On Monday's NBC Today, news reader Natalie Morales hyped how "Republican infighting broke out this weekend at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference." In the report that followed, political director Chuck Todd bolstered the meme: "...the party is trying to rehabilitate its image, solve an identity crisis, and it means that feuds are breaking out all over..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Todd particularly focused on one such "feud" between Sarah Palin and Karl Rove, with the headline on screen throughout the segment reading: "Family Feud; Sarah Palin & Karl Rove Trade Barbs at CPAC." Todd derisively remarked that while Palin "stole the show" at CPAC, she was "playing more the role of entertainer and stand-up comedian than of serious politician."
Near the end of the brief report, Todd did note, "CPAC wasn't all feuds though," only to tout how "Jeb Bush offered some tough love to party." Bush's entire CPAC address was stripped down to a single negative sound bite: "All too often [Republicans are] associated with being anti-everything."
Todd also eagerly promoted the GOP "releasing to the public a brutal internal autopsy of what went wrong in the 2012 election."
On Friday's Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander similarly used CPAC to declare an "identity crisis" in the GOP, "with no clear path to widening its appeal."
Here is a full transcript of the March 18 report:
NATALIE MORALES: Republican infighting broke out this weekend at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. NBC's news political director Chuck Todd has the very latest. Good morning, Chuck.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Family Feud; Sarah Palin & Karl Rove Trade Barbs at CPAC]
CHUCK TODD: Good morning, Natalie. You know, this morning the Republican Party is releasing to the public a brutal internal autopsy of what went wrong in the 2012 election. It's a long list of mistakes that includes some potential ideas for reform. But as you just brought up, the party is trying to rehabilitate its image, solve an identity crisis, and it means that feuds are breaking out all over, including one between Karl Rove and Sarah Palin.
Sarah Palin stole the show at this weekend's CPAC convention, playing more the role of entertainer and stand-up comedian than of serious politician.
SARAH PALIN [TAKES SIP FROM A BIG GULP]: Oh, Bloomberg's not around, our Big Gulp's safe.
TODD: Her remarks included a direct shot at Karl Rove.
PALIN: The last thing we need is Washington, D.C. vetting our candidates. If these experts, who keep losing elections yet keep getting rehired, raking in millions...the architects can head on back to – they can head on back to the great Lone Star State and put their name on some ballot.
TODD: Rove fired back, reminding Palin of her political resume.
PALIN: If she can play in primaries, other people can play in primaries. If I did run for office and win, I'd serve out my term, I wouldn't leave office mid-term.
TODD: CPAC wasn't all feuds though, Jeb Bush offered some tough love to party.
JEB BUSH: All too often we're associated with being anti-everything.
TODD: But neither Bush nor Palin scored with conservatives looking toward the 2016 presidential race. It was two freshman senators, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, who took the top spots in the CPAC straw poll. As for that Republican Party autopsy, among the big reforms the RNC is putting forward for 2016, limiting the number of primary debates to less than a dozen and moving up its convention to late June or mid-July, Natalie.
MORALES: Alright, Chuck Todd, thanks so much.