NBC's Roker on Inaugural Yelling at Obama and Biden: A 'Pretty Special' Moment
After shouting like an excited groupie at President Obama and Vice President Biden during NBC live coverage of Monday's inaugural parade, weatherman Al Roker reflected on the incident during Tuesday's Today: "To be acknowledged by the President, a handshake from the Vice President on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I think, was pretty special....I was thinking about my folks and they were looking down, and I think pretty pleased." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Discussing it at the top of the show, Roker declared: "It was an odd moment. But I was very grateful and very appreciative. The President acknowledging, and then the Vice President." He also briefly expressed some regret: "How embarrassing actually, now that I watch it." But his fellow Today cast members quickly reassured him, with news reader Natalie Morales proclaiming: "No, it was great. We all loved it."
Morales explained: "Of course, Brian Williams was egging you on." Later, they played a full clip of Roker being pushed by Williams and Meet the Press moderator David Gregory to get the attention of Obama and Biden. Williams can be heard remarking: "No pressure on Al Roker, but anything less than an interview here will be considered a failure." Gregory chimed in: "Can Al get a strong point and a thumb's up? I think that's – that would be strong."
After Roker managed to shout Obama a question about the weather, Williams gushed: "There you have it, the first interview with the newly reinaugurated 44th President of the United States."
As Biden approached, Williams again prodded Roker: "Al Roker, let's double down. See what you can do with the Vice President."
After Roker got a handshake from the Vice President, Williams announced: "Today show meteorologist and chief White House correspondent, Al Roker."
Following the clip, Guthrie described the whole exchange as "really cool" and observed that Roker was "pretty proud." That prompted Roker to declare how "special" it was.
Back in 2009, during the fawning live coverage of Obama's 1st inaugural, Roker confessed to Williams: "It was one of the most moving moments in my life, to come across that bridge with this group of kids I've never met before, but we were all together. And that's the sense you get here. We're at the parade route where the President's going to review the parade – this sense of family, of the country coming together. That's what people are looking for, I think."
Here is a transcript of the January 22 Today discussion:
LAUER: So here's the deal. You want to get the attention of the President and the Vice President on inaugural day. What do you do? Who you gonna call?
GUTHRIE: There's only really one person you call: Al Roker. It happened to him yesterday. And all he really needed was just a teeny, tiny bit of encouragement from Brian Williams and David Gregory. Take a look.
[CLIP OF INAUGURAL PARADE COVERAGE]
BRIAN WILLIAMS: No pressure on Al Roker, but anything...
WILLIAMS: ...less than an interview here will be considered a failure.
ROKER: Oh, thank you very much. Well, I think we can pretty much assume that it's going to be a failure.
DAVID GREGORY: Can Al get a strong point and a thumb's up? I think that's – that would be strong.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think that's the best we can hope for at this point.
ROKER: Mr. President! Mr. President! Mr. President! Mr. President! How's it going? How's – is the weather good? Do you like it? Is that fantastic? Alright, Mr. President.
GREGORY: That's huge.
WILLIAMS: There you have it, the first interview with the newly reinaugurated 44th President of the United States.
ROKER: Okay? Okay?
WILLIAMS: Wow. That was, I think, an interview.
ROKER : Are you duly impressed ?
WILLIAMS: Al Roker, let's double down. See what you can do with the Vice President.
ROKER: I'm going to give it a try. Mr. Vice president! Mr. Vice president! Hey, how you doing?! Come on, come say – come on! They won't let you?!
[BIDEN COMES OVER FOR A HANDSHAKE]
ROKER: That's it! Yes! Yes!
WILLIAMS: Wow. Wow.
ROKER [DROPS MICROPHONE AND WALKS AWAY]: I'm done.
WILLIAMS: Today show meteorologist and chief White House correspondent, Al Roker.
[END OF CLIP]
NATALIE MORALES: Never bet against Al Roker. There you go.
ROKER: My predecessor, Willard Scott, actually had set the bar. I think it was '88 when he got Barbara Bush to come over and kiss him. So, you know.
LAUER: Can we run the portion of the tape where the Vice President – there's Willard, back in days gone by, that's right.
MORALES: He got a kiss. Alright, Al.
LAUER: If you look at the portion where the Vice President comes over to you yesterday – I don't know if we can catch that last little second of it. Notice the way, as he gets to you, he spreads his legs apart and braces himself, because he's thinking, "This guy could pull me over the barricade, if I'm not careful." Watch how he braces himself there.
ROKER: He hedges his bet.
GUTHRIE: He has to plant the legs.
LAUER: Because you're an unknown quantity at that moment.
ROKER: You know, if he's thinking 2016, that was a bad move.
GUTHRIE: It was really cool. And you said right after – you know, you were pretty proud.
ROKER: Well, you know what? It's – to be acknowledged by the President, a handshake from the Vice President on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I think, was pretty special.
MORALES: But in 2009 you got a wave from the President as well. Got some love back then.
ROKER: I was thinking about my folks and they were looking down, and I think pretty pleased.