The last time Brian Williams showed up in primetime for a splashy special on public policy was an enormous tribute to the then new president, Barack Obama -- making a run for hamburgers with him, hailing how he displayed apples everywhere, and bowing to him and wishing him a pleasant evening after NBC chronicled his glorious day of saving America from recession. You know, just like Williams treated Bush.
Everyone knew the way the wind was going to blow on this show. Williams was so nervous about the Tea Party he was actually suggested House Speaker John Boehner might be a force for good. Weirdly playing snippets of the old Jimmy Dean tune "Big Bad John," about how nobody gives lip to Big Bad John, Williams announced, "By all accounts the big meeting with his fellow Republicans is tense. In no uncertain terms the Speaker tells hardline conservatives, who are in no mood to compromise, to get in line behind his bill."
Notice the labels. Somehow, Williams never spent a second on his Obama special asking the president how he was going to handle the demands of "hardline liberals" -- or any kind of liberal, for that matter. The only hardliners are conservatives who want to stop the spending madness. What this country desperately needs are more "hardline conservatives" to dismay network anchormen.
Williams undermined his own musical intro by questioning Boehner's grip on power. "Mr. Speaker, is it fair to say you have a bit of a rebellion on your hands?" Sadly, Boehner tried to play along. "I've got a little rebellion on my hands every day. It comes with the territory."
Williams pulled out The New York Times, not exactly where Republicans go to look good. "You don't look happy on the front page of The New York Times. It says 'Boehner's Grip on His Caucus is Put to Test in Standoff.' Feel like you're being tested?" Boehner agreed. The question is whether Boehner wants to pass that test by pleasing liberals like Brian Williams, or by pleasing conservatives.
Williams suggested the newest Tea Party Republicans in Congress weren't real Republicans: "Your job is to run your party, but there is another party in there too. You have this Tea Party caucus that didn't come to Washington with the same values."
This time, Boehner had a good answer. "It's not the Tea Party caucus. It would be more what I would describe as some hardline conservatives who want more. I don't blame them. I want more, too."
Now we arrive at the point where Williams and NBC made colossal fools of themselves.
Williams wanted the political narrative to be painted by ultraliberal Sen. Charles Schumer. "Word has gotten around" that House Republicans held a meeting and showed a motivational movie clip from the Ben Affleck crime movie "The Town," which Williams said "eventually involves hockey masks and baseball bats and tons of bullets." Horrors!
After Schumer declared the Republicans were violent nuts, the NBC cameras turned to Republican whip Kevin McCarthy. Williams pushed him about this press-stopping scandal. McCarthy professed amazement that Schumer would be highlighting a movie clip from a meeting he didn't attend.
He shouldn't be amazed, and Brian Williams would never try to embarrass Democrats by accepting leaks about movie clips from internal party meetings. That partisan double standard defines the Old Media.
For more evidence, see the Williams interview with former speaker Nancy Pelosi. He didn't ask about her grip on her caucus of hardline leftists. He didn't read her headlines from the Washington Times. He asked about whom the (set ital) Republicans (end ital) would hurt. "A liberal member said to me his fear is the poor are gonna get hurt and the rich are gonna get by without harm in this. Is that your fear?"
Pelosi preposterously proclaimed she had the entire country at heart, while the GOP only cared about the super rich: "My concern is for the great middle class and we want to have a resolution of this that is for 100 percent of the American people. Republicans want to have a resolution that is for the two percent."
There were a dozen different ways to respond to that outrageous statement. One was silent assent; guess what option Williams chose.