During a panel discussion on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer asked of the Occupy Wall Street protests: "What's the civics lesson in this for our kids as they're watching this on TV?" News anchor Natalie Morales argued: "...there's a huge civics lesson....the idea of having that civil discourse is important to teach our kids and it's something in history we've seen."
In contrast, moments later while discussing the latest Republican presidential debate, Lauer lectured Mitt Romney and Rick Perry on a heated exchange between them: "My parents, in teaching me manners, taught me, one, don't interrupt, bad on Rick Perry's point, keep your hands to yourself, bad on Mitt Romney's point." Weatherman Al Roker chimed in: "...we're seeing our kids are getting, again, this anti-teachable moment. Give somebody a chance to talk. They're just talking all over each other."
After championing Occupy Wall Steet, on the GOP candidates, Morales remarked: "I think when you're in a presidential debate like that, the idea is you want to see somebody who's acting presidential, and there is that question of invading somebody's personal space and not being as polite as you should be."
Too bad they weren't more like the polite Wall Street protesters.
Here is a full transcript of the October 21 discussion:
MATT LAUER: We're back now at 8:09 with the kickoff of something new, Trending This Week on Today. We've each selected a story that's generating a lot of buzz in the news and online and we're going to weigh in with our own perspective. Let's get right to it.
First, the Occupy Wall Street movement and what we want our kids to take away from it. They're watching images of people occupying parks and marching through the streets getting arrested, and in some cases, seeming to enjoy it. What's the civics lesson in this for our kids as they're watching this on TV?
NATALIE MORALES: Well, I think there – as a parent, there's a huge civics lesson, and it teaches, you know, what is important about this. What are – I think you have to ask the questions, 'What are they there for, what are the reasons behind this?' And I think the idea of having that civil discourse is important to teach our kids and it's something in history we've seen.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: But I think one of the challenges here is we see the protests, we see the emotion and anger. What – what exactly are they asking for?
AL ROKER: What do they want?
LAUER: Exactly. And is this the way you go about expressing yourself? Let's face it, a lot of parents talking to their kids right now did this same thing...
MORALES: Exactly, in the '60s.
ROKER: Back in the '60s.
LAUER: ...back in the 1960s and '70s.
ROKER: Exactly. And that – and it effected change. But we had – there was a point of it, civil rights, that sort of thing. And here, we don't quite-
LAUER: Well, they will say they have a point to it.
MORALES: They have a point as well.
LAUER: One of the things that's confusing in my house – in my house, my kids think getting arrested is a really bad thing, and they're watching people who are walking, kind of smiling after they have been arrested by police. It's hard to get that message across to them.
GUTHRIE: Bottom line, though, is it means it's good to talk to your kids about it to kind of get into these issues.
LAUER: Exactly. Alright, Savannah, what's on your mind?
GUTHRIE: Okay, the touch seen 'round the world. You guys see the GOP presidential debate in Vegas this week. There was a moment – a very heated moment – between Romney and Perry and as you see, then Romney reaches over and puts his hand on Perry's shoulder and that brought up a lot of talk about, was that appropriate? Did he violate his space? I mean, my personal take was this was a genuine moment of anger between these two candidates. It seemed to me, Romney, this may have been his unconscious way of kind of trying to dispel the tension...
ROKER; He was trying to calm him down.
MORALES: It was definitely a heated moment.
GUTHRIE: ...but it may have escalated it.
LAUER: I look at it as a two-wrongs-don't-make-a-right moment. My parents, in teaching me manners, taught me, one, don't interrupt, bad on Rick Perry's point, keep your hands to yourself, bad on Mitt Romney's point.
ROKER: Exactly. And I think we're seeing our kids are getting, again, this anti-teachable moment. Give somebody a chance to talk. They're just talking all over each other.
MORALES: And then I think when you're in a presidential debate like that, the idea is you want to see somebody who's acting presidential, and there is that question of invading somebody's personal space and not being as polite as you should be.
LAUER: I thought it was a little condescending, the touch, to be honest.
GUTHRIE: A lot of people read it that way. And of course, this reminded me of that famous moment during the debates between Bush and Gore, remember? They were in the middle of a dispute and Gore kind of walks right over to Bush – I think we have the video of it, it was a very awkward moment. So, it is not unprecedented.
MORALES: And in the New York Senate race.
ROKER: Rick Lazio.
MORALES: It was the undoing of his campaign against Hillary Clinton.
LAUER: There's the Bush and Gore moment right there.