NBC Praises Maria Shriver as 'The Liberal Polished Member of One of America's Most Prestigious Families'

During coverage of Arnold Schwarzengger's admitted affair on Tuesday, members of NBC's Today promoted his wife and their former colleague, Maria Shriver. Correspondent Natalie Morales declared that despite "much public scrutiny" of their marriage, "Many say it was Maria's enduring support through it all that allowed them to become one of America's most powerful couples."

Morales described Shriver as, "a member of the Kennedy political dynasty who became a network news correspondent....[then] left her long-time job at NBC News to support her husband's political career." Morales touted how Shriver's "support then, led to his landslide victory," and remarked: "Since then, the Republican foreign-born action movie star and the liberal polished member of one of America's most prestigious families, became a formidable team."

Following Morales's report, co-host Matt Lauer spoke with HollywoodLife.com editor-in-chief Bonnie Fuller and psychiatrist Gail Saltz. At the end of that discussion, Lauer asked Saltz: "Generally speaking, what allows a marriage to succeed and what generally ends a marriage after something like this?" Saltz oddly used the Kennedy family legacy as an example of how a marriage could last: "...if people can get together and understand what brought them together....acknowledge how important the life narrative that they have shared together is....To a family like a Kennedy family, who knows how important a life narr – a life history is to the meaning of the rest of their lives, that's a possibility."

Here is a full transcript of the May 17 segment:

7:31AM ET

MATT LAUER: Let us begin this half hour with more on that overnight stunner from Arnold Schwarzenegger. That he fathered a child more than ten years ago with a woman who worked in his home. Today national correspondent Natalie Morales has more. Natalie, good morning.

NATALIE MORALES: And good morning to you, Matt. Well, there's no comment this morning from Maria Shriver, according to her spokesman, but over the years their marriage has been the source of much public scrutiny, with reported troubles and allegations Schwarzenegger had groped women. Many say it was Maria's enduring support through it all that allowed them to become one of America's most powerful couples.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Schwarzenegger Bombshell; Maria Shriver's Journey]

Maria Shriver's a member of the Kennedy political dynasty who became a network news correspondent, working for an extended time with NBC News. Shriver left her long-time job at NBC News to support her husband's political career. On the campaign trail in 2003, Shriver defended Schwarzenegger, who was accused of groping women during his time as an actor.

MARIA SHRIVER: You can listen to people who have never met Arnold or who met him for five seconds 30 years ago or you can listen to me.

MORALES: Her support then, led to his landslide victory. Since then, the Republican foreign-born action movie star and the liberal polished member of one of America's most prestigious families, became a formidable team. Maria stood by her husband throughout his time in office, becoming one of the most visible first ladies in California, as she brought attention to volunteerism and women's issues.


But that all changed when Schwarzenegger left office in January. The two effectively began leading separate lives. While Schwarzenegger jetted around the world, looking to restart his acting career, Maria has stayed closer to home, working on her women's empowerment website and spending time with her four children. Video of Shriver last month showed her without her wedding ring. And two months ago on YouTube, she posted a video, talking openly about transitions.

SHRIVER: It's so stressful to not know what you're doing next. How did you find your transition? Personal, professional, emotional, spiritual, financial. How did you get through it?

MORALES: Last Friday, after the couple's separation was made public, Shriver sent a Twitter message to her more than 750,000 followers, 'Thank you all for the kindness, support and compassion. I am humbled by the love. Thank you.' And according to the Los Angeles Times, some of Shriver's friends say she had been unhappy for years, though she made no decisions until after her father, Sargent Shriver, died earlier this year. Matt.

LAUER: Alright, Natalie, thank you very much. Bonnie Fuller is the editor-in-chief of HollywoodLife.com. Dr. Gail Saltz is a psychiatrist and Today contributor. Ladies, good morning to both of you.

BONNIE FULLER: Good morning.

GAIL SALTZ: Good morning, Matt.

LAUER: Let's start with a couple of things that I think are going to raise a lot of eyebrows. First of all, he told Maria this after he left the governor's office. And I think that's going to cause some anger in people who are saying he stayed quiet to protect his political career before he came forward. How do you feel about that?

FULLER: Oh, I think he absolutely stayed quiet to protect his political career and also to protect his marriage, because she was such an incredible asset to him. She stood by him all those years and he knew it would be devastating that somebody so close to them that she had known for 20 years was the person who had cheated with him and who he'd fathered a child with.

LAUER: And devastating because she stood by him in 2003 and made that definitive statement and then to find this out some ten years later.

FULLER: That's correct, makes her look like a fool.

LAUER: The other, Gail, is when you think about it, that he knew this before he ran for public office.

SALTZ: Correct.

LAUER: So he must have felt he could keep this secret, despite the fact that any public official in this country faces enormous scrutiny.

SALTZ: And he did keep it secret. I think the issue is when you think about infidelity, what's painful? What's painful is betrayal. So this is a different kind and level of betrayal, when you keep a secret that you had an affair with someone who was in the home. And now there's living proof and you kept that a secret in the service of your career instead of putting your wife's concerns first.

LAUER: These are both survivors. They've been through ups and downs. And what struck me when I first heard about this is not them as much, Maria and Arnold, but the kids.

SALTZ: Right.

LAUER: Their four children, they range in age from 13 to 21. In some ways, I would imagine as someone who counsels couples and individuals, they have to find a way put now to put their personal anger aside and keep their kids in some kind of protected place.

SALTZ: Well, they have – they do have to try to protect their children, they have to try to work this out between themselves. And work as a family so that the children can maintain a good mother and a good father. I would also say that I feel what's terrible, to some degree, or going to be very difficult, is this child. This child who believed that one person was his father for the first decade of his growing up, who is now undoubtedly going to discover that another person is his father. And that will be excruciatingly painful.

FULLER: Well I think what's also going to be very difficult is that I'm sure that Maria and Arnold's children, they knew this child very well and they knew the woman who he had an affair with. And so that's very confusing. They were in their household for 20 years. They probably played with this child growing up and the child played with them. So the whole relationship is going to be extremely complicated between all of them.

LAUER: Gail we – go ahead.

SALTZ: I was just going to say, what's a shame is that normally I would say a 25-year marriage, even if it ends, I would say was a successful marriage. That's a quarter century. That's really good. Unfortunately, this is going to taint all of that.

LAUER: But we have all seen cases in the past where some marriages survive after an even like this, others fail. Is there a rule of thumb? Generally speaking, what allows a marriage to succeed and what generally ends a marriage after something like this?

SALTZ: Generally, if people can get together and understand what brought them together in the first place and that is still there. And they acknowledge how important the life narrative that they have shared together is and how – and that turns out to be valuable to them. And to these two people that could be the case. To a family like a Kennedy family, who knows how important a life narr – a life history is to the meaning of the rest of their lives, that's a possibility. I don't count that out completely.

LAUER: Gail Saltz and Bonnie Fuller. Ladies, thanks.

FULLER: Thank you.

LAUER: I appreciate it. Good seeing you both.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC