Hawking His Pro-Obama Book on NBC's 'Today,' Jonathan Alter Applauds President's 'Perseverance'

Appearing on Friday's NBC Today to push his new 448-page love letter to President Obama about the 2012 election – laughably titled, The Center Holds – left-wing Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Alter gushed: "I think this is, you know, partly just to place this in the history of this country. It was an extraordinarily important election....And I think there's also a personal lesson from Barack Obama, and that's of perseverance..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

At the top of the promotional segment, weatherman Al Roker teed up Alter's sales pitch: "President Obama in 2010, when his party faced humiliating losses in the midterm election....[his] re-election certainly in doubt. So, how did he end up coming out on top and what can we learn from this?" The headline on-screen announced: "Lessons Learned Through Obama's Leadership."

Roker turned to Alter: "You know and this isn't so much about politics as it is about, in a sense, perseverance." Alter responded: "It really is. You know he was facing 10% unemployment a couple of years ago, real unpopularity, and he built the greatest political organization in American history, 2 million volunteers."

Alter then credited the Today audience with keeping Obama in the White House: "[Obama] figured out how to have the right message to middle class voters and to appeal especially to young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women....So essentially, your viewers were the ones who put him back in office."

Ironically, it was Alter who recently warned that members of the White House staff have "an unhealthy love" for President Obama.

Co-host Willie Geist invited Alter to further expound on the 2012 election and bash the GOP: "What did the President do, and in turn, the Republicans do, to help the President win the women vote?" Alter happily proclaimed:

Well, you know, some of it was self-inflicted wounds by the Republicans. You remember when Rush Limbaugh attacked this young woman, Sandra Fluke, just a Georgetown student, called her a "slut"....And the Republicans, including Mitt Romney, did not denounce Rush Limbaugh because they were afraid of him. Then later, Todd Akin talked about "legitimate rape," a candidate out in Missouri, then shortly before the election, another candidate in Indiana, Richard Mourdock, said that it was "God's will" when women were raped. And at that moment, Mitt Romney had an ad for Mourdock on TV, which he didn't pull and he didn't denounce Mourdock. And at the same time he's saying, "I want to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood."

Well there's millions of women who get their women's health services through Planned Parenthood. And the President in turn, you know, went out and campaigned very hard among women and connected well to them.

Pitching his Obama propaganda near the end of the exchange, Alter arrogantly asserted: "You want somebody, I hope me, to come along and put everything that's happened in political life in the last couple years in some kind of context so it's comprehensible for people."

While the morning show provided three minutes and forty six seconds to Alter's sycophantic praise of Obama, it only offered twenty seconds to the Obama Justice Department targeting journalists for investigation. There was no mention of the continuing IRS and Benghazi scandals plaguing administration on the Friday program.


Here is a full transcript of the May 31 segment:

9:41AM ET

WILLIE GEIST: We've all had to eat humble pie at one point or another in our lives, but most of us haven't had to do it in front of the entire country.

AL ROKER: Well, that was President Obama in 2010, when his party faced humiliating losses in the midterm election. At that point, the President's re-election certainly in doubt. So, how did he end up coming out on top and what can we learn from this?

Jonathan Alter writes about it in his new book, "The Center Holds." Jonathan, good to see you.

JONATHAN ALTER: Good to see you guys.

GEIST: Hey, Jon.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: "The Center Holds"; Lessons Learned Through Obama's Leadership]

ROKER: You know and this isn't so much about politics as it is about, in a sense, perseverance.

JONATHAN ALTER: It really is. You know he was facing 10% unemployment a couple of years ago, real unpopularity, and he built the greatest political organization in American history, 2 million volunteers. He figured out how to have the right message to middle class voters and to appeal especially to young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women. Women were key, he got 55% of the women's vote. So essentially, your viewers were the ones who put him back in office.

GEIST: Well, you mentioned 55% of women went for President Obama. That was flipped if you looked at men. What did the President do, and in turn, the Republicans do, to help the President win the women vote?

ALTER: Well, you know, some of it was self-inflicted wounds by the Republicans. You remember when Rush Limbaugh attacked this young woman, Sandra Fluke, just a Georgetown student, called her a "slut." And the Republicans-

ROKER: Yeah, and that they wanted to watch in case she was practicing prostitution.

ALTER: Right. And the Republicans, including Mitt Romney, did not denounce Rush Limbaugh because they were afraid of him. Then later, Todd Akin talked about "legitimate rape," a candidate out in Missouri, then shortly before the election, another candidate in Indiana, Richard Mourdock, said that it was "God's will" when women were raped. And at that moment, Mitt Romney had an ad for Mourdock on TV, which he didn't pull and he didn't denounce Mourdock. And at the same time he's saying, "I want to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood."

Well there's millions of women who get their women's health services through Planned Parenthood. And the President in turn, you know, went out and campaigned very hard among women and connected well to them. And of course, Michelle Obama helped.

ROKER: Yeah, you had mentioned that. Let's – for the folks who didn't vote for the President, why should they buy this book? What is the message really about in this book?

ALTER: Well, I think this is, you know, partly just to place this in the history of this country. It was an extraordinarily important election, whoever one voted for, and these events go by so fast, you see headlines. You want somebody, I hope me, to come along and put everything that's happened in political life in the last couple years in some kind of context so it's comprehensible for people.

And I think there's also a personal lesson from Barack Obama, and that's of perseverance. You know this is a guy who was essentially abandoned by, first his father, then his mother went and was doing research, raised by his grandparents. They were on food stamps for a while. He was able to make it all the way up and then when he's behind the eight ball, looks like he's going to be a one-term President and a fluke and a footnote and a Jimmy Carter, he's able to come back. And so whatever – whether one likes or doesn't like Obama, whether you voted for him or not, that story of perseverance is really, really important.

And also, I've just got a lot of fun stories in the book. Michelle Obama for instance, you know-

ROKER: We're going to have to hold it there because we got a break, because there's a lot in there. Okay, but-

ALTER: Father's day.

ROKER: That's right, Father's Day. Great book.

GEIST: Father's Day.

ROKER: Father's Day.

ALTER: If you don't like it, your father might.

ROKER: The book is Center Holds. Jonathan Alter, thank you very much.

ALTER: Thanks, guys.

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