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NBC Does Entire Segment on U.S. Egypt Policy Without Mentioning Obama by Name

In an impressive display of journalistic gymnastics on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie and Meet the Press moderator David Gregory managed to have an entire discussion about U.S. policy in Egypt without mentioning President Obama by name. [Listen to the audio]

Plenty of vague substitutions were used, including "the President" "the White House" "the administration" and most popularly, "the U.S." Anything to avoid actually holding Barack Obama accountable for the internal strife plaguing a key ally in the Middle East. Even the headline on screen during the morning show segment read: "Chaos in Egypt; What Options Does U.S. Have?" They at least briefly showed Obama on screen during the segment.

Here are a series of phrases used by Guthrie and Gregory that edited "Obama" out of the conservation:

> So the President has cancelled this joint military exercise...

> Is there any chance that the U.S. withdraws that aid? And if it did, would it lose any of the influence it still has left?

> ...within the White House they call that a knee-jerk move at this point. They're trying to calibrate and ratchet up the President's response, the administration's response.

> ...the administration, as you say, wants that leverage over the military...

> ...the U.S. has asked the generals not to engage in this kind of violent crackdown...

> The top members of the government, Secretary of State John Kerry and others, felt when Morsi was ousted that the military had this under control.

> The administration still has that faith in the military, but they're losing it day by day as they watch these images play out.

> ...the U.S. is being blamed on the Egyptian street by both sides. So trying to walk this nuanced line, but getting no credit for it.

> What is the United States prepared to do? A senior White House official told me yesterday that the U.S. does not want to be seen trying to engineer a political outcome. So where is U.S. clout right now? I think a lot of people are asking that question.

Now, imagine if Obama's name had actually been used in all those phrases:

> So President Obama has cancelled this joint military exercise...

> Is there any chance that Obama withdraws that aid? And if he did, would he lose any of the influence he still has left?

> ...within the White House they call that a knee-jerk move at this point. They're trying to calibrate and ratchet up President Obama's response, the administration's response.

> ...Obama, as you say, wants that leverage over the military...

> ...Obama has asked the generals not to engage in this kind of violent crackdown...

> The top members of the government, Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama, felt when Morsi was ousted that the military had this under control.

> Obama still has that faith in the military, but he's losing it day by day as he watches these images play out.

> ...Obama is being blamed on the Egyptian street by both sides. So trying to walk this nuanced line, but getting no credit for it.

> What is Obama prepared to do? A senior White House official told me yesterday that Obama does not want to be seen trying to engineer a political outcome. So where is Obama's clout right now? I think a lot of people are asking that question.

Such a simple change suddenly makes the reporting much more pointed and critical of the President.

In a report just prior to the segment, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel did manage to briefly include Obama in the coverage:

ENGEL: President Obama had harsh words for the military-backed government and cancelled a joint military exercise with Egypt.

BARACK OBAMA: The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt's interim government and security forces. We deplore violence against civilians.

ENGEL: Washington gives Egypt's armed forces more than a billion dollars a year. Aid historically tied to peace with Israel. The Egyptian military has long been a reliable U.S. ally, it still is. Egypt's government said the President's comments encouraged the opposition to protest more, leading to more violence.

Here is a full transcript of the August 16 exchange between Guthrie and Gregory:

7:04AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let's turn to David Gregory, he's moderator of Meet the Press. David, good morning to you.

DAVID GREGORY: Good morning, Savannah.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Chaos in Egypt; What Options Does U.S. Have?]

GUTHRIE: So the President has cancelled this joint military exercise, but let's face it, the real point of leverage here is that $1.3 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt. Is there any chance that the U.S. withdraws that aid? And if it did, would it lose any of the influence it still has left?

GREGORY: Well, that's the real question, because within the White House they call that a knee-jerk move at this point. They're trying to calibrate and ratchet up the President's response, the administration's response.

But you've got both members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, starting to sound more angry. Saying, look, the Egyptian military is putting them in a impossible situation. It's August, they go home, they have to defend giving a billion and a half dollars to Egypt, a lot of that to the military, when they are responsible for the death on the street and the images on our TV screens. So I think there's going to be more momentum.

Again, the administration, as you say, wants that leverage over the military and it's tied to the money.

GUTHRIE: Yeah, they want the leverage. At the same time, we're still giving the money and the U.S. has asked the generals not to engage in this kind of violent crackdown repeatedly and the generals went ahead and did it. John McCain said the military in Egypt is quote, "basically ignoring us."

GREGORY: Yeah and that's striking, Savannah. As you know, the best part of the relationship between the United States and Egypt is the military to military relationship. That's where we have the influence. Remember, Mubarak gets thrown out of power, it's the military that stabilizes things.

The top members of the government, Secretary of State John Kerry and others, felt when Morsi was ousted that the military had this under control. They would quickly usher in a period of stability, get back to a democratic path. Now the quite conversations are they have got to do it and they have got to do it quickly. The administration still has that faith in the military, but they're losing it day by day as they watch these images play out.

GUTHRIE: And very, very quickly, David. I mean, the U.S. is being blamed on the Egyptian street by both sides. So trying to walk this nuanced line, but getting no credit for it.

GREGORY: Right. And what is American influence right now? What is the United States prepared to do? A senior White House official told me yesterday that the U.S. does not want to be seen trying to engineer a political outcome. So where is U.S. clout right now? I think a lot of people are asking that question.

GUTHRIE: David Gregory, thank you so much. I know you have a lot more on this on Meet the Press on Sunday, as well as the fight over New York City's Stop and Frisk policy with police commissioner Ray Kelly.

MATT LAUER: You watch the images of the protests and it's easy to think, wow, that entire city of Cairo, the entire country of Egypt is coming apart at the seams. And yet, there's a picture on Twitter that's making the rounds that shows that even as the smoke rises in one part of Cairo, people in the other part of the city going about their business there, enjoying a day at the beach.

NATALIE MORALES: It's striking, that photo.

GUTHRIE: Classic image of a picture telling a thousand words there for sure.