NBC News’ coverage of President Trump’s first State of the Union address got off to a rocky start when Savannah Guthrie and Tom Brokaw seemed to disrespect the president by spewing comments about the Russian probe as Trump was at the podium preparing to speak.
“Let’s not forget as we see Attorney General (Jeff) Sessions, this is a president under criminal investigation for obstruction of justice with regard to the Russia investigation,” Guthrie said, while Trump was receiving a round of applause.
Brokaw then chimed in, pointing out that there is a “missing major figure in this hall tonight that we ought not to forget about, and that is the special prosecutor of the United States, who at this hour is probably meeting with his team,” referring to Robert Mueller.
“That is an extraordinary important part of what is going on in Washington, D.C.,” Brokaw said as Trump was starting to address the nation. “Despite all of the grandeur of this setting, and the television photos and members of the Supreme Court, members of the Cabinet, out there is a highly regarded investigator who is looking into whether or not he broke the law.”
Trump uttered his first words while Brokaw was still speaking. A longtime TV executive who has worked on multiple State of the Unions told Fox News the display was “very disrespectful and offensive.”
Radio host Mark Simone tweeted, “The most biased commentator on TV, Tom Brokaw, keeps bringing up Robert Mueller in every sentence, keeps trying to imply that Pres Trump is going to jail any minute. Ridiculously slanted coverage from Brokaw. Like they say, there’s no fool like an old fool.”
One viewer took to Twitter to say, “News used to be unbiased and not agenda driven. Brokaw, you are the total opposite. You should be ashamed of yourself,” while another wrote, “I’m assuming that was Tom Brokaw’s gravelly voice providing narration during Trump’s entry; and am under the impression Brokaw isn’t a fan.”
One viewer mocked Brokaw pointing out that Mueller wasn’t in attendance, “Because he’d get an invite? Good grief.”
Lester Holt anchored the network’s coverage that also featured Megyn Kelly, Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell, along with Guthrie and Brokaw. Meanwhile, Mueller has spent months investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election, but the president repeatedly has declared that there was no collusion, and he is willing to testify under oath.
There was absolutely no reason to bring up the Mueller probe as Trump prepared to make, arguably, the most important speech of his presidency to this point. The State of the Union is historically supposed to unify the nation — but someone apparently forgot to tell NBC News that it claims to be a non-partisan news organization.