Near the top of Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie jumped on "a comment from Mitt Romney's son Tagg that's getting some attention....he said he wanted to, quote, 'take a swing' at the President for some of the attacks on his dad." Pretending it was a newsworthy item, she added: "The Romney campaign says this was just a joke. We'll get into that."
Introducing a campaign report minutes later, Guthrie declared the Romney son's comment in jest was "making some waves." Correspondent Peter Alexander promised viewers, "We'll play that comment for you from Tagg Romney in just a moment." For all the build-up to the supposedly controversial comments, at the end of his report, Alexander revealed the light-hearted nature of them: "During a radio interview Wednesday, Governor Romney's oldest son Tagg joked about his reaction to some of the contentious exchanges during Tuesday's debate."
A clip played of the radio exchange:
BILL LUMAYE: What is it like for you to hear the President of the United States call your dad a liar?
TAGG ROMNEY: You know-
LUMAYE: How do you react to that?
ROMNEY: Well, jump out of your seat and you want to rush down to the debate stage and take a swing at him. But you know, you can't do that because – well, first, 'cause there's a lot of Secret Service between you and him, but also, 'cause this is the nature of the process, you know, they're going to try to do everything they can do to try to make my dad into someone he's not. We signed up for it, we've gotta kind of sit there and take our punches and then send them right back the other way.
Alexander offered the campaign's response: "And this morning, a Romney campaign spokesperson tells me that Tagg was just joking about how frustrating this process can be for a family."
The attempt to play up the mild joke as some of type of gaffe or stumble came on the heels of NBC on Tuesday promoting accusations that vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan washed already-clean dishes at an Ohio soup kitchen for a photo-op. Beyond the utter pettiness of the charge, on Nightly News that evening, Alexander quietly corrected the inaccurate story: "Breakfast was over, but the soup kitchen staff agreed to leave some dirty dishes behind."