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NBC Uses Russian Propaganda to Scold Graham for Urging Putin Overthrow

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On Friday, NBC’s Today show went after Republican Senator Lindsey Graham for urging Russians to rise up and “take out” brutal dictator Vladimir Putin. The broadcast scolded the South Carolina lawmaker for his “controversial call” and even quoted propaganda from Putin’s regime denouncing the comment.   

“And a U.S. Senator makes a controversial call for Russians to assassinate Vladimir Putin,” co-host Savannah Guthrie warned at the top of the show. Minutes later, fellow co-host Hoda Kotb fretted: “…top Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is courting controversy for encouraging Russians to, quote, ‘step up to the plate,’ and assassinate Vladimir Putin.”

Senior Washington correspondent Hallie Jackson worried: “This is the kind of political curveball at this extremely precarious moment with Russia and Vladimir Putin.” She then introduced this soundbite of Graham talking to Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity Thursday night about the ongoing war in Ukraine: “Is there a Brutus in Russia? The only way this ends, my friend, is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out.”

Jackson explained that “the Senator’s comments are being interpreted by some as a call for the assassination of the Russian leader.” Incredibly, she actually cited propaganda from the Putin regime attacking Graham:

And then new this morning, just in the last couple minutes, we’ve gotten a response from Putin’s press secretary, calling this “A hysterical escalation of Russophobia.” Saying, quote, “These days, not everyone manages to maintain sobriety, I would even say sanity, and many lose their minds.” Again, a quote from Putin’s press secretary.

The reporter then concluded: “All of this likely to fuel concerns this could become a talking point for Putin….his team has been eager to frame this invasion as American persecution of Putin.”

First, NBC airing that absurd report did more to advance Putin’s talking points than anything Lindsey Graham said. Second, military analysts appeared on both CBS and MSNBC Friday morning to endorse the Senator’s comments.

When asked about Graham’s remarks on CBS Mornings, retired Lt. Gen. H.R McMaster, the former National Security Adviser, said this:

Well, you know, I think what we need is we need a Russia that ceases its permanent hostility to Europe and the United States and the free world generally. And so a change in the nature of that government is what we need. Now how that happens will be up to the Russian people. But I hope that the Russian people are concluding that their future is pretty bleak under Putin….I think the information dimension of the fight is important, and it’s related to what Senator Graham said, is that the Russian people need to get rid of this guy.

On MSNBC Reports in the 9:00 a.m. ET hour, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James Stavridis similarly declared support for Graham:

Well, first and foremost, we’ve been talking a lot about the threat Vladimir Putin poses to Ukraine, which is overwhelming. He’s an enormous threat to Russia. And I think Senator Graham is absolutely correct to point out that the path upon which Vladimir Putin has embarked potentially could destroy the Russian economy and make it an isolated rogue state….And one other analogy to think about, we use this expression “crossing the Rubicon.” It’s what Julius Cesar did in defiance of the Roman republic. How did he end up? He was assassinated on the ides of March. So I think there is a hope that within Russia the light will go on that Russia is headed in a terrible direction.

In fact, on Sunday’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd actually cited Stavridis proposing a “Julius Caesar solution” to Putin: “…let’s go to another way that this could end. And that is if Putin either recalculates, and maybe that’s what these peace talks are about, or as Admiral Stavridis said to me in my podcast, ‘There’s a Julius Caesar solution.’”

Is the Today show planning to lecture its own media colleagues about saying the exact same thing as Graham?  

While NBC devoted a full report to attacking Graham for speaking out against an unhinged dictator, the network morning show failed to provide any coverage of Putin’s government enacting a law to shut down freedom of the press. In contrast, both ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS Mornings informed viewers of the “dangerous” and “scary” authoritarian measure.

The Today show’s attempt to use Putin propaganda to attack Senator Graham was brought to viewers by Citi and Bath Fitter. You can fight back by letting these advertisers know what you think of them sponsoring such content.

Here is a full transcript of the March 4 report:

7:00 AM ET TEASE

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And a U.S. Senator makes a controversial call for Russians to assassinate Vladimir Putin. The latest straight ahead.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Controversial Call]

7:07 AM ET SEGMENT

HODA KOTB: Also this morning, top Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is courting controversy for encouraging Russians to, quote, “step up to the plate,” and assassinate Vladimir Putin. NBC’s senior Washington correspondent Hallie Jackson joins us with more on this story. Hey, Hallie, good morning.         

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Lindsey Graham Calls for Putin Assassination]

HALLIE JACKSON: Hey, Hoda, good morning to you. This is the kind of political curveball at this extremely precarious moment with Russia and Vladimir Putin. Senator Lindsey Graham overnight, as the situation at that nuclear plant was escalating, calling on someone in Russia to, in his words, “take out Putin.” Listen.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM [R-SC]: Is there a Brutus in Russia? The only way this ends, my friend, is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out.

JACKSON: Graham’s spokesperson noted that the Senator also expressed he was okay with a coup to remove Putin. But the Senator’s comments are being interpreted by some as a call for the assassination of the Russian leader. Including fellow Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who now is calling this an “exceptionally bad idea.”

And then new this morning, just in the last couple minutes, we’ve gotten a response from Putin’s press secretary, calling this “A hysterical escalation of Russophobia.” Saying, quote, “These days, not everyone manages to maintain sobriety, I would even say sanity, and many lose their minds.” Again, a quote from Putin’s press secretary.

All of this likely to fuel concerns this could become a talking point for Putin. Keep in mind, he’s publically been on defense as most of the rest of the world praises Ukraine’s resistance. So his team has been eager to frame this invasion as American persecution of Putin. Hoda?  

KOTB: Alright, Hallie Jackson for us there in Washington. Hallie, thank you.

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