NBC Uses Obama Re-election Bid to Pressure GOP Candidates to Announce; No Mention of President's Weak Poll Numbers
At the top of Monday's Today on NBC, co-host Matt Lauer touted "breaking news" of President Obama announcing his re-election bid: "...the expected announcement comes with a prediction, he could become the first candidate ever to raise a billion dollars." Lauer then added: "Will Republican hopefuls sitting on the sidelines be compelled to dive in as well?"
While fill-in co-host Ann Curry noted the announcement was "not a surprise" the broadcast still lead with a full report on the topic. Like Lauer, White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie highlighted Obama's fundraising efforts while noting the lack of formal announcements from Republican candidates: "The President is already planning fundraising trips this month to Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, while the Republican race is still off to a slower start."
A sound bite was featured from Washington Post political analyst Chris Cillizza, who predicted: "I think the President announcing or forming his committee to raise money will, in fact, be an alarm, a wake-up call for some of these Republicans to say, 'I better get in now because I'm starting to lag behind and that's always dangerous.'"
Meanwhile, the report failed to discuss the President's actual chances for re-election, making no mention of his weak poll numbers. The latest Gallup poll shows Obama's approval and disapproval ratings tied at 46%, hardly a strong position for an incumbent president.
Here is a full transcript of the April 4 segment:
7:00AM ET TEASE:
MATT LAUER: He's in. President Obama has kicked off his re-election bid in a new web video this morning. And the expected announcement comes with a prediction, he could become the first candidate ever to raise a billion dollars. Will Republican hopefuls sitting on the sidelines be compelled to dive in as well?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Breaking News]
7:03AM ET TEASE:
ANN CURRY: And today's announcement that the President will seek re-election is not a surprise, but the timing is a bit unexpected, Matt.
MATT LAUER: That's right, the new web video was posted on the campaign website overnight and now NBC News has learned the President plans to file the appropriate paperwork this morning, making it all official. Again, not unexpected. We'll get the very latest from the White House in a live report coming up straight ahead.
7:04AM ET SEGMENT:
MATT LAUER: President Obama announcing his plans to seek re-election in 2012. NBC's White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie has the details on this. Savannah, good morning to you.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Good morning, Matt. Not a surprise, as you and Ann said. The President's been reorganizing for months now, setting the stage for a campaign that will be headquartered in Chicago, not here in Washington, D.C. Still, this morning he made it official. the President launched his re-election campaign early Monday morning with this web video.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It is 2012, the election.
BARACK OBAMA: Contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn't a person here who would trade places with any other nation on earth.
GUTHRIE: The President is already planning fundraising trips this month to Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, while the Republican race is still off to a slower start.
NEWT GINGRICH: We're not yet running. We're looking at it carefully.
HALEY BARBOUR: I'm not going to make a decision until the end of April.
SARAH PALIN: I don't think that there needs to be a rush, still, to get out there as a declared candidate.
MICHELE BACHMANN: I won't be making that decision, I don't think, until sometime this summer.
CHRIS CILLIZZA: I think the President announcing or forming his committee to raise money will, in fact, be an alarm, a wake-up call for some of these Republicans to say, 'I better get in now because I'm starting to lag behind and that's always dangerous.'
GUTHRIE: With a government shutdown looming this Friday, the President worked the phones over the weekend giving the leaders of the House and Senate a version of the message he delivered publically late last week.
OBAMA: If these budget negotiations break down, we could end up having to shut down the government just at a time when the economy is starting to recover.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Government Shutdown; Can Congress Compromise on Cuts by Friday?]
GUTHRIE: Democrats say the two sides have tentatively agreed to slash $33 billion from this year's budget but remain deeply divided over where to cut.
HARRY REID [SEN. D-NV]: We've agreed on a number. Let's work to get that number done. Republican leadership in the House has to make a decision whether they're going to do the right thing for the country or do the right thing for the Tea Party.
GUTHRIE: Republicans say any talk of a deal is premature.
JEFF SESSIONS [SEN. R-AL]: Mr. Boehner, the Speaker, has indicated that he has not reached an agreement. So has Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader. So I think that negotiations continue and they need to continue.
GUTHRIE: And believe it or not, this is not the only budget fight, this shutdown looming on Friday has to do with this year's budget but we still have next year's budget to deal with. And tomorrow the Republican House budget chair will unveil his plan for next year's budget with more than $4 trillion in cuts, Matt.
LAUER: Alright, Savannah Guthrie at the White House. Savannah, thank you very much.
— Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.