Another episode of “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” finishes out the twelve-week sequence.
This story deals with President Obama finally revealing his long-form birth certificate, putting to rest speculation and rumors from the Conservative Right. Anchor Brian Williams opens up by stating that people in Hawaii remember seeing the president’s mother pregnant and recall seeing Obama as a child. Williams mentions the ongoing controversy about Obama not revealing his birth certificate and how Donald Trump, the famous businessman and celebrity, has recently brought the issue back into the spotlight. The report shifts to reporter Savannah Guthrie at the White House. She begins by discussing how the president showed his birth certificate in order to silence the “sideshows and carnival barkers.” Guthrie reports that Obama was displeased that this issue kept creeping into the mainstream. She says that the president felt it unnecessary to dig up this document because he had provided the short-form of his birth certificate during the 2008 campaign and also had newspaper clippings about his birth. Guthrie reiterates that the “birther” debate came back into focus when Trump began to think about a presidential candidacy. At a press conference Wednesday, Trump claimed responsibility for the long-form birth certificate being revealed, Guthrie states. She talks about how Trump repeatedly requested to see the document, but then “ignored” NBC reporters saying they had the birth certificate. The report shifts back to Obama and how he has “grown tired of the issue.” He says that he has no time for this type of “silliness.” The report ends by mentioning that the president appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” Wednesday afternoon.
NBC’s left slant is apparent in this report. Williams starting the story by making undocumented claims about the President’s childhood and slamming Conservatives for bringing up this controversy clearly shows what he, and his parent network, believed all along. Williams and Guthrie both seem to demonize Trump for bringing up the birth certificate as a means of garnering support for his presidential run. They obviously do not see it as an issue that riles people up and is ripe for getting potential votes. Guthrie echoes some of the president’s language by making this issue seem less than it was. Obama certainly wanted to make this matter go away and finally did that today. Guthrie makes amends for the president by saying that he already had the short-form of the document and other documentation. She explains away the question of “Well, why did he wait so long to show the long-form?” by saying that the state of Hawaii would not release the document “even to the president.” A further explanation of why Hawaii was legally not allowed to show this document is necessary. Also, the NBC reporter trying to get Trump’s attention with the long-form certificate is a bit silly and sensationalist. There was no way Trump was going to stop and look at the reporter in that crowd of people. NBC includes that bit just to cast doubt on Trump’s legitimacy and credibility as a presidential candidate.
This segment discusses the changes being made in the defense and intelligence sectors of the government. Williams begins by mentioning how there were major shifts of power on Wednesday, the same day when nine people were killed in Afghanistan. Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski takes over and explains who received new titles and new duties. He states Defense Secretary Robert Gates is retiring and that current CIA director Leon Panetta will be taking his place. The report continues by describing how General David Petraeus, commander of United States forces in Afghanistan, will replace Panetta at the CIA. Miklaszewski then gives detail on Panetta and Petraeus. He says that Panetta, after having no background in intelligence, used his political skill to make a good name for the CIA, even under intense scrutiny from Congress. Panetta also worked on the CIA’s budget, he reports. The report praises Panetta for this and talks about how he will be able to use those skills at the Pentagon, the entity with the biggest budget in Washington, D.C. Petraeus will be going into a civilian job after being at war for ten years, says Miklaszewski, but his skills in counter-intelligence and covert operations will aid him greatly at the CIA. The report drifts to a description of Wednesday’s events in Afghanistan and talks about how the deaths are still under investigation. Miklaszewski ends the story by talking about the troop drawbacks in July, saying that they will be minimal at best.
Miklaszewski does a good job of keeping this report objective. He accurately explains the changes being made. The only reason given for this shake-up is the fact that Gates is retiring. The report glazes over this fact and does not give Gates his credit. Miklaszewski is a bit heavy-handed with his praise of Panetta. He talks about Panetta’s lack of experience in intelligence like it is a good thing, which I feel is somewhat ridiculous. The report makes it seem as if political prowess is more important than knowing the field in which a person will be working. As for Petraeus, the report undermines his military success. Yes, one of the interviewees does mention the fact that Petraeus is one of the highest ranked generals in the military, but the comment that “Petraeus has been at war for 10 years” comes off negatively. Petraeus sounds like a warmonger, not a leader. There is also no discussion of how the president came to these decisions. NBC shines objectively for bringing up how much larger the Pentagon’s budget is compared to the CIA’s. Hopefully Panetta will be able to manage it well. Also, Williams’ introduction is fairly straight.