RUSH: Now, as you know, state-run NBC was granted access to the Barack Obama reality show, The West Wing. We have a series of sound bites here, and the first one is a montage to give you a flavor of Brian Williams following Obama and his staff around in the White House last Friday. Now, this show, as you would expect from state-controlled media, is a fawning tribute to Obama. But the topic that dominated the day last Friday at the White House was Sonia Sotomayor — and, by extension, me. So here’s the montage to give you a flavor (this thing aired last night) of how state-controlled NBC put together this little reality show on Obama and his staff.
WILLIAMS: (montage) The TV version of The West Wing on NBC has only been off the air for three years, and yet it’s already a dated, imperfect depiction of what life is like here. (rap music) It is young, it is fast, and it is loose. Eric Lesser is 24. He was in charge of baggage and logistic on the Obama campaign plane. Now he’s the right-hand man to David Axelrod. (snip) Katie Johnson, K.J., is 28. She is the president’s secretary. (snip) Then there’s the senior management team, Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, General Jim Jones, and Robert Gibbs, and the news of this day on the domestic front: the new Supreme Court nominee. (snip) The meetings and the pace of this place aren’t unusual in terms of past administrations we’ve seen, but this president is. (snip) This president’s been called a rock star by his fans and his critics.
RUSH: Okay, so there’s the setup, there’s the setup. Now here is Brian Williams detailing last Friday and how the criticism of Sotomayor, by me, has totally flummoxed them.
WILLIAMS: This is where the president nominated federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court, and that became a big story during our day here at the White House. Specifically, a controversial quote from the judge dating back to a lecture she gave in 2001. The critics pounced on it.
RUSH ARCHIVE: ‘…reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.’
WILLIAMS: It’s the kind of scenario a press office dreads, a presidential nominee makes a remark that gives the opposition ammunition. It becomes clear the Sotomayor issue isn’t going away. Within the hour, senior advisor David Axelrod and his staff react. The candid advice seems to be, ‘Do something about Judge Sotomayor.’ By 12 noon the deputy chief of staff is calling Capitol Hill to lock in Democratic support.
RUSH: Now, they can scramble all day long, folks, and by the end of the day, they settle on the type of damage control that they are going to engage in.
WILLIAMS: At 2:20 press secretary Robert Gibbs thinks he’s ready to meet the press. The Sotomayor controversy is simmering right now.
GIBBS: Some days are good and some days are… (snicker) aren’t so good.
CNN’S BRIANNA KEILAR: Comments made by Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich are getting a whole lot of attention.
WILLIAMS: At 5 p.m., Deputy Chief of Staff Messina meets with White House aides.
WHITE HOUSE AIDE: It really is maddening watching this sort of hatefest going on.
WILLIAMS: Finally, the White House decides to use the big gun. They know we’re scheduled for an interview with the president, and he is ready with his comment on the nominee’s comment.
OBAMA: I’m sure she would have, uhhh, uh, restated it.
WILLIAMS: He continues defending his nominee for ten minutes. By 5:01, the president is watching himself on MSNBC. By 6:12, Fox News. It’s the breakneck news cycle of 2009, and in order to keep up, the president surrounds himself with highly skilled and fiercely loyal players, one of them more fierce than the rest. Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. What’s it’s like to hear your Supreme Court nominee called a racist?
EMANUEL: Let me quote the Republican Senator from Texas who felt that both Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich’s comments were ridiculous.
RUSH: So this program flummoxed the White House all of last Friday and whether state-controlled NBC wants to admit it or not, by virtue of their own report, it was this program and Mr. Newt which forced Obama — ‘the big gun’ — they had to bring out the big gun because the press office couldn’t handle it on their own, had to bring out the big gun to say, ‘Well, I think she probably would say it a different way. She restated it.’ It’s a Do-over. Yeah, what would she have said differently? That they didn’t specify. ‘Oh, she’da just said it differently.’ (laughing) Can you imagine now? I wonder if somebody called Obama while he was getting out of his meeting with the king of Saudi Arabia and said, ‘Hey, Newt Gingrich retracted and Limbaugh says she might be pro-life and if so he might support her.’
OBAMA: Tell her when you guys are ready. I feel good today. I think this is going to be one-takes the whole way through.
WILLIAMS: He’s devoting the address to a defense of his nominee.
OBAMA: This week I nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the US Court of Appeals to replace Justice Dahhh, bahhh. Oh, well. So much for one take.
WILLIAMS: It ends up being more like four takes.