Nicolle Wallace misrepresented Obama's remarks about U.S., European attitudes
Research ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG
On Morning Joe, Nicolle Wallace falsely suggested that President Obama did not praise the U.S. and did not criticize Europe during a speech in France. In fact, during his speech, Obama criticized "anti-Americanism" in Europe and referred to "the good that America so often does in the world."
During the April 6 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Daily Beast contributor Nicolle Wallace falsely suggested that President Obama did not praise the United States and did not criticize Europe during remarks he made on April 3 in France. Wallace stated, "[W]hy not go to Europe and brag on your country instead of standing there in his professorial way and saying sometimes we suck, sometimes we're OK. You rock, Europe. Please. ... He called us arrogant, dismissive, and derisive on French soil." In fact, in his April 3 remarks, Obama criticized both American and European attitudes toward each other, while also referring to "the good that America so often does in the world."
As Media Matters for America has noted, immediately after stating that "there have been times where America's shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive," Obama criticized "an anti-Americanism [in Europe] that is at once casual but can also be insidious." Obama continued: "Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad. On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth."
From Obama's April 3 speech, none of which was aired by Morning Joe during the segment:
OBAMA: In recent years we've allowed our Alliance to drift. I know that there have been honest disagreements over policy, but we also know that there's something more that has crept into our relationship. In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.
But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad.
On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated. They fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth that America cannot confront the challenges of this century alone, but that Europe cannot confront them without America.
From the April 6 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
MIKA BRZEZINSKI (co-host): You know, looking at this Pew poll that we showed at the top of the show in terms of support for the president's job approval rating in his first year -- not surprising. Republicans and Democrats, there's a big split, and it usually is with -- along party lines, except for Reagan. But this is an historic split, and perhaps one that is a little unexpected given what he promised as president.
BRZEZINSKI: Fair enough?
WALLACE: Yeah, but, look, he's very popular. He's over 60 percent. I think that's true, and I think that what's happening is, I think, some of the Republicans are kind of coming home. I think they're uncomfortable with the spending. I think they're uncomfortable with the domestic policy. I think they're just -- they're uncomfortable. Look, I think he had a chance, and I don't think he's made any giant blunders, but I think there have been missed opportunities.
And I watched his entire town hall in France -- because I was watching this program and it came on -- and, you know, to stand there and say America's been arrogant, we've been dismissive, we've been derisive, instead of standing there and saying, you know, we're not perfect but we're the greatest country in the world -- I think that's where you start to lose the Republicans. I think they truly believe in an American exceptionalism that is different from what Obama on this trip defined his as. He understands and can relate to nationalism, but I think at his core he does not seem to believe in American exceptionalism the way most Republicans define it.
BRZEZINSKI: I think that's possibly true that there's a big division there in terms of how we see ourselves. Although, I could see it as incredibly, I guess, constructive to be -- well, to admit where we need to improve.
WALLACE: Yeah, and look -- and I think -- you know, I believe that standing on foreign soil and saying anything other than, you know, we're not perfect, but we're the best darn example of a country that gives all it can give, that works as hard as it can work, and can be a great partner if you do your part -- I mean, put some skin in the game, Europe. You know, send some troops to Afghanistan. Instead, it's --
BRZEZINSKI: Yeah, I know -- 5,000 NATO troops --
WALLACE: -- you know, oh, we were bad, we were arrogant. But --
CARLOS WATSON (MSNBC political analyst): But -- but hold on.
WALLACE: But listen -- but he said --
WATSON: But he clearly --
WALLACE: -- but he said we should celebrate your unity. Well, look, like have a stamp? I mean, celebrate Europe day?
WATSON: All right --
WALLACE: It's stupid and ridiculous, and that's why he's losing Republicans.
WATSON: Well, first of all, I think that poll leaves something out, which is he's got 57 percent of independents, and a lot of the people who, 25 years ago, would have called themselves Republicans no longer call themselves Republicans -- call themselves independents. And so, it's a little bit misleading in terms of the gap --
WALLACE: You know, he's very popular.
WATSON: But -- and I think you're right, in terms of fundamental popularity. But I also think that we miss it if we say that he hasn't made any progress over the last week through that G-20 summit -- that you clearly saw France make movement and talk about being cooperative in that process. I think you clearly saw -- you say no?
WALLACE: Red-state America cares so much about France? I mean, I just, you know -- he's very popular --
WATSON: Of course you care --
WALLACE: -- and I think that goes ahead of it.
WATSON: -- more about France and about French troops --
WALLACE: Look, we --
WATSON: -- and about French cooperation on economics and trade. You say -- you say no?
WALLACE: We want to be liked, but we want be liked for --
WATSON: Forget being liked. You want more troops in Afghanistan, and you don't want --
WALLACE: And they're sending like thir --
WATSON: -- you don't want them overly subsidizing some of their industries --
WALLACE: -- they're sending like 20 to help with training. I mean, you know.
BRZEZINSKI: France -- NATO itself, I think, giving 5,000 -- a piddly 5,000 over the weekend --
WALLACE: For security, not for fighting.
BRZEZINSKI: -- for -- not even -- not even the support forces.
WALLACE: We're at war. You know, they can call it whatever they want. Mike Gerson had a great line on Meet the Press. He says "overseas contingency" sounds like a lost luggage retrieval operation. It's a war. We're at war against terrorism.
WATSON: That's so -- that's so --
WALLACE: We didn't start it, but we're at war.
WATSON: That's so easy to say that when all we've seen in the last several years is the reverse happen. We've seen that our supposed coalition of the willing pull troops out.
BRZEZINSKI: Should he use "war on terror?"
WATSON: At least we start seeing progress going the other way.
WALLACE: He should use whatever he wants, but he should keep this country on a war footing.
MARK HALPERIN (Time senior political analyst): Is he making mistakes on foreign policy that are giving your party a chance to have an edge on national security, like you've had for your whole career?
WALLACE: I don't know. I don't know. I don't think so.
BRZEZINSKI: I love your honesty.
WALLACE: I mean, you know, I don't know. But I -- and I don't think he's -- again, look, he's at 60 percent. He's very popular --
WALLACE: -- and he's very good, and Michelle is a national asset. But why not go to Europe and brag on your country, instead of standing there in his professorial way and saying sometimes we suck, sometimes we're OK. You rock, Europe. Please.
WATSON: Because I think we tried that and it didn't work.
HALPERIN: That's a paraphrase, right?
WALLACE: He called us arrogant, dismissive, and derisive on French soil. Oh, I almost died.
BRZEZINSKI: Oh my lord. I see it completely differently. And that's what I love about this show and you, Nicolle Wallace. Thank you very much for coming on.