NBC Reporter Accuses Scott Brown of Ducking GOP Label

On Tuesday's Today show NBC's Kelly O'Donnell -- apparently reaching to find something negative to say about the surging Scott Brown --  accused the Republican Massachusetts Senate candidate of running away from his own party as she questioned: "You don't mention the Republican Party much in your campaign. Why is that?" To which Brown quickly asserted: "I think people know I'm a Republican. That's never been a secret."

However O'Donnell didn't let Brown have the last word on the topic, as she elaborated: "Not a secret, but clearly not on display. No mention of being a Republican on Brown's bus, signs or campaign ads. So Coakley made it a point in hers." O'Donnell went on to run a clip from a Martha Coakley ad, the first of two clips from ads produced by the Democratic candidate.

Incidentally O'Donnell never aired a clip from a Brown ad. She did, however, air a radio show clip of Coakley embarrassing herself by identifying Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling as a "Yankee fan," but she then quickly introduced a clip of Vicki Kennedy defending the gaffe: "To Coakley's defense came Ted Kennedy's widow Vicki, who told NBC News there are bigger issues at stake."

The following is the full O'Donnell segment as it was aired on the January 19 Today show:

MATT LAUER: And we now turn to politics, where a lot is riding on the special election being held today in Massachusetts to fill the late Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. A Republican win would end the Democrats' supermajority in the Senate and seriously threaten the passage of health care reform. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell is in Boston with more on this story. Kelly, good morning to you.

[On screen headline: "Decision Day, Dems Scramble To Save Ted Kennedy's Senate Seat"]

KELLY O'DONNELL: Good morning, Matt. I bet you can recognize we're coming to you from Boston's famed Cheers bar, the kind of place where people have been fascinated by this little election with big implications. Small because it is a one-race special election, so experts don't really know who will turn out, but the implications are huge for Democrats' power if the Republican candidate wins. On just about any other election day, Republican Scott Brown might have been a little-noticed underdog. In a race where Democrats, like Martha Coakley, pulled every advantage.

MARTHA COAKLEY: We're gonna be successful and I'm gonna look forward to working with you!

O'DONNELL: But this time, things are different in Massachusetts.

SCOTT BROWN: I'm excited. I'm energized, yet I'm not taking anything for granted.

O'DONNELL: Brown is a state senator with almost 30 years in the Army National Guard.

O'DONNELL TO BROWN: You don't mention the Republican Party much in your campaign. Why is that?

BROWN: I think people know I'm a Republican. That's never been a secret.

O'DONNELL: Not a secret, but clearly not on display. No mention of being a Republican on Brown's bus, signs or campaign ads. So Coakley made it a point in hers.

(Begin Coakley ad clip)

ANNOUNCER: In lockstep with Washington Republicans.

(End clip)

O'DONNELL: Coakley looked like a sure thing to succeed Ted Kennedy back on primary night, easily beating other Democrats. Well thought of as the state's attorney general, President Obama made that case Sunday, and that quickly turned into a Coakley ad.

(Begin Coakley ad clip)

BARACK OBAMA: As attorney general, she took on Wall Street and recovered millions for Massachusetts taxpayers.

(End ad clip)

O'DONNELL: But Coakley appeared less at ease with some of the Politics 101 in Boston, like when she confused a Red Sox legend with a Yankees fan.

(Begin radio show clip)

RADIO HOST: Scott Brown has Curt Schilling, okay-

COAKLEY: And another Yankee fan.

(End clip)

O'DONNELL: Schilling campaigned for her opponent.

CURT SCHILLING: I am not a Yankee fan.

O'DONNELL: To Coakley's defense came Ted Kennedy's widow Vicki, who told NBC News there are bigger issues at stake.

VICKI KENNEDY: I think when people take the time to reflect on the issues and know what's in their family's best interests, they'll vote for Martha Coakley.

O'DONNELL: With all the buzz and attention, there has been a lot of outside help coming in. The Republican candidate has had some fundraising assistance from big-name Republicans, and Democrats say they've seen a surge in the number of volunteers, doubling since last Thursday to try to get out the vote for their candidate today, Martha Coakley. Matt?

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.