before the bombing.

David Gregory asked if this event changes how we think about securing America. No fundamental shift in strategy is needed, according to former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) connected the case to upcoming Senate discussion of immigration reform. He made the case that a number of things in the proposed legislation will make America more secure.

Later, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin spoke eloquently about the impact of this incident on Boston. The Atlantic’s Jeff Goldberg said we are moving into an “era of the suspicious package” and the “era of CCTV.” Columnist Peggy Noonan added it is also the “era of everyone has a cell phone camera.”

Noonan said that when she first heard about the bombs in Boston, she feared they might contain radiological material, a so-called “dirty bomb.” NBC’s Tom Brokaw said we have to work a lot harder to figure out the motivation for these kind of attacks. And he connected it to the use of drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Noonan and Goodwin had a good conversation about the dysfunction in the US Senate that is keeping public sentiment from being reflected in national laws. Later Noonan said we in the media are encouraging mass hysteria around these incidents, and then we are convening panels like this to talk thoughtfully about the mass hysteria we helped create.

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.

Notes on the April 14, 2013 Broadcast of Meet The Press

April 14, 2013

All Rights NBC NewsThis morning’s Meet the Press began with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) who is appearing on all seven Sunday talk shows this morning.

Rubio was vigorous in his support for a compromise immigration reform package he helped develop. He said the plan is both compassionate and responsible, and it allows undocumented workers to earn access to the legal immigration system. He said, “the status quo is horrible” for America. He also said his bill is a “starting point,” not a take it or leave it proposition.

On gun-control, Rubio repeated his opposition for all current gun-control proposals. He said, “We have violence problem in America,” not a gun problem, and he said no one is talking about that.

Rubio said he has no problem with the Obama administration’s responses to North Korean threats. He called again for a unified Korean peninsula. He also repeated his concerns about Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s recent trip to Cuba.

In the roundtable, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) said that he may be able to support bipartisan immigration reform proposals. However, Lee said he could not support the Manchin-Toomey compromise on gun control. He said it would do more to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens that it would to limit criminals. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) disagreed.

David Brooks of the New York Times said that Marco Rubio is a hero for his leadership on immigration reform. With all the talk of bipartisan bills on a number of issues floating around Washington DC, Brooks said it was almost possible this week to believe, “We live in a functioning democracy.”

Katy Kay of the BBC said she likes David Brooks’ observation. She fears, however, that once these proposals get out of the Senate and into the US House, the old dysfunction will reemerge.

In discussing the president’s budget proposal, host David Gregory mentioned Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR). Walden called for President Obama to do entitlement reform but, once the president released a plan for that reform, Walden denounced the President’s plan as a “shocking attack on seniors.” David Brooks called Walden’s performance, “opportunism on stilts.”

The program ended with a fascinating conversation about the movie “42” with Ken Burns, Harrison Ford, and Jackie Robinson’s widow, Rachel.

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.

Notes on the April 7, 2013 Broadcast of Meet The Press

April 7, 2013

All Rights NBC NewsThis mornings Meet the Press began with a discussion of rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the tolerance for North Korean threats is dropping every day in South Korea. He said, “I think the North Koreans are overplaying their hand.” He added that the Obama Administration has been performing well and acting responsibly in this situation.

Graham ultimately blames China for propping up what he calls a “crazy regime.”

On Syria, Graham said that King Abdullah of Jordan will be a casualty of the Syrian conflict if we don’t act soon. He also said the Syrian rebels need to publicly commit to securing all chemical weapons before we pledge more action to help them. (The comment about King Abdullah is disturbing, but it was ignored by host David Gregory who went straight back to the North Korea discussion.)

Former Governor and Ambassador Bill Richardson (D-NM) called for a new diplomatic track to engage North Korea. He said our goal should not just be calming the situation. We also need to get North Korea back to the negotiating table to discuss nuclear nonproliferation.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell said this crisis has to be solved through China and the best leverage we have there is the new Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

Moving on to the president’s new budget proposal, Graham said it is overall a bad plan for the country but there are nuggets in there he likes. He believes the president’s movement on chained CPI and Medicare reform are setting the stage for some kind of grand bargain. He said the president is “showing a little leg here.” In response Graham opened the door for possible new revenues.

Graham predicts that if we can fix immigration and do a grand bargain on the budget, America will dominate the 21st century.

He said the compromise on immigration can only happen if it includes both a path to citizenship and a guest worker program. He puts the odds at 70-30 that we will get there.

The next segment was devoted to whether or not former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will run for president. Republican strategist Mike Murphy said it’s like asking, “Do you think Dillinger might rob a bank? Yes!” Bill Richardson agreed saying there is a 100% chance Clinton will run. He added that he is impressed by how many Republicans like her.

If Clinton gets the nomination, Maggie Haberman of Politico said it’s hard for her to see any state that Barack Obama won in 2012 that Hillary Clinton would not win in 2016.

In the final segment on the economy, CNBC’s Jim Cramer blamed poor job growth last month on fear mongering by the Obama Administration regarding the sequester. He also says the best thing the Administration can do is fully embrace the Keystone pipeline project and move to the center regarding a grand bargain on the budget.

Mike Murphy agreed. He said the president has to do what most pragmatic politicians do at this point in their second term, “Cut loose the base and go big.”

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.

Happy Easter!

March 31, 2013

Off to spend time with family, so no notes this morning.