NBC: Margaret Thatcher 'Too Controversial' for State Funeral; 'Dancing in the Streets' Upon Her Death

During a report on Tuesday's NBC Today, correspondent Michelle Kosinski took gratuitous shots at Margaret Thatcher while detailing funeral plans for the former British prime minister who died Monday: "...many feel this is appropriate that it will not be a state funeral because she remains so controversial....How controversial is Thatcher still today?...in Glasgow, jubilant dancing in the streets." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Kosinski did explain that a friend of Thatcher's "was quoted as saying that [Thatcher] herself did not want [a state funeral], thinking it would be a waste of money." However, during a news brief in the 9 a.m. ET hour, anchor Natalie Morales stated Kosinski's initial remark about the funeral plans as fact: "Although Thatcher will receive a large ceremonial funeral with full military honors, it will not be state funeral. Thatcher, known as the Iron Lady, was apparently too controversial for that honor."

Kosinski did describe how "News of her passing brought out the highest praise," including a clip of London Mayor Boris Johnson declaring: "Margaret Thatcher was a revolutionary and she was a liberator."

But after touting the celebration in Glasgow, Kosinski added: "In some areas blighted by the closing of mines and factories that her policies are seen to have caused, people did not hold back." A sound bite followed of Chris Skidmore of the National Union of Mineworkers ranting: "And all we've ever seen since then is the deprivation, drugs, alcohol problems."

After Kosinski's report, co-host Matt Lauer turned to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for thoughts on Thatcher's legacy. Blair provided perspective:

I think the policies she introduced in respect to the balance between the state and the market, selling off the state industries, putting trade unions within a proper legal framework, some of the measures to do with taxation and spending. I mean, there was a philosophy that even people – and I come from the opposite side of the political fence obviously – even people on the opposite side of the political fence took some of those lessons and applied them, and not just in the UK, but around the world. So, you know, look, she was a very controversial figure, but you've got to say she was also a towering figure, a huge figure, and her impact was a global one....she was obviously a very tough political leader, but I have to say, at a personal level, she was very kind and very warm.

While Kosinski's reporting on Today was dismissive of Thatcher in tone, coverage on the CBS and ABC morning shows Tuesday was dismissive in content and quantity.  

On CBS This Morning, a news brief by co-host Norah O'Donnell on funeral plans for Thatcher was followed by vapid coverage that included word of a TV station in Thailand accidently using an image of actress Meryl Streep as Thatcher in its reporting and a story by correspondent Michelle Miller about the fashion sense of Britain's first woman prime minister.

ABC's Good Morning America only provided a 16-second news brief about the funeral proceedings.


Here is a full transcript of Kosinski's April 9 Today report:

7:13AM ET

MATT LAUER: Flags were at half-staff across Great Britain this morning as that nation remembers former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The Queen authorizing a ceremonial funeral for the 87-year-old who died on Monday. NBC's Michelle Kosinski is in London this morning. Michelle, good morning to you.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI: Good morning, Matt. It has just been announced that her funeral will be held next Wednesday. The Queen and Prince Phillip will attend. Thatcher is considered to be one of the greatest world leaders of the 20th century, although many feel this is appropriate that it will not be a state funeral because she remains so controversial. But today a friend of her's was quoted as saying that she herself did not want one, thinking it would be a waste of money.

Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, not one to always follow the political rules, made up her own ones.

MARGARET THATCHER: The lady's not for turning.

Even when her advisors disagreed. According to the rules of history here, a state funeral is for monarchs, though Winston Churchill was honored with one. Princess Diana, however, and the Queen Mum, were not. And nor will Baroness Thatcher, though that does not mean there won't be an outpouring on a grand scale.

ANDREW ROBERTS [HISTORIAN]: It's going to be a massive ceremonial funeral and she was a great friend of America, a great friend of freedom.

KOSINSKI: And according to her own wishes, she will not lie in state. There will be a service at Westminster the night before her funeral, the morning of, her coffin will be drawn by gun carriage through emptied streets to St. Paul's Cathedral, met by an honor guard for a televised funeral, after which, she will be cremated.

How controversial is Thatcher still today? News of her passing brought out the highest praise.

BORIS JOHNSON [MAYOR OF LONDON]: Margaret Thatcher was a revolutionary and she was a liberator.

KOSINSKI: But in Glasgow, jubilant dancing in the streets. In some areas blighted by the closing of mines and factories that her policies are seen to have caused, people did not hold back.

CHRIS SKIDMORE [NATIONAL UNION OF MINEWORKERS]: And all we've ever seen since then is the deprivation, drugs, alcohol problems.

KOSINSKI: Some front pages today had no words, this one, "Loved, Hated, Never Forgotten."

Shortly after her funeral, her authorized biography will be published, something she had planned to come out only after her death. The woman who was unafraid to be unpopular to get things done, and once, when asked who wears the pants in your family, she said, "I do, and I wash and iron them too." Matt.

LAUER: Alright, Michelle Kosinski in London this morning. Michelle, thanks very much.

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