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."
In a Tuesday 10 a.m. et NBC News special report on President Obama declaring a state of emergency for Gulf Coast states in the path of Hurricane Isaac, Today co-host Matt Lauer gushed: "Politics 101, you've got your opponents in Tampa and Mitt Romney's about to tell Americans why he should be elected president, if you're the president, you go out and act like the president." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Meet the Press host David Gregory agreed: "Yeah, you do your job." As they both anchored the coverage from the Republican National Convention, Gregory observed that Obama's statement "...happens as there's so much anxiety here among the campaign and the party organizers about how to approach this and the optics of a split-screen, storm coming and a big political party." After the President spoke about the impending storm, Gregory added: "Again, it only underscores how difficult it is for a Republican Party to move forward with this convention, with that potential threat."
In an interview with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer was aghast at an off-the-cuff joke by Mitt Romney on Friday: "...he said, 'No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate,' an obvious reference to the birther debate. Is it – he says it was a joke. Is it funny to kind of pay attention to a fringe group and question the very legitimacy of the President of the United States's citizenship?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Christie replied: "Yeah, but he hasn't. I mean, he has been the clearest, the most affirmative of all the Republican candidates who are running for this nomination, in saying that he didn't think that was an issue." Lauer ignored the fact that President Obama himself has joked about his birth certificate on more than one occasion and that the Obama campaign actually raised money off the issue, selling mugs and t-shirts mocking the conspiracy theory.
In a report for Monday's NBC Today, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd was eager to paint a picture of Republicans in disarray prior to the GOP convention: "The specter of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, which proved so politically damaging to George W. Bush, looms large here in Tampa. It's the latest in a series of distractions that has jolted the Romney campaign off its core economic message..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Sunday's Today, co-host Jenna Wolfe proclaimed: "It's been a tough week for Republicans." As the headline on screen announced "GOP's Hurdles Heading Into Convention," Wolfe proceeded to rattle off supposed evidence of her assertion:
Opening an hour-long special on the Mormon Church for Thursday's NBC Rock Center, anchor Brian Williams proclaimed to viewers: "Most Americans say they know next to nothing about the Mormon Church. Tonight, a rare look inside the lives of modern Mormon families....A church still dealing with the issue of polygamy....And other issues of inequality."
Teasing a report on the history of the Church, Williams promised to answer the question of "why so many Americans still today are suspicious of the religion." Introducing that portion of the broadcast, Williams touted pop culture mocking the faith, starting with a clip of Fox's Family Guy in which lead character Peter Griffin declares: "I'm going to be a Mormon....Come on, nailing a different wife every night. That's a no-brainer."
Eager to keep the Todd Akin controversy alive on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams declared the Missouri Republican's comments were "inflicting unforeseen and great damage on the national party." Correspondent Andrea Mitchell began her report by proclaiming: "...only days before their convention, Republicans remain trapped in a national debate about abortion and rape." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Mitchell quickly attempted to link vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to Akin: "Ryan co-sponsored one bill with Akin that critics say could outlaw all abortions, even for rape victims." She then tried to connect Mitt Romney: "Romney once supported abortion rights, but reversed course before his first run for the White House. In 2007, he embraced anti-abortion activist Dr. John Wilkie, the man who came up with the discredited rape theory that Akin was citing."
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams brought on political director Chuck Todd to give a "damage assessment" for Republicans in the wake of the Todd Akin controversy. Todd attempted to blame the conservative grassroots for the uproar: "...the Tea Party effect....will maybe cost Mitch McConnell a shot at controlling the United States Senate. Their own infighting has done this." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
What Todd failed to mention was that Tea Party Express and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin backed one of Akin's opponents, Sarah Steelman, in the Missouri Republican Senate primary.
In what co-host Matt Lauer billed as a campaign ad "reality check" on Tuesday's NBC Today, a Romney ad criticizing the Obama administration for gutting Welfare reform was dismissed as ineffective, "too complicated" and "Pants on Fire" false. Meanwhile, an Obama ad slamming Romney over taxes was praised for making Romney look like a cross between wealthy Simpson's villain "Mr. Burns" and an "evil" version of Mad Men's Don Draper. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Much of the commentary came from ad critic and MediaPost.com editor-at-large Barbara Lippert. She quickly rejected the Romney ad: "I don't think it's effective because it's such a battle of images....It's too complicated. You have to turn it around in your mind." Then she enthusiastically gushed over the Obama ad and threw in her own nasty jabs at Romney:
During the Today's Professionals panel segment on Tuesday's NBC Today, attorney Star Jones predicted that if Todd Akin continues his Senate run in Missouri, the entire Republican Party will be branded with his controversial remarks: "If he doesn't [get out], the Romney/Ryan ticket is going to be tarred with this feather for the entire campaign. They sponsored bills together that pretty much echo this sentiment." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Moments later, advertising executive Donny Deutsch struck the same tone, warning: "As far as the GOP, this is going to be devastating if he stays in. Because they have two big issues, the Hispanic vote and the female vote, and it gives them the ultimate poster boy. They're in trouble."
At the top of Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams proclaimed: "Firestorm. A Congressman's words about rape rocket across the country...women's issues are front and center again." Introducing the lead story moments later, Williams announced how "suddenly" Republican Todd Akin's comments "exploded well beyond the borders of Missouri."
Correspondent Andrea Mitchell began her report by nationalizing the gaffe made by Akin during a local news interview: "Republicans fear their hopes for the White House and control of the Senate could turn on what happened at a St. Louis TV station..." Mitchell later touted: "In a race where the President had a 15-point advantage with women voters in the last NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Republicans were reeling."
Appearing on Monday's NBC Today, political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd used reports of a Republican congressman skinny dipping during a 2011 trip to Israel to slam the GOP: "...a bunch of freshman House Republicans who came to Washington trying to stop things...create this confrontation with the President over the debt ceiling...created all sorts of economic havoc....they partied, got drunk and one of them went skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Savannah Guthrie teed up Todd by wondering if the actions of Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder on that trip were "a momentary personal embarrassment or does it have worse tidings for the party as a whole?" Todd responded: "This took place two weeks after the paralysis over the debt ceiling. Two weeks after the United States credit rating was downgraded.....It's not exactly what an institution with an approval rating hovering in the teens, on a good day, wants to be showing."
At the top of Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie seized on controversies involving Republican members of Congress and proclaimed: "Hot water....Two distractions for the GOP with the convention now just one week away." Introducing coverage of the incidents, fill-in cost Lester Holt similarly declared: "...some high-profile distractions for the Republican Party. Two congressmen under fire this morning, one for what he did, the other for what he said."
On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, sanctimonious anchor Brian Williams lamented the fact that "spending on 2012 presidential radio and TV ads has now surpassed the half-billion-dollar mark" and proceeded to list other things the money could buy, such as feeding "9.2 million malnourished children for 50 days" or "provide clean water for 500 million children for 40 days."
While Williams's philanthropic suggestions are certainly worthy causes, he only briefly noted where that money actually went: "By and large this money goes to TV stations and networks." NBC and others could always give away the air time for free.
According to TV Guide, Williams himself is the third highest-paid television news personality, hauling in $13 million a year. Maybe he could take a pay cut this year.
On Thursday and Friday, NBC launched an all out assault on Mitt Romney, urging him to release more tax returns. Opening Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams scrambled to resurrect the worn-out line of attack: "Talking taxes. Under intense pressure, Mitt Romney talks about what he has paid." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Introducing the lead story moments later, Williams proclaimed: "It is a topic that won't go away. In the hands of the Democrats, it has dogged Mitt Romney from the start and may follow him all the way to the finish of this campaign." He described Romney's "private life of great wealth" and him being "unwilling to go public with his tax returns beyond the past two years."
In what was billed as a profile of Ann Romney set to air on Thursday's NBC Rock Center, a portion of the interview played on Thursday's Today featured news anchor Natalie Morales grilling the Republican candidate's spouse on taxes: "...she fiercely defended the Romneys' decision not to release tax returns from before 2010. A lot of people still are asking why not be transparent and release more than the 2010 and the estimates for 2011." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Romney responded forcefully: "Have you seen how we're attacked? Have you seen what's happened?" Morales continued to press the issue: "It's been in the press quite a bit. Now are you angry that it's been in the press? I mean, should you not be questioned about your finances?" Romney pushed back: "We have been very transparent to what's legally required of us. But, the more we release, the more we get attacked. The more we get questioned, the more we get pushed."
Reporting for Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, White House correspondent Kristen Welker discussed the "remarkably ugly political week so far" in the presidential campaign following racially-charged comments by Joe Biden, but then touted him as "the ever-outspoken Vice President" who "today doubled down on being the President's other best weapon, attack-dog-in-chief."
In a report for Thursday's NBC Today, Welker similarly proclaimed that Biden had "doubled down on being outspoken" while "still taking heat from Republicans for comments" on Tuesday in which he ranted to a crowd in Virginia that the GOP would "put y'all back in chains" if Mitt Romney won the November election.
Beginning an otherwise positive story on Wednesday's NBC Today about vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's intense exercise regimen, P90X, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell managed to work in this jab: "He's doing a workout you've probably seen all over late night TV. Call it extreme. And we're not talking about his politics here." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In an interview with Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie slammed Paul Ryan's proposed budget: "And the Ryan budget makes some very hard decisions and has some huge spending cuts....But how can you justify in the Ryan budget defense spending that stays flat and then giving a massive tax cut, which predominantly benefits the wealthy?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In reality, Ryan's budget does not include "huge spending cuts," but simply slows the rate of growth of government spending. That was a "nuance" that NBC political director Chuck Todd made sure to point out on Monday as he attempted to diffuse Republican attacks on the President for taking Medicare funds to pay for ObamaCare.
Teeing up Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to bash Paul Ryan on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer lobbed this softball: "Do you think that Paul Ryan's addition to this ticket is the best thing that could happen to President Obama's chances for re-election?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer used an article from The Washington Post's Dan Balz to set up the question and tout Democratic bravado on Ryan's selection as Mitt Romney's running mate: "He said quote, 'There was no one on Romney's short list of contenders that they,' meaning the Obama campaign, 'wanted to run against more than the chairman of the House Budget Committee Paul Ryan.' Do you agree with that assessment?"
Leading off Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams struck a patronizing tone as he noted "things get rough for the new guy on the trail" Paul Ryan, with "incoming fire on his own record and a not so warm welcome to the big leagues during his appearance today at the Iowa state fair."
In the report that followed, correspondent Peter Alexander seized on protestors showing up at a Ryan stump speech in the state: "Ryan campaigned on his first solo stop at the Iowa state fair, largely ignoring hecklers, several of whom rushed the stage."
In an interview with former House speaker Newt Gingrich on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer worried about vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's commitment to conservative principles: "I've heard Paul Ryan described as a true conservative....Do you honestly think he is someone who will work and reach across the aisle to Democrats or will he be an immovable object on key social issues and issues of ideology?"
On Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer actually used the President's own past statements about Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to grill deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter: "President Obama said this of Paul Ryan, that he was 'absolutely sincere about wanting to reduce the deficit'...gave him 'credit for at least being willing to put out there some very tough choices.' Does he still feel that way?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Cutter attempted to rely on the usual Democratic fearmongering, accusing Ryan of a plan "that balances the budget on the backs of the middle class." Lauer called her out for that tactic, again citing Obama's own words: "...he said this, quote, 'We're not going to be able to do anything about these entitlements if what we do characterize whatever proposal's are put out there as well, you know, that's the other party being irresponsible...the other party trying to hurt our senior citizens.' Which sounds exactly what – like what you just said."
Hoping to define vice presidential pick Paul Ryan early with liberal talking points, on Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Peter Alexander painted the Wisconsin congressman as "the architect of a politically polarizing budget plan to slash trillions in federal funding, including cuts to Medicare..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Alexander began his report by offering this description of Ryan: "To Republicans, Ryan is viewed as a conservative, a courageous and visionary conservative. To Democrats, his views are seen as extreme." At the top of the show, co-host Matt Lauer only saw problems for Republicans and advantages for Democrats with the Ryan pick: "Will Ryan's budget plan hurt the ticket? And how is President Obama using the choice to his own advantage?"
On Thursday, several media reports used Obama campaign talking points to downplay a new Romney campaign ad that accused the President of a "war on religion" following the ObamaCare contraception mandate that would force religious institutions to cover birth control in employee health insurance plans.
Articles for The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal all touted the Obama White House reaching a supposed "compromise" with religious groups on the issue. The Post's Rachel Weiner explained: "In a compromise designed to quell criticism, church-affiliated employers (such as universities) do not have to directly provide contraception coverage....But that compromise did not satisfy Catholic critics."
On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams eagerly touted ongoing trouble for the nation's largest breast cancer charity: "...the controversy involving the Susan G. Komen Foundation has soiled one of the great names and best-known brand names in all of charity....it was the symbol of the fight against breast cancer until controversy came along and Komen cut funds for Planned Parenthood, a decision it later reversed."
Williams noted how "senior leadership has given way" as "founder, Nancy Brinker, whose late sister was Susan G. Komen, is stepping down from her role as CEO." He wondered: "But will it be enough to restore faith and quiet the critics?" Correspondent Lisa Myers declared the move "was welcomed as much-needed change at Komen affiliates."
At no point in the segment was Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, described as controversial.
Still working hard to avoid mentioning an outrageous Obama super-PAC ad that basically accused Mitt Romney of being responsible for the cancer death of a woman, Thursday's NBC Nightly News had the gall to instead promote pro-Obama fluff, as anchor Brian Williams gushed: "Knowing a hot product when he sees one, the President today visited the U.S. Olympic training facility in Colorado."
Williams made sure to inform viewers that Obama "Promptly took his shoes off, got on the mat, and said his grandmother would be proud there were no holes in his socks."
At the top of Tuesday's O'Reilly Factor on Fox News, host Bill O'Reilly rightly observed "the American media overwhelmingly favoring Barack Obama over Mitt Romney" and predicted that the slanted news coverage "will give the President about 3% or 4% of the popular vote" in the general election.
O'Reilly cited numerous studies over several years that demonstrated the media predisposition that "clearly favors the more liberal candidate, and has for decades." In 2004, then-assistant managing editor of Newsweek magazine, Evan Thomas, made a prediction remarkably similar to O'Reilly's when he admitted that media bias in favor Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry was "going to be worth maybe 15 points," a number he revised down to five points months later.
On Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams gushed over a speech Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made on a trip to South Africa: "...she talked about the strength she received from Nelson Mandela back when she was first lady and the Clintons were under daily political attack."
Williams read a quote from Clinton: "I was beginning to get pretty hard inside. I was beginning to think, who do they think they are? What can I do to get even?" He then added: "She talked about Mandela's lesson of shedding bitterness and working toward reconciliation."
During a report about "why we love the British" on Thursday's NBC Today, special correspondent Tom Brokaw declared: "In one of our election years, the British watch America with a sense of bewilderment." Left-wing BBC anchor Katty Kay sniffed: "When we talk about God, guns, and government, those are the three big things we don't understand." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
She then lamented: "The role of government here [in the United States] is much more complicated, people don't want it in America. In Britain, we expect government to provide things for us."
Appearing on Wednesday's NBC Today, U.S. Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones responded to a New York Times story that trashed her as a "vixen, virgin, victim," telling co-host Savannah Guthrie: "...it was two days before I competed. And then the fact that it was from a U.S. media....they should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes, and instead they just ripped me to shreds....they just tore me apart, it was heartbreaking." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]