Today Show Highlights Palin's Negative Poll Numbers in Tease of Her Reality Show

Norah O'Donnell, on Monday's Today, couldn't resist taking a couple of shots at Sarah Palin, in her review of the former Alaska governor's TLC reality show, as the NBC correspondent trumpeted a recent Gallup poll that "More than half of Americans, 52 percent view her negatively, making her the most divisive of all of the potential candidates in the 2012 Republican field." O'Donnell also aired a clip of a Tribune staff reporter complaining that TLC was "effectively giving a campaign advertising" to a 2012 aspirant, as if the eight-part series could even come close to matching the positive buzz the current Oval Office occupant received from the liberal media in 2008.

The theme of Palin's popularity got a jump start, at the top of the show, as Today co-anchor Matt Lauer teased the upcoming segment this way: "Sarah Palin's new reality show debuted last night at a time when a new survey shows 52 percent of Americans hold a negative view of the former Alaska governor." In her segment O'Donnell featured clips from the reality show throughout her report, including one that featured Palin's description of husband Todd building a fence to hide their house from the prying eyes of investigative journalist/stalker and one time Today show guest Joe McGinniss. After that soundbite O'Donnell then proceeded to feature another Palin critic, Karl Rove. His criticism and her response are seen in the following excerpt:

(video after the jump)

NORAH O'DONNELL: Palin's political standing has taken a beating recently. A new Gallup poll shows the number of Americans viewing Palin unfavorably hit a new high. More than half of Americans, 52 percent view her negatively, making her the most divisive of all of the potential candidates in the 2012 Republican field. But is a reality show the way to prove presidential readiness? Karl Rove said no, in a recent interview. "There are high standards that the American people have for the presidency and they require a certain level of gravitas." Palin's response?

SARAH PALIN: Those standards have to be high for someone who would ever want to run for president - like wasn't Ronald Reagan an actor?

The following is O'Donnell's full report as it was aired on the November 15 Today show:

[7:16am]

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Sarah Palin is another Republican being mentioned for the presidential race in 2012 and last night her new reality show made its debut. NBC's Norah O'Donnell has details. Norah, good morning.

[On screen headline:"Reality TV Goes Rogue, Sarah Palin Makes Her Prime-Time Debut"]

NORAH O'DONNELL: Hey good morning, Meredith. The producers of Sarah Palin's Alaska call it "a family adventure show," but it was also an advertisement for Alaska that showcased Sarah Palin as a rugged outdoors woman. All positive images that will no doubt shape her image if she runs for president. In the first episode of Sarah Palin's Alaska, the former vice presidential nominee is the ultimate frontiers woman, watching bears wrestle.

SARAH PALIN: It was amazing to watch. This mama grizzly, brown bear really, protecting her cub.

O'DONNELL: Fishing for salmon.

SARAH PALIN: So who's gonna catch the first fish?

O'DONNELL: Even scaling dangerous glaciers.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You've always wanted to be a rock climber, Sarah!

SARAH PALIN: Was it a rock climber or rock star?

O'DONNELL: She's a TV star too, with a studio inside her home.

SARAH PALIN: This is so much better than the shot against that wall.

O'DONNELL: And her husband playing cameraman and confidant.

TODD PALIN: I mean business is about rolling the dice


O'DONNELL: Living next door is Joe McGinniss, the investigative journalist.

SARAH PALIN: Todd a his buddies got out there and built a 14-foot fence. Others could look at and say, "Oh this is what we need to do to secure our nation's border."

O'DONNELL: McGinniss is writing a book on Palin.

SARAH PALIN: It's just none of his flippin' business.

O'DONNELL: TLC executives call the picturesque eight part series a docu-travelogue. But Palin's critics see politics involved.

MATEA GOLD, STAFF REPORTER, TRIBUNE WASHINGTON BUREAU: This is effectively giving a campaign advertising for someone who perhaps will have a presidential bid coming up.

O'DONNELL: Palin's political standing has taken a beating recently. A new Gallup poll shows the number of Americans viewing Palin unfavorably hit a new high. More than half of Americans, 52 percent view her negatively, making her the most divisive of all of the potential candidates in the 2012 Republican field. But is a reality show the way to prove presidential readiness? Karl Rove said no, in a recent interview. "There are high standards that the American people have for the presidency and they require a certain level of gravitas." Palin's response?

SARAH PALIN: Those standards have to be high for someone who would ever want to run for president - like wasn't Ronald Reagan an actor?

O'DONNELL: And despite criticizing the media coverage of her children, Palin invites the cameras inside her home. Although Bristol currently seen on ABC's Dancing with the Stars is absent for the first episode, Palin's feisty sidekick, nine-year-old daughter Piper takes center stage.

PIPER PALIN: My mom is super busy. She is addicted to the Blackberry.

O'DONNELL: And cameras catch a teenage boy trying to sneak upstairs with Palin's 16-year-old daughter Willow.

SARAH PALIN: See this gate is not just for Trig. It's for no boys go upstairs.

O'DONNELL: Now later this month, Palin is heading out on a 16-stop tour in 14 states to promote her new book America By Heart. The tour includes two stops in Iowa and one in South Carolina - states key to the Republicans nomination. Meredith?

VIEIRA: Alright Norah O'Donnell, thank you very much.

O'DONNELL: And despite criticizing the media coverage of her children, Palin invites the cameras inside her home. Although Bristol currently seen on ABC's Dancing with the Stars is absent for the first episode, Palin's feisty sidekick, nine-year-old daughter Piper takes center stage.

PIPER PALIN: My mom is super busy. She is addicted to the Blackberry.

O'DONNELL: And cameras catch a teenage boy trying to sneak upstairs with Palin's 16-year-old daughter Willow.

SARAH PALIN: See this gate is not just for Trig. It's for no boys go upstairs.

O'DONNELL: Now later this month, Palin is heading out on a 16-stop tour in 14 states to promote her new book America By Heart. The tour includes two stops in Iowa and one in South Carolina - states key to the Republicans nomination. Meredith?

VIEIRA: Alright Norah O'Donnell, thank you very much.

—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.