In an interview with Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer was puzzled by GOP opposition to the billionaire investor's call for higher taxes: "One of the ideas being pushed out there by the Right is that if you raise taxes on the wealthy it will have a chilling effect on hiring and investment in this country....Why do you think Republicans are clinging so tightly to that idea?" Buffett replied: "Well, I think they're worried about primaries next time, but I think you're seeing people peel away from that." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Earlier in the discussion, Lauer wondered: "...you favor a minimum tax rate for the wealthy....Do you see the political will in Washington right now to accomplish that and come up with a compromise?" Buffett replied: "I think there's a general feeling among the American public certainly, and even among many in Congress, that the rich like me have been getting away with low tax rates, and that it's time to make the tax rates more progressive."
At the end of an interview with Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer wondered: "I think it was 1999, you were named Time magazine's Person of the Year, alright? So I was just actually on a panel the other day where they're trying to figure out 2012's Person of the Year. Who should it be?... it could be Barack Obama, it can be – I mean, there are a lot of candidates. Who do you think it should be?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
At first, Bezos dodged the question: "You have put me on the spot. I don't know." But he then agreed with Lauer's suggestion: "In an election year, you know, Obama would be a pretty good choice."
After NBC News spent a week hyping President Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy as a major boon for his re-election campaign, on Thursday's Today, political director Chuck Todd completely dismissed Republicans citing the event as one reason for Mitt Romney's defeat: "Believe it or not, that Sandy finger-pointing is something that is being pushed around...when you look at the entire scope of this election and the demographics...it's a pretty absurd idea."
Moments later, co-host Matt Lauer grilled former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour on some in the GOP being critical of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie praising Obama's handling of the storm. Barbour explained: "Hurricane Sandy saved Barack Obama's presidency....But that's not Chris Christie's fault. Now, I do think the news media made a much bigger deal out of it, that made it sound like Christie was almost endorsing Obama. All Christie said was, is the President's trying to be a good partner."
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today, former McCain campaign advisor Steve Schmidt and PBS host Tavis Smiley began writing the Republican Party's obituary before any votes had been counted, after co-host Matt Lauer wondered: "Which party stands to suffer the most long-term damage if they lose today?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Schmidt proclaimed: "Well, if the Republicans lose, there's gonna be a civil war that breaks out in the Republican Party." Smiley followed by ranting that the GOP would be on the decline no matter what the outcome of the election: "I think we agree on this, though, Steve, the GOP is toast in the most multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic America ever if they can't expand their base. They may win tomorrow, but they're not going to win long term." Schmidt replied: "No doubt."
In an interview with senior Romney advisor Ed Gillespie on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer ripped into an ads run by the Governor's campaign in Ohio about the auto industry: "The reaction was swift and unanimous, Ed. They were painted as misleading by independent fact-checkers. Ohio newspapers said they were an exercise in deception, a masterpiece of misdirection, and Chrysler and GM called them inaccurate and campaign politics at its cynical worst." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer jabbed: "How could this happen to the guy who is the son of a car-maker and the guy who is supposed to have the business resume?" Gillespie defended the ad regarding Chrysler expanding Jeep production in China: "...the ad is accurate. The head of Fiat came out and said that they were going to open production in China for Jeep. That's what the ad says, and that's accurate."
Appearing on Friday's NBC Today, special correspondent Tom Brokaw strained to explain why New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg endorsing President Obama would be helpful: "[It] may not move the needle, for example, in Colorado, but in Ohio and in places where they're trying to get white men, they can say, 'Look, this guy has got the endorsement of the Mayor of New York.'" Why would someone in Ohio care?
Co-host Matt Lauer noted that the endorsement "wasn't a very warm hug," prompting Brokaw to argue: "It wasn't a warm hug, but it was tough on Romney about not being the guy that he was when he was Governor of Massachusetts."
At the end of an interview with vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie parroted Democratic attacks on Mitt Romney's foreign policy credentials: "John Kerry said, 'this is the most inexperienced foreign policy ticket to run in decades,' talking about you and Governor Romney. What specific national security experience qualifies Governor Romney to be commander in chief?"
At the top of an interview with Joe Biden only seconds later, fellow co-host Matt Lauer teed up the Vice President to slam Romney on the same issue: "[I] started by asking him if he thought Governor Romney is a qualified candidate when it comes to his vision and understanding of foreign policy." Not surprisingly, Biden declared: "No, he's not."
With Friday's Gallup tracking poll showing Mitt Romney with a 51-45 lead over Barack Obama, the crew at NBC's Today decided to focus on a much more reliable method of predicting the next President of the United States: Halloween mask sales. Co-host Matt Lauer announced: "...there's some science behind this when it comes to the election. For example, according to the Huffington Post, this year Obama masks are out-selling Romney masks by more than 30%." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer detailed how the candidate with stronger mask sales has won the past several presidential contests. Co-host Savannah Guthrie declared: "That's a perfect record....the polls are all over the place, so you know what? Maybe it's as good a predictor as any."
On Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer played the part of Obama campaign stooge when he promoted the President deflecting Libya criticism by slamming Mitt Romney: "...[He] firmly and pointedly chastised Governor Romney for politicizing a tragedy like this, a national tragedy. The father of Ambassador Stevens said, quote, 'It would be really abhorrent to make this into a campaign issue.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer then turned to Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and sanctimoniously demanded: "So I want your response, not to the President, but to the father of Ambassador Stevens." Ryan responded: "What we owe Chris Stevens, what we owe these Americans who gave their lives, are to make sure that we get to the bottom of this so we can prevent something like this from happening again."
Displaying a stunning double standard on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie gave Vice President Joe Biden plenty of room to applaud President Obama's debate performance, while fellow co-host Matt Lauer hammered Congressman Paul Ryan on issue after issue.
In her first question to Biden, Guthrie wondered if the President had "repaired the damage from his lackluster performance in the first debate," then followed up with: "Is the President's strategy here to beat Romney by disqualifying him in the minds of voters?" Meanwhile, Lauer began his interview with Ryan by asking essentially the same question: "A lot of the reporting this morning says that the President was the aggressor and may have won back some of the momentum lost after the first debate. Would you agree with that?"
On Tuesday's NBC Today, during a panel discussion previewing the second presidential debate, co-host Matt Lauer mandated that Mitt Romney answer charges that he's moderated his positions: "How does Mitt Romney answer that question tonight of, 'Why have you moved to the middle, have become more moderate in these closing weeks?'"
Former McCain campaign advisor Steve Schmidt rejected Lauer's assertion: "I don't think he has to answer that question." Lauer immediately interrupted: "What if he's asked that question?" Former Democratic governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm joined Lauer in ganging up on Schmidt: "Oh, I think he does. He absolutely does."
In a pathetic attempt to smear Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan ahead of Tuesday's second presidential debate, NBC's Today seized on a story in Monday's Washington Post accusing Ryan and his family of washing already clean pots and pans at a soup kitchen in Ohio for a photo-op. Co-host Matt Lauer wondered: "Would a campaign do that? We're gonna talk about it." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Following a report on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton taking responsibility for security failures in the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd actually treated the supposed dishwashing incident as if it were a scandal: "Paul Ryan is dealing with some fallout from that weekend photo-op....something that – that the campaign is a little nervous about because they're trying to get through this idea of whether they're in touch or out of touch."
Adopting Obama campaign talking points that Mitt Romney has dramatically shifted positions, on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer asked Donald Trump: "Are you happy with the Romney campaign right now? In the last couple of weeks he has clearly moved toward the center, way closer to the center than he was during the primaries and the early part of the campaign. His comments on abortion out in Ohio." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Trump dismissed any concerns: "I think he's doing amazingly. It started with the debate. We were all a little bit worried for a while. He just knocked it out of the park in the debate, and you look at the polls, he's generally winning." Lauer pressed: "But you think he's the same candidate that you signed on with several months ago?" Trump replied: "I think he's a great candidate and I think he's going to win." Lauer couldn't let it go: "Same candidate?" Trump reiterated: "Yes, I think he's a great candidate."
On Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer cited left-wing Daily Beast columnist Andrew Sullivan ripping apart President Obama's bad debate performance: "I've never seen a candidate this late in the game so far ahead just throw in the towel in the way Obama did last week. How do you erase that imprinted first image from public consciousness, a president incapable of making a single argument or even a halfway decent closing argument?"
Lauer employed the quote in an interview with Obama campaign advisor Robert Gibbs and worried: "So with the second debate just a week away, Robert, does President Obama understand what he did wrong? Does he agree that he took the wrong approach?" Gibbs acknowledged: "...the President understands that he didn't even live up to his own high expectations for that debate."
After promoting the Obama campaign's Bird Bird ad on Tuesday's NBC Today, not to mention it being played repeatedly on MSNBC, in an interview with campaign advisor Robert Gibbs on Wednesday's Today, co-host Matt Lauer wondered: "...is that the kind of political ad that a campaign releases when it feels that it has ideas and solutions on its side, or is that the kind of political ad a campaign releases when it simply wants to get attention?"
Gibbs defended the juvenile ad: "I think the ad and the President have an important point on this. You know, Mitt Romney took to the debate and said, 'I'm going to get tough by ending Downton Abbey and going to war with Sesame Street.'"
At the end of an interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer turned to the subject of climate change and fretted: "We've had a crazy week in this – year in this country of extreme weather. Are you seeing around the world the kind of motivation and will that's necessary to, A, admit there's a problem, and then address the problem?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Blair replied in part: "This climate issue is real, and we are very irresponsible for future generations if we don't deal with it and we should recover, I think, a sense of urgency about it." Tossing all objectivity aside, Lauer joined in the advocacy: "I hope we will."
During the Today's Professionals segment on Tuesday's NBC Today, chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman applauded New York City schools handing out morning-after contraception pills to teenage girls without parental consent: "Parents aren't going to like to hear this, but teenagers are having sex....People want to be anti-abortion. If you're anti-abortion you should be anti-pregnancy....the reality is it's smart public health." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Matt Lauer teed up Snyderman: "Let's remember that schools have been offering condoms for years now. Is this the next logical step, Nancy?" Moments after Snyderman praised the "smart" policy, advertising executive Donny Deutsch chimed in: "To me, if this stops unwanted pregnancies, this is a no-brainer, it's a fantastic idea."
On Monday, ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today failed to air any full reports on the continuing inquiry into the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and mentioned the issue only in passing. CBS This Morning did devote a full segment to the dispute between the State Department and CNN over their use of a Ambassador Chris Stevens' personal journal, but didn't mention President Obama or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by name.
Matt Lauer vaguely referenced the "new wave of anti-Americanism" in the Islamic world during an interview of Tony Blair, but it took the former British prime minister to specifically point out the "tragic death of your ambassador" in Libya. During a report on the presidential race, ABC's Jake Tapper did briefly note how the President "described some of the events as bumps in the road. The Romney campaign saying that the death of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador in Libya, is far worse than a bump in the road."
NBC's Matt Lauer pronounced the previous week a "bad week" for the Romney campaign and cited squishy Republicans to help make his point on Thursday's Today show. Lauer wouldn't even let Romney adviser Ed Gillespie say President Obama had a bad week.
Lauer posed to Gillespie, "by just about every estimate this was a bad week for his [Romney's] campaign. Would you agree?" When Gillespie cited polls showing President Obama's numbers slipping, Lauer tried to flip the negative spotlight back on Romney. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Early in the 8 a.m. et hour on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer led a panel discussion on whether the September 11th attacks were staring to be forgotten: "...some people are saying that the attention for this event, these anniversaries, is waning, and that people have moved on. 20 years from now, are our children going to grow up – be in a world where the significance of this event, those attacks, is lost?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
A little over thirty minutes later, NBC fulfilled that fear by skipping the moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. et commemorating the first plane hitting the first tower of the World Trade Center, instead airing an interview with Keeping Up With the Kardashians star Kris Jenner. ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning both observed the moment of silence.
If journalists were interested in fairness, there's nothing more basic than giving a similar amount of airtime to each major party convention. An MRC analysis finds that's exactly what CBS and ABC did, giving virtually identical airtime to the Republican and Democratic conventions on their morning and evening news shows.
But NBC skewed in favor of the Democrats, donating 25 percent more coverage to the Democratic National Convention (121 minutes) than they did the previous week's Republican convention (97 minutes). Most of the disparity is accounted for by the Today show, which gave 30 percent more coverage to the Democrats (87 minutes vs. 67 minutes), although the NBC Nightly News also favored the Democrats, albeit by a slighter margin (34 to 30 minutes).
Promoting his fawning profile of President Obama for the October issue of Vanity Fair on Tuesday's NBC Today, contributing editor Michael Lewis described a game of basketball he played with the commander in chief: "...it was actually very revealing...he doesn't let anybody treat him like the president. If you're watching the game, you'd have no idea who – which one is the president...he likes a really challenging environment...it's a relationship among equals." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The gushing from Lewis was prompted by co-host Matt Lauer wondering: "What did you see about the way he [Obama] handles himself on the court that sheds some light on his personality and how he might handle himself in the job?" Lewis observed: "...he's effective on the court, he's a good basketball player – but he plays a game that seems very risk averse....But then all of a sudden, when there's a risk to take, it's boom. He's got the personality of a sniper."
On Friday's NBC Today, less than two hours before another poor jobs report, co-host Matt Lauer touted a bold economic prediction: "Some of the analysts I've been reading have said that no matter who is president over the next four years, the economy will add about 12 million jobs just because of the cycle it's in." CNBC Mad Money host Jim Cramer agreed with the rosy scenario: "...a lot of pent-up demand in autos and pent-up demand in exports. It's not such a bad moment."
Earlier in the discussion, Cramer predicted that the upcoming jobs numbers would be "a little better than expected" from the projection of 135,000 jobs created in August, with "Maybe 10,000 jobs more than that." At the top of the 9 a.m. hour, fill-in news anchor Tamron Hall delivered the much more disappointing reality: "[The unemployment rate] now stands at 8.1% for the month of August, down .2% from July, but only because more people gave up looking for work. The economy added 96,000 jobs last month."
At the top of Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie teased an upcoming interview with Paul Ryan by slamming the Republican vice presidential candidate: "Paul Ryan joins us to talk about where he thinks the presidential race is headed and criticism that he's played fast and loose with the truth." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Beginning the interview with Ryan minutes later, fellow co-host Matt Lauer parroted Guthrie's attack: "There are some people who are claiming that you played a little fast and loose with the truth on certain key elements. And I'm not just talking about Democratic analysts, I'm talking about some independent fact checkers. Would you concede that while many of the things you said were effective, some were not completely accurate?"
In an interview with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer worried that the Republican National Convention was not appealing to a broad audience: "When you talk about the conservatives and we talk about the gender gap and how important women are...do you think this convention is reaching out to the people who are going to decide this election, independents, moderates and women?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Earlier in the show, Lauer hyped the same concern while talking to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, wondering if Paul Ryan's "staunchly conservative views on topics like abortion" created a "fear" among Republicans that female voters would be turned off.
In an interview with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer used attack lines from deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter to question the honesty of Paul Ryan's vice presidential nomination acceptance speech: "[She] said, 'Forty minutes of vitriol and half a dozen previously debunked attacks.' Was it an honest speech or was it just a campaign convention speech?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
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 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: