NBC Today show host Matt Lauer isn't pleased with the press he got after the network's catastrophic removal of co-host Ann Curry last year.
In an interview with New York magazine published online Sunday evening, Lauer laughably whined, "When the media covers something, it’s important to do basic homework. You can’t just repeat something over and over again until it sounds true. It’s not fair."
Wrapping up a panel discussion on Monday's NBC Today about Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman coming out in support of gay marriage, co-host Matt Lauer voiced suspicion about the timing of the announcement: "He has known his son is gay for the last two years, and yet, when he was there on the campaign trail supporting the Republican nominee, he never mentioned anything about this evolving stance on same-sex marriage." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Advertising executive Donny Deutsch replied: "The irony of that is, if the Republicans were smart, they would understand if they move on some of these social issues, it would actually help the party."
On Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer touted "breaking news" that Ohio Senator Rob Portman, "a leading figure in the Republican Party," was now in favor of gay marriage after learning that his son was gay. Leading off the report that followed, White House correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed that Portman "...is now joining a growing list of Republicans to come out in support of gay marriage..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Turning to coverage of the Conservative Political Action Conference, Alexander asserted: "The Republican Party now faces an identity crisis, with no clear leader and no clear path to widening its appeal." Wrapping up the report, Alexander continued to push the meme of a GOP in disarray: "But if you need any more evidence of the divide that now exists in the Republican Party, consider this. One of the most popular figures in the party, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the guy who praised President Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy last fall, was not invited."
In an interview with New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer worried about the age of the newly elected Pope Francis: "...there was some stunned silence for a second. I think some had expected a younger man, he's 76....When you looked at that image of the new pope standing with some members of the Church hierarchy, visually, Cardinal Dolan, it didn't exactly scream a modern Church." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
At the same time Lauer was worried about the Church not projecting a more "modern" image, NBCNews.com offered a "to-do list" for the new Pontiff that included typical liberal demands:
In the fortnight leading up to the sequester, the broadcast networks ABC, CBS, and NBC wrung their hands about "all the catastrophes that would happen if these cuts went through," NewsBusters senior editor Rich Noyes noted on the March 7 edition of Fox Business Network's Varney & Co. Since, then, however, "they've spent no time asking how is the White House going to decide where these cuts are, how is the administration going to parcel out these cuts?"
In short, "[t]hey're not doing their watchdog function at all," the Media Research Center's research director told FBN's Stuart Varney. What's more, for the most part, the same networks lack any skepticism about how the administration might be targeting their cuts in such as way as to deliberately inflict pain, when it's completely in the power of the Obama White House to structure cutbacks in a way that minimizes its impact on the taxpaying American (watch the full segment below the page break):
In an interview on Monday's Today with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his co-author Clint Bolick about their new book, Immigration Wars, co-host Matt Lauer seized Bush's critical words for fellow Republicans: "...this is an alarm to your party. You called Republicans 'tone deaf and hostile to immigrants and Hispanics,' you fault the party for being unwilling to expand the base, and you warn that Republicans face, your word, 'extinction' if they continue to alienate Hispanics. Is this damage that was caused and has been inflicted, whether self or not, something that can be repaired in time for 2016?"
Lauer began the segment by wondering: "Your brother [George W. Bush] won 44% of the Hispanic vote. By contrast, Governor Romney won 27%. 71% went to President Obama. Was it Governor Romney's fault or the party's fault?" Bush replied: "I think both. Governor Romney put himself in a box, I think, in the primary, by trying to out-conservative some very good conservative candidates, and never really recovered from it."
In an interview with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer couldn't understand why the American people didn't buy into the White House and media hype about how devastating the budget sequester would be: "The cuts went into effect Friday night, although they roll out over a long period of time. And yet, I'm surprised there hasn't been more outrage on the part of the general public." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer offered possible explanations: "Do you think that's because people are simply numb to this by now, the dysfunction of Washington, or do you think there's a little case of crying wolf here and they don't believe how severe the impact's going to be?" Bush replied: "Well, there was a lot of crying wolf." Lauer quickly tried to spread the blame to Republicans: "On both sides?" Bush promptly dismissed that notion: "No. I think the President kind of led the charge to say that widows and orphans were going to be out on the street."
In an exclusive interview with The Washington Post's Bob Woodward on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer belittled the veteran journalist for daring to reveal a contentious exchange with White House adviser Gene Sperling: "I'm a little surprised you've gone public with this. I mean, these kinds of high-energy, high-octane, high-emotion conversations and debates happen all the time between government officials and the people who cover them. You've felt the heat before. Why did you go public with this one?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Reacting to Chris Christie not being invited to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer melodramatically announced: "...another battle for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today. But this time, he's at odds with the right wing of his own party." The headline on screen throughout the segment read: "Cold Shoulder for Christie; NJ Governor Snubbed By Conservative Conference." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that follow, correspondent Andrea Mitchell eagerly touted Christie's willingness to buck the GOP: "The latest sign that Chris Christie won't kowtow to Republican hardliners, his annual budget speech Tuesday, signing on to ObamaCare..." After describing the "very public snub" from CPAC, Mitchell declared: "...some Republicans see a bigger problem, the party's refusal to broaden its base." A sound bite followed of former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson hyperventilating: "If the Republican future does not include a place for people like Chris Christie, the Republican Party doesn't have a future."
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer urged the liberal Today's Professionals pundits to assign blame for the upcoming budget sequester: "I want you to complete the following sentence, 'And the blame goes to...' Almost by every analysis people agree this will hurt the economy, hurt the recovery, might even damage national security. And the blame goes to?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman ranted: "The American public for not being invested enough in the terms of what it means and firing every one of these SOBs the next time it comes around." Advertising executive Donny Deutsch agreed, arguing: "We are a country now of complete non-self sacrifice. You can't blame the politicians. Blame us, because nobody wants to give on anything."
In the first part of an interview aired on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer interrogated House Speaker John Boehner over saying President Obama lacked the courage to stand up to his Democratic base: "And by calling the President of the United States out in such harsh terms today, on the day of the State of the Union address....I think a lot of people are going to say, 'Here we go. Same old division. Same old animosity.' Don't they have a right to say that?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Boehner began to reply: "No. Listen, the President and I get along fine...We have a very good relationship." Lauer interrupted: "So this all politics, these questions you raise today?" Boehner continued: "...the American people on election day gave us a mandate, a Republican congress and a Democratic president, and the mandate was to find a way to work together, find common ground."
In an interview with House Speaker John Boehner aired on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer highlighted the Speaker inviting two girls from a Washington D.C. inner city school to the State of the Union address, but rather than focus on the scholarship program Boehner supports, Lauer wondered: "They're your guests. Could you blame them, though, if they're not a little mesmerized by Barack Obama tonight? The nation's first African American president?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Continuing to aggrandize Obama, Lauer went further: "Is he, in your opinion, the most inspirational African American living right now?...You think that's the way these kids will feel when they watch?"
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today about the White House releasing a photo of President Obama skeet shooting to dispel doubt about his claim of doing it "all the time," co-host Matt Lauer worried about the precedent that had been set: "So like releasing the birth certificate a year or so ago, this is the next step, that now the President always has to back up his words with proof?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer's concern seemed to follow administration talking points perfectly. On Sunday's Today, correspondent Peter Alexander reported: "This weekend, the White House tried to shut down the doubters. The President's former senior advisor [David Plouffe] even referred to those who still question where Mr. Obama was born. [Image of Plouffe Tweet] 'Attention, skeet birthers. Make our day – let the photoshop conspiracies begin!'"
On February 1, 2003, seven astronauts on board Space Shuttle Columbia died during re-entry as they returned to Earth from the STS-107 mission. Friday was the 10th anniversary of the disaster, but none of the Big Three networks morning newscasts marked this somber occasion.
ABC's Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, and NBC's Today understandably devoted considerable broadcast time to the upcoming Super Bowl on Sunday. However, this coverage contained segments to frivolous, celebrity-driven stories that could have been whittled down to air even a mere brief on the anniversary of the tragedy. Here are examples from each morning show:
After initially hitting Al Gore from the left for global warming "hypocrisy" during an interview on Tuesday's NBC Today, in the second part of that interview later on the broadcast, co-host Matt Lauer praised the former Vice President for having "never shied away from the very tough issues" and wondered: "After years of calling people's attention to this issue, and now we've seen Superstorm Sandy and tornadoes and drought and extreme temperatures, do you feel vindicated?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gore somberly replied: "Well, I wish that I had been wrong. And I wish that the scientists whose message I was carrying had been wrong. It's not about me. It's about us and what we do to safeguard our future." In the first part of the interview, Gore eagerly used such disasters to promote the cause: "Today is the three-month anniversary of Superstorm Sandy....These storms, it's like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation on the news every day now."
In an interview with former Vice President Al Gore on Tuesday's Today, co-host Matt Lauer fretted over the "hypocrisy" of the global warming crusader selling his news channel Current TV to the oil-funded Al Jazeera network. However, Lauer completely ignored the Arab news organization's history of anti-Americanism and promotion of Islamic fundamentalism. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
When Lauer questioned Gore about selling Current to Al Jazeera for $500 million, Gore declared: "I'm very pleased that Al Jazeera has established itself as a really respected news-gathering network." Rather than challenge that assertion, the only criticism of the network Lauer could think of was this: "But if they get funding from a country that has – that bases its wealth on fossil fuels, and fossil fuels are the enemy you target in climate change, isn't there a bit of hypocrisy in that?"
At the top of Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer hyperventilated over a newly released ad from the National Rifle Association pointing out the hypocrisy of President Obama on gun control: "Getting personal. The National Rifle Association out with a powerful new ad this morning, bringing the President's family into the gun debate." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The ad in question simply noted that Obama's daughters were protected in school by armed guards while the President was pushing for gun restrictions. Introducing a report on the ad, co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed that it "gets very personal." Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd followed: "...the NRA is signaling it intends to fight the President, and it's using this new web video that hits close to home, targeting his daughters."
On Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer eagerly touted special correspondent Chelsea Clinton being a part of the festivities leading up to President Obama's inauguration: "She's going to talk about an important role that she is playing in President Obama's second inaugural, something I know she would like you to get involved in." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Before talking to Clinton about the upcoming event, Lauer explained: "President Obama will kick off his inauguration weekend on Saturday with a National Day of Service....the Obamas and Bidens will attend a service fair on the National Mall....NBC's special correspondent Chelsea Clinton is the honorary chair of that event."
On Friday's CBS This Morning, Bill Plante refreshingly spotlighted how firearms are used to protect the lives of ordinary Americans. Plante noted how the National Rifle Association "Tweeted a story...about Melinda Herman, a Georgia woman who shot an intruder in self-defense as she waited with her two children in a closet....She fired at the man multiple times with a .38 caliber handgun."
The two other Big Three morning shows failed to mention this story during their coverage of the current gun control debate. ABC's GMA actually minimized the air time they devoted to the issue. News anchor Dan Harris gave just one news brief to the next meeting of Vice President Joe Biden's gun violence task force:
In an interview with National Rifle Association president David Keene on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer wondered: "Do you have the support in Congress to block any federal ban on assault weapons in the coming year?...How close do you think Congress can get on that?" He then speculated: "People talk about the power of the NRA. They look at it almost, you know, in monumental terms. Do you think in the wake of these shootings that power has been eroded at all, Mr. Keene?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Keene rejected the framing of Lauer's question and explained: "Americans who believe strongly in the Second Amendment, and their right to own privately and use firearms for legitimate purposes, is a huge number of people who really care about these issues....it's not the power of the NRA, Matt. What it is, is the strength of belief among millions of Americans in their right under the Constitution to privately own firearms."
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appeared on all three network morning shows on Wednesday and was greeted in each interview by the host seizing on his harsh words for congressional Republicans over a delayed vote on Hurricane Sandy relief. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: "You're not happy, it seems, with the course of the Republican Party right now. You blasted some Republicans in Congress last week after their inaction over Hurricane Sandy. You said they showed 'callous indifference, selfishness, duplicity,' they were, 'practicing toxic politics.' Strong letter to follow. Those aren't the words of a guy who's happy with his party."
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today, chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman voiced her support for a New York newspaper, The Journal News, publishing a list of addresses of local gun owners: "You have these sort of blind assumptions that when your child goes over to play with another kid, he or she is going to be safe. And I think that has been now negated. So I have no problem....we're not outing child molesters, this is a legal transaction, it's a public transaction." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Snyderman's declaration was prompted by fellow panelist, advertising executive Donny Deutsch, also standing by the paper's controversial action: "I think it's a great idea, I'll tell you why. I've got two little girls at home and I would like to know if they're going on a play date in a house where there's a gun....when you have a gun, you are setting yourself up as somebody different. It's your choice..."
In an interview with retired General Stanley McChrystal on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer grilled the former Afghanistan commander on his resignation following criticism of President Obama in a 2010 Rolling Stone article: "There were several demeaning quotes attributed to your staff members, even to you, about the President and about key members of his staff....Was he [Obama] furious about what had come out in that Rolling Stone magazine? Did he express displeasure with you?"
While McChrystal was supposedly on to promote his memoir, My Share of the Task, Lauer spent nearly the entire exchange harping on the two-year-old personal drama between the General and Obama: "Did you distrust the people at the White House? Did you distrust key members of the Obama administration when it came to their policy in dealing with Afghanistan?...Did you distrust the President and key members of the administration in terms of their handling of the war in Afghanistan?"
At the top of Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer teased an upcoming interview with New York Congressman Peter King by seizing on House GOP disagreement over when to schedule a vote on a Hurricane Sandy relief bill: "...fresh off the fiscal cliff fight, the Republican Party appears in the throes of a civil war. This morning, we'll talk to an outspoken GOP congressman who urged voters in his district not contribute to Republican campaigns." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the exchange that followed, Lauer eagerly quoted King: "You said that Speaker Boehner had a, quote, 'Dismissive and cavalier attitude toward New York and New Jersey.' And you went further, you said, 'Republicans have no trouble finding New York when it comes to raising money. And I would just say to anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to Congressional Republicans after this should have their head examined.'"
After worrying on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News about possible House GOP "shenanigans" preventing a fiscal cliff deal, on Monday's Today, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd breathed a sign of relief: "...this 112th Congress does leave us today, and some people say finally leaves us today....it began with a threat of a government shutdown just two months into this congress. And then, of course, we had the debt ceiling showdown. Then it culminated with this fiscal cliff..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Picking up on Todd's rant against Congress, co-host Matt Lauer eagerly quoted New York Times columnist David Brooks: "If Congress couldn't make a single tough decision under these circumstances, why should we think it'll make any further down the road? More likely, there will just be more squabbling and brinkmanship, more posturing and punting, which could not only poison future budget talks, but also prospects for immigration reform, tax reform, gun control and many other projects."
Neither Todd nor Lauer laid any blame on President Obama for the contentious atmosphere in Washington.
If today's gun control debate seems a bit stale to you, you're not wrong. Twelve years ago, MRC's Geoffrey Dickens wrote a Special Report on network coverage of gun controversies over a two-year period from July 1997 to June 1999.
ABC, CBS, and NBC harped on several major themes in their coverage of gun policy stories. The arguments most commonly advanced by the network stars had one thought in common: guns are the problem. Check out just how similar yesterday's complaints were to today's:
Following a report on Thursday's NBC Today in which political director Chuck Todd touted a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, co-host Matt Lauer tried to spin one finding: "...only 53% say they're optimistic about a second term for Obama and 47% say they are pessimistic. Is this really more pessimism about Washington in general?"
Todd accepted the characterization: "It is. You know, you see it in the poll....this is a much less naive public, maybe let's put it that way, after they've watched all of this in Washington. And a full 70% now think that the next year is going to be acrimonious." Todd then portrayed Republicans as embracing such acrimony: "...this is really dangerous in the talks, actually...I talked to one Republican who said, 'How low can we go? We don't have a lot to lose.' And I pointed out, 'But you would have a lot to gain, because the par's pretty low from the public's point of view.'"
During a segment on Thursday's NBC Today on the upcoming film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty, co-host Matt Lauer wondered if scenes depicting "brutal interrogations" of terror suspects would make movie-goers feel guilty: "It's inevitable people are going to sit in the movie theater...and when they see the scenes of torture, they're going to ask themselves if they think it was justified, if the ends justified the means." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Turning to director Kathryn Bigelow, Lauer pressed: "Do you want to make a political statement with this movie?" Bigelow replied: "Well, I think the film doesn't have an agenda. I think it just shows the story as – you know, the story of the greatest man hunt in history. And that's part of that history." Lauer urged: "But do you want people to discuss that topic more? Whether these kind of enhanced interrogation techniques are justified?"
Actor Matt Damon made a crude sexual joke about "tossing salad" on NBC's Today show Tuesday.
Although the topic was food, co-hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie both clearly understood the reference and laughed along with Damon and others on the set (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):