After Weeks Bashing Republicans, NBC Declares Shutdown 'Unmitigated Political Disaster' for GOP

After NBC spent weeks painting congressional Republicans as the villains who caused the government shutdown, on Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams opened the broadcast by smugly announcing: "Who do the American people blame for the shutdown of their government? Tonight our new NBC News poll is out and the answer is clear." [Listen to the audio]

On Friday's Today, political director Chuck Todd melodramatically touted the polling data: "Look, the shutdown has been, there's no sugarcoating this, an unmitigated political disaster for the GOP. Here is who's to blame. Nearly 53% blame congressional Republicans for this. Just 31% blame President Obama....This is something unprecedented, even for shutdown politics."

Co-host Savannah Guthrie teed up Todd to promote more bad news for the GOP: "And there's the question about who puts political interests first and the Republicans fair badly on that question as well." Todd replied: "Very badly. You look at this, 70% in our survey said that congressional Republicans were picking politics over the country....President Obama, 51% say he's picking politics over the country, but it's no where near where Republicans are."

Continuing the hit parade, Todd proclaimed: "This negative view of the Republican Party in our poll, 25-year history of this poll, it has never been lower than this. 53% negative view for the Republican Party. And then when you look at the match up between – in Congress between Democrats and Republicans, who would you like to control Congress? Democrats have an 8-point lead....This is what this shutdown has done to the Republican Party."

Todd also made a point of noting: "Democrats haven't had a lead like this in four years, since the honeymoon sort of six-week period after President Obama was inaugurated." For some reason Todd forgot to mention the heavy Democratic losses that occurred in the 2010 midterm elections after that "honeymoon" ended.

While Guthrie described NBC's poll results as "jaw-dropping" and Todd asserted that the numbers "sent shockwaves" throughout Washington, they really had no reason to be surprised.
A recent Media Research Center study found that in the two weeks leading up to the shutdown, NBC, ABC, and CBS engaged in sustained campaign to preemptively blame Republicans for the standoff.

In the MRC study, research director Rich Noyes detailed NBC's role in the blame game:

[On September 20] NBC's Brian Williams argued that "the wheels were set in motion" toward a potential shutdown after "Republicans in the House passed a bill that would keep the government going while killing ObamaCare." A week later, on the September 27 Nightly News, NBC's David Gregory zeroed in on "a relatively small group of legislators, you have Tea Party conservatives in the House who don't want to give up on this ObamaCare defunding fight."

By Sunday, September 29, after Harry Reid's Senate had killed the proposal to cut off ObamaCare funding, the networks characterized the much-milder demand for a one-year delay as too radical to consider. According to NBC's Kelly O’Donnell that night, "Tea Party conservatives held to their risky demand."

On September 26, Gregory appeared on Today to declare: "There's a universal feeling that the party that's more divided, that's Republicans, will feel most of the heat on this from the public..."

On Nightly News that evening, Todd proclaimed: "Another day of dysfunction and squabbling here in Washington as the clock ticks down for the potential government shutdown. Republicans trying to defund the President's health care law to do this shutdown."

On September 30, the day before the shutdown began, Todd echoed Gregory's sentiment: "Democrats are united, there is no Democrat that is ready to break ranks. Republicans are infighting. And that's why you got to assume at some point Boehner's gonna blink. Is it today or does he allow the government to shut down for two or three days and then blink."

Once the shutdown started, NBC kept up its assault on the GOP:

> Woman on 'Today' Plaza: GOP to Blame for Shutdown, Obama 'Best President We Have Had In a Very Long Time'

> NBC: 'Committed Core' of GOP Who 'Can't Be Conservative Enough' to Blame for Shutdown

> NBC Creates Twitter Meme to Bash Congress During Government Shutdown

> NBC's Williams Tells Letterman GOP 'Suicide Caucus' 'Cabal' to Blame for Shutdown

> NBC Touts Obama 'Sticking to His Guns' on Budget While His Minions Bash 'Irresponsible' GOP

> NBC Delighted By SNL Mocking GOP Over Government Shutdown

> NBC Laments 'Tea Party' Being 'Dug In' on Shutdown, Hopes for GOP 'Dropping the Health Care Thing'

> NBC Hypes 'Damage' to GOP in Shutdown, Ignores Obama Approval at 37 Percent

Here is a full transcript of Todd on the October 11 Today:

7:08AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, since the shutdown started, we've heard people voice their frustrations about the shutdown in Congress. Now, as Peter [Alexander] mentioned, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows just how angry they are. Chuck Todd is NBC News political director, chief White House correspondent. Chuck, good morning.

CHUCK TODD: Good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Capitol Outrage; Will Americans' Anger Force DC to Make A Deal?]

GUTHRIE: People don't like Washington, but there is one party that's getting more of the blame according to this poll. Our pollsters called it jaw-dropping.

TODD: It is. Look, the shutdown has been, there's no sugarcoating this, an unmitigated political disaster for the GOP. Here is who's to blame. Nearly 53% blame congressional Republicans for this. Just 31% blame President Obama. During the '95 shutdown, Republicans always got more blame, but they never crossed 50%. This is something unprecedented, even for shutdown politics.

GUTHRIE: And there's the question about who puts political interests first and the Republicans fair badly on that question as well.

TODD: Very badly. You look at this, 70% in our survey said that congressional Republicans were picking politics over the country. This includes even 40% of Republicans. President Obama, 51% say he's picking politics over the country, but it's no where near where Republicans are.

GUTHRIE: And we say these results shot through this poll, let's talk about the Republican Party in general. If midterm elections were being held next month instead of next year, what might we see?

TODD: Well, I would say this, the only good news in this poll is the date. It's October 2013, not October 2014. This negative view of the Republican Party in our poll, 25-year history of this poll, it has never been lower than this. 53% negative view for the Republican Party. And then when you look at the match up between – in Congress between Democrats and Republicans, who would you like to control Congress? Democrats have an 8-point lead. Democrats haven't had a lead like this in four years, since the honeymoon sort of six-week period after President Obama was inaugurated. This is what this shutdown has done to the Republican Party.

GUTHRIE: At the same time, President Obama, he's hanging in there in this poll, however, people do not like this position, "I won't negotiate."

TODD: The only talking point that Republicans have successfully sold to the American public is that one, "Why won't you negotiate, Mr. President?" But barely. Look at this, 43%, they think the President should negotiate, 40% don't.

Most of the things we've seen in this poll, though, Democrats have rallied around the President, but Republicans, particularly non-Tea Party Republicans, are basically backing off the Republican Party. And that's why this shutdown is playing the way it is.

GUTHRIE: And very quickly, as Peter [Alexander] mentioned, politicians do their own polls. These polls are flying around Capitol Hill. Is that why we're seeing movement suddenly?

TODD: Not to sit there and say our poll is the one that is suddenly creating a sense of urgency, but our poll, because it's conducted by campaign pollsters, no other major poll is done this way-

GUTHRIE: Republican and Democrat.

TODD: Republican and Democrat. This one sent shockwaves last night. The urgency to just suddenly flip the switch on this, among Republicans, is at it's highest point that we've seen in weeks.

GUTHRIE: Chuck Todd, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.