During a panel discussion on Wednesday's NBC Today, advertising executive Donny Deutsch ripped into Republican National Convention keynote speaker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: "I'm gonna talk about the Christie brand. Bullying will never be accepted across this country....If you're a woman, if you're a minority...they don't want somebody up there going, 'This is the way it is.' His brand will never sell to the country." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Savannah Guthrie attempted to present a different perspective: "It's interesting you say that, because one man's bullying is another man's straight talk." Deutsch immediately dismissed any such point of view: "No, it's not...no, this is a bully....This guy will never, ever get elected President of the United States. Remember I told you that....this brand will never sell."
Fellow liberal panelists, attorney Star Jones and NBC chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman, eagerly joined in on the Christie bashing. Jones ranted: "I know this sounds horrible, but he's a big dude. And a big dude with the finger pointing in the face of a woman, that never is going to go over well. It just does not." Snyderman lectured: "[He] went into sort of a mean boy act....I think he is a bully....he has to remember that leaders are supposed to have a certain amount of social decorum..."
Deutsch also made sure to get in a parting shot at former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who gave the RNC keynote in 2008: "Two words also, Rudy Giuliani, what happened to him? Didn't really work, did it?" Jones labeled Giuliani a "bully" and Snyderman followed: "Bully, gone."
Guthrie led off the panel discussion by noting criticism of Christie's address to the GOP convention: "Some in the room were a little bit peeved that it took him about 15 minutes to even mention Mitt Romney. They thought it was a little too self-serving." Jones chimed in, citing left-wing MSNBC host Rachel Maddow: "She said that he spoke so long about himself because he didn't find Mitt Romney interesting enough to talk about."
At the top of the show, co-host Matt Lauer teased: "Why did Governor Christie's speech rub some Republicans the wrong way?" In a later report, chief White House correspondent touted critiques: "Christie's first reference to Mitt Romney didn't come until well after the midpoint of his address....The buzz on the convention floor was that many of Christie's lines seemed to point towards his own future presidential run."
On ABC's Good Morning America, correspondent David Muir made a point of noting: "At times, it seemed that Chris Christie spent more time speaking of himself....It would be 17 minutes before he would mention the man running for president." In an interview with Florida Senator Marco Rubio that followed, co-host George Stephanopoulos observed: "Some people noting, though, that it took him a while to get to Mitt Romney. That he didn't do enough to actually build the case for Mitt Romney."
In an interview with Rudy Giuliani on CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O'Donnell similarly declared: "We heard from Chris Christie who not – barely mentioned Mitt Romney....for the first 20 minutes he really talked about himself. I think someone tweeted that he mentioned, he said 'I' 37 times; he only said 'Mitt Romney,' like, seven times. Most of the speech was about Chris Christie."
However, earlier on the CBS morning show, correspondent Jan Crawford gave a glowing review: "Christie's speech was pitch perfect, a speech for our time. He talked directly to all those people, Charlie and Norah, who are worried that our best days are behind us....It was 'never, never give up,' almost, like Winston Churchill. But also, Morning in America, Reagan, we can get to those better days."
Here is a full transcript of the August 29 Today's Professionals panel segment:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Back now with Today's Professionals, our team of power players chewing over the hottest headlines. Attorney Star Jones, ad exec Donny Deutsch and NBC's medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman are all assembled and ready to chat. Let's talk about the RNC, Chris Christie gave the big keynote address. It was hotly anticipated. But some in the room were a little bit peeved that it took him about 15 minutes to even mention Mitt Romney. They thought it was a little too self-serving.
NANCY SNYDERMAN: What did they expect?
GUTHRIE: Well, I don't know, is that fair criticism?
STAR JONES: What did Rachel Maddow say? She said that he spoke so long about himself because he didn't find Mitt Romney interesting enough to talk about. It was really a me, me, me speech, teed up for 2016.
GUTHRIE: And you think that was inappropriate?
NANCY SNYDERMAN: Look, I think he did what he was supposed to do. He came out, he did talk a lot about himself, explaining who he was, his mom, his dad, how he speaks the unvarnished truth. And then he took how he speaks the truth to how the Republicans speak the truth. Then went into sort of a mean boy act. And he teed himself up, I think, for 2016 and he played the convention role that he was supposed to.
DONNY DEUTSCH: I'm gonna talk about the Christie brand. Bullying will never be accepted across this country. It's very interesting, there was a clip of him when a woman once asked him about, 'Do your kids go to private school?' You know, it was an education issue.
JONES: Oh, that was out on the boardwalk, yeah, I saw that.
DEUTSCH: And he goes, 'None of your business.' If you're a woman, if you're a minority, this entire country is getting more and more empowered in the digital age, they don't want somebody up there going, 'This is the way it is.' His brand will never sell to the country.
GUTHRIE: It's interesting you say that, because one man's bullying is another man's straight talk.
DEUTSCH: No, it's not. It's interesting, there's a difference – no, this is a bully. And it's very – it makes for good TV. But particularly because with the emerging, everybody's empowered because of the digital age, they don't want the soapbox guy. This guy will never, ever get elected President of the United States. Remember I told you that.
JONES: And you know, and I gotta tell you, I know this sounds horrible, but he's a big dude. And a big dude with the finger pointing in the face of a woman, that never is going to go over well. It just does not.
DEUTSCH: It's never – and with the emergence with the Latino vote, this brand will never sell. Remember I told you that. We'll play this four years from now.
GUTHRIE: Okay, I don't know if you guys are the swing independent voters.
JONES: No, we aren't.
GUTHRIE: But what do you think, Nancy?
SNYDERMAN: Look, I think he is a bully. We've seen him not be able to back away, even on the boardwalk in New Jersey, when he started walking after a guy and his own security people are saying, 'Governor, come back.' I think he has to remember that leaders are supposed to have a certain amount of social decorum and he's going to have to, in the next four years, find that gentler side of himself.
DEUTSCH: Two words also, Rudy Giuliani, what happened to him?
SNYDERMAN: Bully, gone.
DEUTSCH: Didn't really work, did it?
GUTHRIE: You think the same thing, okay.
GUTHRIE: We shall see.