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Politics

Pres. Obama Calls on ‘Big Cheese’ Chuck Todd First, In Todd’s Last Briefing for NBC News

The broadcast networks broke in Thursday afternoon to carry remarks from President Obama. Lester Holt anchored for NBC, Amy Robach for ABC and Maurice DuBois anchored on CBS as Pres. Obama delivered a statement on the U.S. economy, the continued ISIS threat in Iraq and Syria and the crisis in Ukraine. The president then opened it up to questions:

ToddBriefing“I’m going to start with somebody who, I guess, is now a big cheese. He’s moved on. But I understand this is go to be his last chance to ask me a question in the press room. I want to congratulate Chuck Todd and give him first dibs.” (Watch after the jump) Todd, who is moving on to “Meet the Press,” asked about Syria/ISIS.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Colleen McCain Nelson got the second question, asking the president whether today’s military action by Russia is considered to be an invasion of Ukraine. After three more questions, the president started to leave the briefing room, but returned to take a question on whether he’d make any executive actions on immigration reform. Obama: “It continues to be my belief that if I can’t see congressional action, that I need to do at least what I can in order to make the system work better.”

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C-SPAN Gearing Up for Midterm Elections

CSPANIt’s never too early to talk about campaign coverage, right? This afternoon, C-SPAN is out with its plans for the 2014 midterms.

The network will televise over 100 Senate, House, and governor debates leading up to this year’s midterm elections. Many will be simulcasted on local stations across the country.

“With the balance of power at stake in Congress, especially in the closely watched U.S. Senate races, C-SPAN will be the one place where you can see all the debates in the most competitive races,” Steve Scully, C-SPAN’s Sr. EP and political editor, said in a release. “Our partnerships with the local broadcast stations and cable companies across the country who televise these debates locally make our comprehensive coverage possible.”

The first debate in the lineup takes place September 3 at 7pmET on C-SPAN, C-SPAN radio, and C-Span.org, featuring the candidates for one of North Carolina’s Senate seats.

James Foley’s Brother: More Could’ve Been Done ‘Directly on Jim’s Behalf’

CouricWhile speaking with Katie Couric on Yahoo!, James Foley‘s brother expressed his thoughts on the U.S. government’s efforts to save Jim.

“The United States could’ve done more on behalf of the western and American hostages over there and still dealt with the broader worldwide issues,” Michael Foley, sitting alongside his sister Katie, said regarding the U.S. policy of not trading ransom money for prisoners.

“Take the money aside, there’s more that could’ve been done directly on Jim’s behalf, and I really hope with respect to Steven [Sotloff] that they take some action quickly.”

The interview caps off a big week for Couric. She also had an exclusive with Melinda Gates, who announced a million dollar donation to an online charity funding schools, and an exclusive with Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In that interview, which goes up this afternoon, Sirleaf thanked now Ebola-free Americans Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol who contracted the disease while treating Ebola patients in Liberia.

And on Couric’s former TV stomping grounds, James Foley’s parents talked about their own experience this morning. “I actually hoped we could engage in negotiations with them [ISIS] if they were willing to send us any sort of communication,” John Foley said in a “Today” exclusive.

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Did Obama White House Get Initial Insight on Ferguson From Al Sharpton?

SharptonPolitico Magazine writes the Obama administration leaned on MSNBC’s Al Sharpton for information after the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown and subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

A few days after 18-year-old Mike Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri, White House officials enlisted an unusual source for on-the-ground intelligence amid the chaos and tear gas: the Rev. Al Sharpton, a fiery activist who became a household name by provoking rather than pacifying. In Ferguson, Sharpton established himself as a de facto contact and conduit for a jittery White House seeking to negotiate a middle ground between meddling and disengagement. “There’s a trust factor with The Rev from the Oval Office on down,” a White House official familiar with their dealings told me. After huddling with Brown’s family and local community leaders, Sharpton connected directly with White House adviser and First Friend Valerie Jarrett, vacationing in her condo in the exclusive Oak Bluffs section of Martha’s Vineyard, not far from where President Obama and his family were staying. Obama was “horrified” by the images he was seeing on TV, Jarrett told Sharpton, and proceeded to pepper him with questions as she collected information for the president: How bad was the violence? Was it being fueled by outside groups—and could Sharpton do anything to talk them down? What did the Brown family want the White House to do?

As we reported recently, Sharpton has been in the middle of two high profile cases recently: the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson and the case of Eric Garner, who was put in a chokehold by NYPD police and later died. “Rev. Al Sharpton is both President of the National Action Network and host on MSNBC,” MSNBC president Phil Griffin told us. “We’ve always been transparent about the dual roles and his work outside of MSNBC.”

Chris Jansing’s Interview with Senator, Doctor, Possible Presidential Contender Rand Paul

JansingPaulNBC’s senior White House correspondent Chris Jansing was in Guatemala this week, accompanying Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on his first international medical mission. Paul, who is an ophthalmologist, performed eye surgeries on people in need. Jansing will report on the humanitarian and political ramifications of the trip, as Paul eyes a run for the White House in 2016.

Jansing conducted multiple interviews with Sen. Paul exploring his political motivations for the mission in addition to immigration reform, U.S. health care, education, and 2016 politics. The interview will air this Sunday on “Meet the Press.” As we told you yesterday, Jansing will host Sunday’s program.

Justice Department Opens Criminal Investigation Into James Foley Execution

JimFoley304Attorney General Eric Holder announced today the Department of Justice is taking action following the beheading of journalist James Foley.

“The Justice department is actively pursuing justice in this case,” Holder said in a speech this morning. “We have an open criminal investigation. And those that would perpetrate such acts need to understand something. This Justice Department, this Department of Defense, this nation; we have long memories and our reach is very wide. We will not forget what happened and people will be held accountable, one way or the other.”

Yesterday, President Obama condemned the murder of the GlobalPost journalist by the terrorist group ISIS. “We share a common security and a common set of values that are rooted in the opposite of what we saw yesterday, and we will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace with it a sense of hope and civility,”

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Greta Van Susteren Has Advice for Pres. Obama Following Foley Statement

greta-van-susterenFollowing President Obama’s statement on the beheading of journalist James Foley, Greta Van Susteren took to GretaWire to advise the president.

“Time for President Obama to cut his vacation short and come home to DC,” Greta wrote in her headline. She added her two cents on the attire the president wore during his statement on Foley. “And he could put on a tie when he is talking about the beheading – this vacation casual is unacceptable in the face of this atrocity.”

And by the way, I am all for casual clothes — but he IS the President of the United States and he IS talking about a beheading of an American, not the annual Easter egg roll. Put on a tie. All eyes are on the President and he needs to convey the right message on all levels.

We’ll be on the lookout tonight to see if Greta has more to say on the subject on “On the Record.”

Obama: James Foley Execution ‘Shocks the Conscience of the Entire World’

President Obama took the podium today in Martha’s Vineyard to speak about James Foley, the American journalist who was beheaded by ISIS in a video released yesterday. The U.S. this morning verified the authenticity of the video, which also shows another captive American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and warns that he will be next to die.

“Friends and allies around the world, we share a common security and a common set of values that are rooted in the opposite of what we saw yesterday, and we will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace with it a sense of hope and civility,” Obama said. “That’s what Jim Foley stood for. A man who lived his work, who courageously told the stories of his fellow human beings, who was liked and loved by friends and family. Today, the American people will all say a prayer for those who loved Jim. All of us feel the ache of his absence, all of us mourn his loss.”

George Stephanopolus anchored ABC News’ special report, with Jonathan Karl on Martha’s Vineyard. Cynthia McFadden anchored a special report on NBC, with Kristen Welker on Martha’s Vineyard. CBS delivered a special report with Scott Pelley anchoring and Major Garrett on Martha’s Vineyard. Bill Hemmer anchored a special report for Fox Broadcast Network.

Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and Al Jazeera America all took the statement live.

Larry King Probably Won’t Be Moderating Any Presidential Debates in 2016

Larry King has interviewed several living and departed U.S. presidents, but it seems the former CNN host is having his doubts about today’s motivation for leadership.

Earlier this year, King predicted Hillary Clinton will be elected president in 2016 “barring the unforeseen.”

Pres. Obama: ‘Police Should Not be Bullying or Arresting Journalists’

In a press conference from Martha’s Vineyard this afternoon, President Obama commented on the situation on Iraq and delivered his first public remarks on the escalation of violence in Ferguson, where an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by police Saturday.

The President addressed the media’s role in Ferguson, which has which has been in the headlines today after two reporters were arrested and an Al Jazeera America crew was tear gassed last night. “Here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground,” Obama said.

NBC’s Lester Holt anchored a special report from New York with Kristen Welker on Martha’s Vineyard and Ron Allen reporting from Ferguson. Scott Pelley anchored a CBS special report, with Major Garrett reporting from Martha’s Vineyard. On ABC, David Muir anchored with Martha Raddatz in Washington, Jonathan Karl in Martha’s Vineyard and Steve Osunsami in Ferguson.

MSNBC, Fox News, CNN and Al Jazeera America all took the statement live.

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