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Networks Celebrate Hillary Clinton's Return to Work and 'Prank Gift'

All three network evening newscasts on Monday found time to tout Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's return to work after hospitalization for a blood clot, "clearly enjoying a prank gift" from her staff and being greeted by a "standing ovation."

NBC's Nightly News devoted a full report to the development, with anchor Brian Williams declaring: "...we got our first official look at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton since she emerged from the hospital. It came in the form of some still photos of her first day back at work, a view of her carefully managed by her team after a tough couple of weeks."

Chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell gushed over the gag gift Clinton received: "Noting that life in Washington is often a contact sport, her deputies gave her a heavily padded football helmet with the State Department seal to protect her from future falls. And a matching jersey, showing how many countries she's traveled to as secretary of state." State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland explained: "She loved it, she thought it was cool. But then being Hillary Clinton, she wanted to get right to business."

Moments later, Mitchell wondered: "Will Clinton's health scare slow her down?" A sound bite followed from liberal Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus: "Slowing down for Hillary Clinton is not like slowing down for normal people. It is stopping a crazy-killer schedule, and perhaps just going to what for normal people would be a very, very full schedule."

Mitchell concluded: "And those who know Hillary Clinton best think that this illness and, of course, the blood clot, won't stop her if she decides to run again for president. Of course, after a suitable rest."

On ABC's World News, anchor Diane Sawyer similarly fawned over Clinton's triumphant return: "Well, today, her staff greeted her with a standing ovation and a funny gift. Look, a football helmet with the State Department seal."

Earlier in the day, during a special report on President Obama nominating his choices for defense secretary and CIA director, Sawyer also managed to show photos of Clinton back on the job: "Her staff gave her a football helmet with the State Department insignia on it as a joke after her absence and to welcome her back." Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos remarked: "Good to see her back." Sawyer added: "It is sure great."

On CBS's Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley offered the most straightforward news brief, noting Clinton's welcome by her staff, but adding: "Clinton said that she will testify before Congress about that attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed the ambassador and three other Americans."

In her Nightly News report, Mitchell also brought up Benghazi: "But as Clinton wraps up four years as America's most widely traveled diplomat, the wild card for her team is still Benghazi. Republicans want her to testify about what she knew and when about the terror attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens."

Sawyer completely ignored the Benghazi controversy in her coverage of Clinton on ABC.

Here is a full transcript of Mitchell's January 7 report:

7:00PM ET TEASE:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Our first official glimpse of the Secretary of State since she got out of the hospital. A surprise for Hillary Clinton on her first day back on the job.

7:04PM ET SEGMENT:

WILLIAMS: And across town from the White House at the State Department today, as we said, we got our first official look at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton since she emerged from the hospital. It came in the form of some still photos of her first day back at work, a view of her carefully managed by her team after a tough couple of weeks. Our chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell has it all from our D.C. newsroom tonight. Andrea, good evening.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good evening, Brian. After a month out of office recovering from a stomach virus, a fall, a concussion, and a treatment for a blood clot in the head, Hillary Clinton returned to the State Department today, but still has not been seen in public. One month after she suddenly took ill, Hillary Clinton was back at work, leading a senior staff meeting and seen only in still photos taken by the State Department, but clearly enjoying a prank gift. Noting that life in Washington is often a contact sport, her deputies gave her a heavily padded football helmet with the State Department seal to protect her from future falls. And a matching jersey, showing how many countries she's traveled to as secretary of state.

VICTORIA NULAND [U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT]: She loved it, she thought it was cool. But then being Hillary Clinton, she wanted to get right to business.

MITCHELL: But as Clinton wraps up four years as America's most widely traveled diplomat, the wild card for her team is still Benghazi. Republicans want her to testify about what she knew and when about the terror attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

LINDSEY GRAHAM: Absolutely essential that she testify. I want to know from the Secretary of State's point of view, "Were you informed of the deteriorating security situation? Were all these cables coming out of Benghazi, did they ever get up to your level? If they didn't, that's a problem. If they did, why didn't you act differently?"

MITCHELL: But the Senate isn't back until after the inaugural, the third week in January.

NULAND: Well, let me just say that she will testify, she will testify while she is still sitting secretary of state.

MITCHELL: That could delay John Kerry's confirmation to be secretary of state, although he is already spending time at the State Department and talks with Clinton every day. Now that she's back, will Clinton's health scare slow her down?

RUTH MARCUS [WASHINGTON POST]: Slowing down for Hillary Clinton is not like slowing down for normal people. It is stopping a crazy-killer schedule, and perhaps just going to what for normal people would be a very, very full schedule.

MITCHELL: And those who know Hillary Clinton best think that this illness and, of course, the blood clot, won't stop her if she decides to run again for president. Of course, after a suitable rest. Brian.

WILLIAMS: Andrea Mitchell in our D.C. newsroom with that story. Andrea, thanks.