Brokaw Decries ‘Chaos’ in Washington; Recalls Lewinsky, Watergate

In a report for Friday’s NBC Today, special correspondent Tom Brokaw bemoaned the “turmoil” and “chaos” in Washington following Republican Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker blasting President Trump. The former Nightly News anchor seized the chance to compare the current contentiousness to the Monica Lewinsky, Iran-Contra, and Watergate scandals that threatened past presidencies.

“We have been watching a lot of political turmoil in Washington, nothing quite like last week,” Brokaw announced at the top of the 7:30 a.m. ET half hour segment. He went on to melodramatically proclaim: “When Republican Senators Flake and Corker this week said Donald Trump wasn’t fit to be president, that he was dangerous, we reached a new level of chaos in American politics.”

Rather than let the blame for such “chaos” rest with Flake and Corker, he quickly added: “Made all the more chaotic by the President’s schoolyard tweets calling them ‘losers’ and worse.”

Brokaw then placed the divisive D.C. spat in the same company as some of the biggest scandals in modern American political history:

This is not the first president to be tested within his own party….Bill Clinton had the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and many in his party were critical, but they saved him in the impeachment trial….President Reagan was betrayed by his staff in the Iran-Contra affair, and his party stayed with him. What about Richard Nixon and Watergate?… His most trusted aides were found guilty and went to jail as the President continued to insist he was innocent. Prominent Republicans had their doubts, but they kept them private. It was not until the Supreme Court insisted he turn over incriminating tape recordings that his fellow Republicans said it is time to go. And so he did.

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To his credit, Brokaw did at least highlight Flake and Corker’s unpopularity in their home states as a reason for their eagerness to trash the President on their way out the door of the Senate: “In fact, in the latest scrum, President Trump still has the upper hand for now. Senators Flake and Corker were in trouble at home. Other Republicans that – within their own party, they know that they have to stand by Trump because they’ve got re-election coming up next year.”

Following the report, fill-in co-host Willie Geist wondered why Trump wasn’t losing more GOP support: “…there were some people in the Republican Party who thought Jeff Flake and Bob Corker’s public criticism would be the first crack in the ice, and that support for the President might fall apart. That hasn’t happened at all. The sitting senators have, in fact, reaffirmed their support for the President.”

Brokaw reiterated:

Well, they did, in part, because Senators Flake and Corker were in trouble at home. They were not power – they were powerful in their – especially Senator Corker – in the Senate itself. Back in Tennessee, he’s in trouble. Flake is in real trouble in Arizona. So they didn’t have a lot of juice going into this fight.

That discussion was a marked improvement over the Today show’s Wednesday coverage, when Flake’s low approval ratings only received a scant 25 seconds of air time.

Brokaw’s biased report was brought to viewers by JCPenny, Hellmann’s, and Microsoft.

Here is a full transcript of the October 27 segment:

7:43 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: It’s been quite a week in Washington, highlighted by the harsh rebukes of the President by a pair of Republican senators and an exchange of fire.

HODA KOTB: Yeah, NBC News Special Correspondent Tom Brokaw is here, always has great perspective. Hey, Tom.

TOM BROKAW: Thank you very much, folks. We have been watching a lot of political turmoil in Washington, nothing quite like last week. It’s a family feud involving the President and two members of his own party.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Not Your Typical Week in Washington; Brokaw on Trump, Tweets & The Times We Live In]

SEN. BOB CORKER [R-TN]: You would think he would aspire to be the President of the United States and act like a President of the United States. But, you know, that’s just not gonna be the case, apparently.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE [R-AZ]: When such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to a democracy.

BROKAW: When Republican Senators Flake and Corker this week said Donald Trump wasn’t fit to be president, that he was dangerous, we reached a new level of chaos in American politics. Made all the more chaotic by the President’s schoolyard tweets calling them “losers” and worse.

This is not the first president to be tested within his own party.

BILL CLINTON: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

BROKAW: Bill Clinton had the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and many in his party were critical, but they saved him in the impeachment trial.

RONALD REAGAN: I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.

BROKAW: President Reagan was betrayed by his staff in the Iran-Contra affair, and his party stayed with him. What about Richard Nixon and Watergate?

RICHARD NIXON: Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.

BROKAW: His most trusted aides were found guilty and went to jail as the President continued to insist he was innocent. Prominent Republicans had their doubts, but they kept them private. It was not until the Supreme Court insisted he turn over incriminating tape recordings that his fellow Republicans said it is time to go. And so he did.

In fact, in the latest scrum, President Trump still has the upper hand for now. Senators Flake and Corker were in trouble at home. Other Republicans that – within their own party, they know that they have to stand by Trump because they’ve got re-election coming up next year. So in politics, two against one doesn’t mean much when one of them is the president. Even under these circumstances, still has a lot of power, and you get a great ally, obviously, in Breitbart and Steve Bannon.

WILLIE GEIST: Well, you touched on it a little bit, Tom, but there were some people in the Republican Party who thought Jeff Flake and Bob Corker’s public criticism would be the first crack in the ice, and that support for the President might fall apart. That hasn’t happened at all. The sitting senators have, in fact, reaffirmed their support for the President.

BROKAW: Well, they did, in part, because Senators Flake and Corker were in trouble at home. They were not power – they were powerful in their – especially Senator Corker – in the Senate itself. Back in Tennessee, he’s in trouble. Flake is in real trouble in Arizona. So they didn’t have a lot of juice going into this fight.

KOTB: Alright, Tom, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

GEIST: Thanks, Tom.

This post originally appeared on NewsBusters

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