NBC's 'Today' Spends More Than 11 Minutes Fawning Over Obama Late Night Comedy and College Tour

Throughout the Wednesday broadcast, NBC's Today repeatedly found time to promote President Obama as funny, hip, and connecting with young voters. Touting the President's appearance on NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, co-host Matt Lauer gushed that Obama, "gave our colleague Brian Williams a run for his money when he helped Jimmy Slow Jam the News."

Highlighting Obama's tour of college campuses, Lauer and fellow co-host Ann Curry conducted a four-minute live interview with a Colorado college student who met the President when her yogurt was accidentally spilled on him. Lauer teased the segment at the top of the show: "And what a mess! A college freshman gets the chance of a lifetime to meet the President. And then spills her food on him....The President laughed it off, saying at least she's got a good story to tell. She does. And she'll tell it to us in a live interview."

At the top of the 8 a.m. et hour, news anchor Natalie Morales declared that Obama's "day spent courting young voters" had made him "a hot topic online." Besides the yogurt spill seen round' the world, there was "also the goofy photo with a fan on Instagram," not to mention the "surging video" of Obama's Late Night appearance.

In other news briefs, Morales parroted the President's talking points on student loans: "In a move to woo younger voters, President Obama revealed that he and Michelle finished paying back their student loans only eight years ago."


In the interview with Colorado University freshman Kolbi Zerbest about what Lauer dubbed "Yogurt-gate," he and Curry demanded an in-depth account of the incident:

LAUER: This all seemed like it started really well. You were in the right place at the right time. You got to get up close and personal with the President. And then it took a kind of messy turn. What happened?

ZERBEST: Well, basically, Secret Service brought us a little bit closer to where President Obama was supposed to be coming out of the restaurant, and so, we were just waiting there patiently, and then he came down this line of people, and we knew we were going to be pretty like – we were pretty close so we knew we'd eventually get to shake his hand. And so, as soon as he comes towards us a little bit more, paparazzi come rushing behind us and right as I'm shaking his hand the paparazzi kicks the bowl that I had placed on the ground onto the President. And it was mine, so, obviously I took the blame for it.

CURRY: In fact, that was impressive. You jumped right in there and said, 'Hey, this is my fault.' And – and – I think that he was impressed by that.

ZERBEST: Well, I felt bad. Well, hopefully. Because it technically was my fault that I'd placed it there. But, I mean, I'm not the one who spilled it on him or kicked it on him. As some of the stories have been told. So, yeah.

LAUER: But then it resulted in a pretty long back and forth between you and the President, you actually got to carry on...

ZERBEST: Yeah.

LAUER: ...a conversation with the commander in chief.

ZERBEST: Yeah. Which was really surprising. I didn't really expect that. I just expected him to shrug it off, try and clean it up a little bit, and then just get on with walking to his car. To leave. So, yeah, it was pretty exciting being able to talk to him for a minute or two, to like try and exchange what just happened.

CURRY: Kolbi, it's hard to see from the videotape, but just how much yogurt got on the President?

ZERBEST: It wasn't a lot. Honestly, more of it got on me, the ground, and on the Secret Service. So – it got on his trousers a little bit, though.

In an earlier report, White House correspondent Kristen Welker explained: "Now, the President laughed it off. And the White House really is too, they say these types of mishaps are always a possibility, especially since the President is frequently interacting with excited crowds, and shaking a lot of hands."

Discussing Obama 'Slow Jamming the News' with Jimmy Fallon, Lauer observed: "It seems like a lighthearted moment but there's a real calculation. I mean, the President obviously reaching out to Jimmy Fallon's audience and those young voters who were – he's going to need, pretty much, in the fall."

Taking a line from the comedy sketch, Morales wondered: "Can we start calling him the Preezy of the United Steezy?" Lauer replied: "Not to his face." Curry chimed in: "Yeah, let's do that, I like it."

In comparison to the adulation over Obama, Mitt Romney's string of Tuesday primary wins was only given a mere 38 seconds of coverage between two news briefs during the entire four-hour morning program.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC