NBC's Today: Caroline Kennedy 'More Dignitary Than Diplomat'

President Obama began a week-long trip of Asia on Wednesday with a stop in Japan, and NBC's Today dutifully heaped praise on the trip and the American Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy. On April 23, Co-host Matt Lauer gushed at the "Historic trip. President Obama greeted by Ambassador Caroline Kennedy as he arrives in Japan this morning. The first state visit by a president there in nearly two decades and Ambassador Kennedy's first major summit in her new role."

The two-and-a-half-minute segment began with reporter Peter Alexander glowing at "A large crowd, including his ambassador, greeted the president today in Tokyo. But that doesn't compare to the thousands who lined the streets here last fall to welcome Caroline Kennedy, riding in a horse-drawn carriage, she was more dignitary than diplomat. Completing the journey her father could not." [See video below.]

Alexander continued his promotional piece by noting "Over the last six months, the focus has actually been on a different American here in Japan, that's Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. In a just published Japanese newspaper interview, President Obama praises Kennedy, the first woman Ambassador to Japan, calling her a role model for women in both nations."

The NBC reporter went on to swoon over Kennedy and hyped how "The once shy-eyed Kennedy lacked diplomatic experience, but brought the Japanese something many here value more, America's enduring connection to Camelot."  

Alexander proceeded to heap even more praise on Kennedy and marveled at how she was involved in "Throwing out the opening pitch at a baseball game, a shared Japanese and American pastime. Ambassador Kennedy's been on the fast track, recently joining Japan's Prime Minister at 311 miles an hour to help secure billions of dollars in Japanese loans to bring the advanced technology to the U.S."

The Caroline Kennedy promotional segemnt concluded with one last gushing comment: 

Caroline Kennedy has actually done very few interviews since arriving here in Japan. And the Japanese here, Matt, want to hear a lot more from her because of her celebrated family name, and of course, her direct line to the president. 

While NBC was quick to praise Kennedy's role as Ambassador to Japan, they were not so eager to report on Vice President Biden's gaffe during his 2013 trip to the country. During his visit, Biden remarked while speaking to a group of Japanese business women, "Do your husbands like working full time?" None of the network morning shows covered Biden's gaffe at the time, yet NBC happily gave Caroline Kennedy glowing press during President Obama's visit to Japan. 

In March of 2013, ABC's Good Morning America showed that the network love for the Kennedy's was far from over. Reporter David Muir gushed, "The indelible images of Caroline Kennedy's childhood: The little girl in the White House hiding under her father's desk, sitting beside her mother in bed. And if you look closely, there is often something else, books." 

See relevant transcript below.  


NBC

Today 

April 23, 2014 

MATT LAUER: Historic trip. President Obama greeted by Ambassador Caroline Kennedy as he arrives in Japan this morning. The first state visit by a president there in nearly two decades and Ambassador Kennedy's first major summit in her new role.

7:06 a.m. Eastern  [2 min 38 seconds]

LAUER: Meanwhile, President Obama has just arrived in Tokyo this morning kicking off a very high-profile visit to Asia. And he was welcomed at the airport by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy. NBC's White House Correspondent Peter Alexander is also in Tokyo. Peter, good morning. 

PETER ALEXANDER: Matt, good morning to you. President Obama arriving here just a short time ago as you saw. His first stop, a private sushi dinner with the Japanese Prime Minister. Over the last six months, the focus has actually been on a different American here in Japan, that's Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. In a just published Japanese newspaper interview, President Obama praises Kennedy, the first woman Ambassador to Japan, calling her a role model for women in both nations. A large crowd, including his ambassador, greeted the president today in Tokyo. But that doesn't compare to the thousands who lined the streets here last fall to welcome Caroline Kennedy, riding in a horse-drawn carriage, she was more dignitary than diplomat. Completing the journey her father could not. 

CAROLINE KENNEDY: He had hoped to be the first United States president to visit Japan. So it is a special honor for me to be able to work to strengthen the close ties between our two great countries. 

ALEXANDER: The once shy-eyed Kennedy lacked diplomatic experience, but brought the Japanese something many here value more, America's enduring connection to Camelot. 

KENNEDY: Growing up in a family dedicated to public service, I saw how people can come together. 

ALEXANDER: In her first month, she laid a wreath in Nagasaki and visited victims of the disastrous earthquake and tsunami.

KENNEDY: Until you come here, it's really difficult to appreciate the enormity of the loss and destruction.

ALEXANDER: Even throwing out the opening pitch at a baseball game, a shared Japanese and American pastime. Ambassador Kennedy's been on the fast track, recently joining Japan's Prime Minister at 311 miles an hour to help secure billions of dollars in Japanese loans to bring the advanced technology to the U.S. But as Kennedy herself has made clear, she didn't come here to serve Japanese interests. Her January tweet deepely concerned by the inhumanenss of drive-hunt dolphin hunting, angered many Japanese, who take pride in their traditional dolphin hunt. 

SHEILA SMITH: She will be called upon to articulate and to implement U.S. policy in ways that are not always going to be comfortable, I think, for the Japanese government. 

ALEXANDER: Caroline Kennedy has actually done very few interviews since arriving here in Japan. And the Japanese here Matt, want to hear a lot more from her because of her celebrated family name, and of course, her direct line to the president. 

LAUER: Alright, Peter Alexander in Tokyo. Peter thanks very much.    

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.