VH1 comedian Chuck Nice appeared on Tuesday's "Today" show and compared Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to the sexually transmitted disease herpes. He mocked, "But, Sarah Palin to the GOP, this is what I've got to say, she is very much like herpes, she's not going away." [Audio available here]
The "Best Week Ever" contributor amazingly preceded his comments by instructing the show's hosts and his fellow guests, who were there to discuss news events in the 10am hour of the show, "...Please don't take it the way it sounds." Amazingly, no one on the program really challenged Nice on his ugly remark. NBC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams mildly observed, "That's the advantage of being Chuck Nice. You can say that and there's no repercussions." Nia-Malika Henderson, the White House reporter for Politico, said nothing.
Defiant, Nice continued, "Everybody's laughing. I don't care. The band is cracking up." Anchors Hoda Kotb and Kathy Lee Gifford quickly moved onto other topics. Would such a comment about Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton have gone unquestioned on "Today?"
"Good Morning America" on Tuesday also covered Palin and her treatment within the Republican Party. Highlighting a supposed controversy between the former vice presidential candidate and Newt Gingrich, reporter Dan Harris noted allegations "that in a recent speech she borrowed heavily from an article by Newt Gingrich, without giving him proper credit." Speaking of a Republican fund-raiser where the two appeared, he then added, "Gingrich's remarks last night were gracious" and featured a clip of the former House Speaker complimenting Palin.
The ABC journalist, however, left out key information, as reported by CBSNews.com:
"It is abundantly clear in context, and even in subcontext, that the overview of President Reagan's legacy was attributed to Newt Gingrich," Palin's lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, said.
"Far from 'lifting' or plagiary, this is proper attribution in a political speech," Van Flein said. "The audience was made aware that Mr. Gingrich wrote about President Reagan's legacy, and Gov. Palin attributed her paraphrasing to Mr. Gingrich expressly and did so at the beginning and at the end of the paraphrasing."
Harris closed by deriding, "It's unknown how long this Palin kerfuffle will play out. But there's one thing that's unquestionably true, the Democrats are enjoying every minute of it." News anchor Chris Cuomo agreed, "I bet they are." In fairness, Harris did describe Palin as one of the party's "leading lights." Certainly, however, it seems as though members of the media are taking some pleasure from playing up division between Republicans.
(Special thanks to MRC intern Sam Theodosopoulos for transcribing the "Today" segment and for catching the exchange.)
A partial transcript of the June 9 "Today" segment, which aired at 10:32am on June 9, follows:
HODA KOTB: Are they trying to keep her in a box? They don't want her out there talking?
DAN ABRAMS: Well you would think so. They don't seem to be. You don't seem to think that's the case. There's this battle going on that suggests that she might have been the first choice to speak at this event. I get Gingrich, he's the old school. He's the guy who brought them back to power, etc.
HODA KOTB: He was the speaker of the house.
DAN ABRAMS: And represents a time sort of when the Republicans were high and mighty. But Sarah Palin to me is like the representative of everything that's gone wrong lately.
CHUCK NICE: Yeah, she's a maverick!
DAN ABRAMS: She is a maverick.
CHUCK NICE: That's what you guys forget. She is a maverick! You can’t hold her down.
KATHY LEE GIFFORD: But she does have a following.
HODA KOTB: She does. A big following.
DAN ABRAMS: Yes, no, Alaska, there's an enormous following.
HODA KOTB: She does!
KATHY LEE GIFFORD: You've got to be fair about that. She does. But she is as polarizing within the GOP as she is with the nation in general.
CHUCK NICE: She is beloved by a lot of people because she represents so many things. And I'm going to say this, and please don't take it the way it sounds. But, Sarah Palin to the GOP, this is what I've got to say, she is very much like herpes, she's not going away. Okay? That's it. I'm not equating her with that. Everybody's laughing. I don't care. The band is cracking up.
DAN ABRAMS: That's the advantage of being Chuck Nice. You can say that and there's no repercussions.
CHUCK NICE: I didn’t call her that, I'm just making an analogy.
HODA KOTB: Barack Obama made a big speech in Cairo, and the thing to me, I was watching it, and everyone kept saying other Presidents have said similar things. But the thing that struck me about his speech was there seemed to be a respect for the audience, and a respect for that part of the world, as opposed to sort of a wagging the finger at that part of the world. What sense did you guys get?
NIA MALIKA HENDERSON: Yeah, I mean, I think that's very much, you're right. On the one hand he was kind of, I mean not necessarily apologizing for American Policy, but certainly explaining American Policy. Also pointing fingers at Israel and Palestine. So it was very much, you know, in keeping with this whole idea of resetting America's image abroad, so you saw him in that speech quote from the Bible. He quoted from the Talmud, he quoted from the Koran. So it was a very different tone.