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

July 7, 2013

All Rights NBC NewsThis morning’s broadcast began with live coverage of the Asiana flight 214 crash in San Francisco, and then turned to the crisis in Egypt.

Meet the Press was supposed to feature an exclusive interview with opposition leader Dr. Mohammed Elbaradei. Dr. Elbaradei was named prime minister of Egypt yesterday before his name was withdrawn by the Egyptian interim president’s office.

Just hours before Meet the Press came on the air, Dr. Elbaradei cancelled his appearance. Host David Gregory said he spoke with Dr. Elbaradei by phone and reported three things from that conversation: 1) Dr. Elbaradei claimed he was sick with laryngitis and a fever and therefore could do no television interviews, 2) He told Gregory that he still expects to be named prime minister as early as today, and 3) Dr. Elbaradei said, “The country is falling apart.”

Gregory then turned to Nabil Fahmy the former ambassador of Egypt to the United States. Gregory said that Fahmy has been mentioned as a potential foreign minister of Egypt in the interim government. Fahmy defended the role of the military and predicted a return to democratic processes very soon in Egypt.

Jeff Goldberg of Bloomberg called the events in Egypt a victory for progressivism and a defeat for democracy. He said we know the Muslim brotherhood are a totalitarian fundamentalist party and that their removal from power is good for women and Christians and others in Egypt. But we can also predict, he said, that it won’t be the last time the military plays a role in the political process.

Goldberg said, “If there had just been some patience on the part of liberals, the Muslim Brotherhood might have imploded on their own accord.” Now Goldberg worries the Muslim Brotherhood can be seen as martyrs and may get more involved in terrorism. Later Gregory quoted Shadi Hamid of Brookings making much the same point about the potential now for the brotherhood to become more involved in terrorism and to blame the United States for their fate.

Later Goldberg said, “This was the Muslim Brotherhood’s big chance, and they blew it. They put a bumpkin in charge, who was in over his head, and he tried to seize absolute power.”

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell pointed out that democracy is not necessarily synonymous with free and fair elections.

Moving on to other topics, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “Any such acceptance of [Edward] Snowden to any country is going to put them directly against the United States, and they need to know that.”

The political roundtable next chewed over developments in health care reform. In reaction to the Obama Administration’s delay of an employer health care mandate, Congressman Raul Labrador (R-ID) asked, “So what part of Obamacare actually works?”

On immigration reform, Congressman Labrador tried to spell out the Republican opposition to the Senate bill. In a sometimes heated exchange, David Brooks of the New York Times called it one of the most intellectually weak opposition arguments he’s heard in Washington, D.C. Labrador said that is ridiculous. He later added that if we don’t do this right it will, “…be the death of the Republican Party.”

NBC’s Chuck Todd said for the first time he sees some doubt in the Obama White House about the prospects of immigration reform passing both houses of Congress this year.

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 30, 2013 Broadcast of Meet The Press

June 30, 2013

All Rights NBC NewsThis morning’s Meet the Press began with a panel discussion of the Supreme Court same-sex marriage decisions. The panel included MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, NBC’s Pete Willams, conservative leaders Ralph Reed and Jim DeMint, and Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown.

There were a few fireworks during the discussion, but no new ground was covered. Host David Gregory brought in Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) who is making a quixotic push for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. There was nothing new in his arguments.

Gregory then played the tape of an interview he did the day before yesterday with former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). If there was anything newsworthy in Pelosi’s comments, I assume they would’ve made their way into NBC News broadcasts on Friday or Saturday. She expressed support for same sex marriage, abortion rights, legislative action to re-instate the Voting Rights Act, etc.

She did say that anyone who thinks Edward Snowden is a hero should be disabused of that notion by now since he is threatening to share information with the Chinese and Russians.

The panel returned to discuss the Voting Rights Act. No one expressed much hope that Congress could devise a bipartisan answer to the Supreme Court’s concerns any time soon.

The most exciting part of the program was an appearance by State Senator Wendy Davis (D-TX) who successfully filibustered an anti-abortion bill in the Texas legislature last week. She did a very good job on the national stage. No doubt, we will see her again in venues such as this.

In the panel discussion on abortion rights Maddow made Reed and DeMint noticeably uncomfortable describing a state government mandated vaginal ultra-sound. She pressed them to say whether or not this was an acceptable use of government power. They dodged the question.

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 This Week

June 23, 2013

It sounds like I am missing an exciting Meet The Press today as I travel from Kosovo to Lisbon. You can follow (or review) the NBC LiveBlog here.

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.