NBC's Mitchell Upset at Palin's Millions Now, Celebrated Bill Clinton's Millions Then

NBC's Andrea Mitchell, on Thursday's Today show, delivered a snarky piece about Sarah Palin "making millions on books" and "highly paid speeches"going as far to portray the former Republican Alaskan governor as a diva who demands a Lear jet and "bendable straws" for her water bottles at appearances.

However Mitchell was singing a different tune back in 2001 when a former Democratic officeholder, in this case Bill Clinton, cashed in, as she hailed on the August 7, 2001 NBC Nightly News: "The self-declared 'Comeback Kid,' a hero to his new office neighbors in Harlem, now breaking a world record, signing the biggest non-fiction book deal in history, bigger than the Pope's. Bigger than Hillary Clinton's. Sources say as much as $12 million."

Fast forward to Thursday's Today show, and Mitchell painted Palin as a hypocrite for getting rid of her state-funded luxury jet back in Alaska, since she is now requesting a Lear jet for an appearance at the cash-strapped Cal State-Stanislaus University. However, as Mitchell herself pointed out, albeit at the end of the piece, Palin's speech at the campus is being paid by private funds and will, according to the university's president, raise money for the school.

ANDREA MITCHELL: And since the campaign, she has made some changes herself. Remember this?

SARAH PALIN: We got rid of a few things in the governor's office that I just didn't think our citizens should be paying for. Like that luxury jet. It was a little bit over the top.

MITCHELL: A year-and-a-half later, the hockey mom from Wasilla is Palin Inc. making millions on books, a new TV series for Discovery - "Sarah Palin's Alaska." A lucrative contract with Fox News and highly paid speeches. But a speech she's been hired to give at Cal State - Stanislaus, one of 23 California campuses drowning in red ink, is causing a furor. That's because students found a copy of Palin's contract for the black tie event in a trash bin.

The following teaser and full Mitchell segment were aired on the April 15 Today show:

MATT LAUER: Also ahead we're gonna talk about some anger over a cash strapped California college's decision to hire Sarah Palin to give a private speech after a student found a copy of the contract, for that appearance, in a trash bin. We're gonna tell you what's in the cash, or the contract that has some people more than a little bit upset.

...

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is drawing some heat herself these days over a scheduled speech, not over what she'll say, but what she's asking for to give it. NBC's Andrea Mitchell has the details. Andrea, good morning.

[On screen headline: "The Price of Palin, Speaking Contract Sparks Controversy"]

ANDREA MITCHELL: Well good morning, Meredith. Sarah Palin is the big draw at Tea Party rallies all over the country, but it is the private speech that she's been hired to give at a financially-stressed California state school that has got people talking today.

SARAH PALIN: Do you love your freedom?

MITCHELL: Palin appears to be loving her freedom. She's a star at conservative rallies attacking the Obama administration.

PALIN: Is this what their change is all about? I want to tell 'em, nah, you know we, we'll keep clinging to our Constitution and our guns and religion and you can keep the change.

MITCHELL: And since the campaign, she has made some changes herself. Remember this?

PALIN: We got rid of a few things in the governor's office that I just didn't think our citizens should be paying for. Like that luxury jet. It was a little bit over the top.

MITCHELL: A year-and-a-half later, the hockey mom from Wasilla is Palin Inc. making millions on books, a new TV series for Discovery - "Sarah Palin's Alaska." A lucrative contract with Fox News and highly paid speeches. But a speech she's been hired to give at Cal State - Stanislaus, one of 23 California campuses drowning in red ink, is causing a furor. That's because students found a copy of Palin's contract for the black tie event in a trash bin.

ASHLEY BRIGGS, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY JUNIOR: At this time, it's, it's important to know where money is going.

MITCHELL: Palin's lecture requirements are typical for top-level celebrity speakers, but not for the political circuit. She commands a private jet and the contract specifies the private aircraft must be a Lear 60 or larger, or first class commercial travel. Her lectern must have two bottles of water and bendable straws, and she only takes questions from a pre-approved moderator. This on a campus hit with furlough Fridays and a state system rocked by protests over budget cuts. California attorney general and Democratic candidate for governor Jerry Brown is investigating.

JERRY BROWN: When you start spending hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars, and then there are complaints made, and then there is a dumpster with records and there's demands for open records, that triggers enough that we want to look into it.

MITCHELL: The school says its foundation is paying the freight. But critics say the foundation is led by the university president, based on campus, and uses taxpayer supported facilities. And a new FEC report from Palin's political action committee shows she spent most of the money she's raised on overhead, not campaign contributions.

REID WILSON, HOTLINE ONCALL EDITOR: She contributed $7,500 to candidates and she spent $14,000 de-icing a private jet.

MITCHELL: The university president says that Palin is being paid with private funds to raise money for university programs and she's driving ticket sales to unprecedented levels. Still, today he says that he is asking police to investigate whether that contract was stolen from a university administrator's office. Meredith?

VIEIRA: Andrea Mitchell, thank you very much.

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