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Lauer On Pelosi Syria Visit: ‘Let’s Face It, A Lot Of People Think She Messed Up On This One’

By Faiz Shakir

"Lauer On Pelosi Syria Visit: ‘Let’s Face It, A Lot Of People Think She Messed Up On This One’"

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This morning, NBC’s Today Show ran a biased segment casting doubt on Pelosi’s Syria trip. Every single question asked by anchor Matt Lauer was framed around conservative talking points. In his first question, Lauer claimed Pelosi has gotten off to a rough start because of criticisms from a baseless Washington Post editorial, Vice President Cheney, and the conservative editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal:

LAUER: Vice President Cheney called Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria “bad behavior,” a Washington Post editorial on Thursday called it “counter-productive and foolish,” and an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this morning goes a step further and suggests her trip may actually have been a felony, that it may have violated something called the Logan Act. Tim, is this the way the Democrats wanted to get off the mark in terms of foreign affairs?

With his second question, Lauer asserted that “a lot of people think [Pelosi] messed up on this one,” and then asked “what’s the impact for the Democrats overall?” Lauer never mentioned the fact that five Republicans — Reps. Frank Wolf, Robert Aderholt, Joseph Pitts, David Hobson, and Darrell Issa — visited Syria this week.

To wrap up the segment, Lauer suggested that Pelosi may be “seen as usurping presidential power in designing and implementing foreign policy,” disregarding Rep. David Hobson’s (R-OH) comments that the Pelosi-led delegation “reinforced the administration’s positions.”

Watch the segment:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/04/nbcsyria.320.240.flv]

What the right-wing and the feckless media haven’t reported is that the American public supports giving diplomacy with Syria a chance. A December World Public Opinion poll found that 75 percent of Americans — including 72 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Democrats — support the Iraq Study Group’s recommendation for direct engagement with Iran and Syria. Polls for the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg and the Washington Post found similarly high levels of support for engagement.

Transcript:

LAUER: Vice President Cheney called Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria “bad behavior,” a Washington Post editorial on Thursday called it “counter-productive and foolish,” and op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this morning goes a step further and suggests her trip may actually have been a felony, that it may have violated something called the Logan Act. Tim, is this the way the Democrats wanted to get off the mark in terms of foreign affairs?

RUSSERT: No, they clearly wanted to distinguish themselves from the president’s policies, but you have to be careful, as Congressman Hamilton suggested. One ranking Democrat, Matt, said “we have an alternative Democratic foreign policy.” That is going to be very difficult to articulate and put into place when you don’t control the White House. On the other hand, Speaker Pelosi issued a statement last night on behalf of the bi-partisan delegation she is leading. Her delegation includes Republican congressmen. She is saying she has done nothing wrong or inconsistent with American foreign policy.

LAUER: Well, that’s their side of the story. However, if you look back at the mid-term elections, clearly some voters in this country were unhappy with the administration’s foreign policy, specifically in Iraq; it’s one of the reasons we think Democrats took control of Congress. But if the Democrats and Speaker Pelosi appear to be acting irresponsibly or incompetently, and let’s face it, a lot of people think she messed up on this one, what’s the impact for Democrats overall?

RUSSERT: It’s considerable. The Democrats have always had a difficulty being competitive with the Republicans in the public voter’s mind on national security and foreign policy issues. And if the people perceive missteps, it’s going to create and underscore that perceptual problem of Democrats.

LAUER: And let’s go back to the point you touched on a second ago. If it’s seen — what is the bigger and longer-term issue here if a political party is seen as usurping presidential power in designing and implementing foreign policy?

RUSSERT: As we learned in 1994, Matt, when Republicans took control of Congress with the Republican revolution and the Contract With America, people voted for change. But the voters are also willing to turn that around on its head, if they believe people have gone too far. That’s why this debate is so important.

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