Even though the votes have all been counted, NBC couldn't resist taking one last shot at GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin on this morning's Today broadcast.
Last week, CMI released a study documenting the media's character assassination of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Analysts found that during a two-week period earlier this fall the media pushed three major narratives about Palin: that she was unqualified and unintelligent, that she's tearing apart the conservative movement and that she's little more than McCain's attack dog. All three networks reinforced the "unintelligent" theme by repeatedly playing clips from Saturday Night Live's skits ridiculing Palin, and embarrassing moments from Palin's interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric.
Reporter Savannah Guthrie virtually recapitulated CMI's study in a single news segment, rehashing all three narratives during her brief report on Palin's future in the Republican party.
First, the assertion that Palin did little more than attack during her campaign events. Guthrie noted, "The race showed Palin to be an effective campaigner able to deliver an attack with her own brand of bubbly sarcasm."
Guthrie moved on to the topic of "influential conservatives" and their doubts about Palin. Columnist Kathleen Parker stated during the segment, "You can't feel very confident in the process that led to her selection. And in the possibility, even remote, that she could become president of the United States. She may be ready someday, but she's not ready now." Guthrie did feature former White House political director Ed Rollins complimenting the governor on her ability to work a crowd, but included no quotes from "influential" conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, who called Palin a "breath of fresh air."
Inevitably, Guthrie brought up concerns that Palin is unqualified and unintelligent. She noted that, "[for Palin to] be a serious contender [in 2012] there's an image problem to shake." Guthrie punctuated this claim with a Saturday Night Live clip of Tina Fey as Palin stating, "I can see Russia from my house," and an embarrassing clip from the Couric interview. Guthrie failed to observe that the repeated airing of SNL clips during news reports may have been responsible for creating Palin's "image problem."
Steven Zeitchik of The Hollywood Reporter appeared during the segment to talk about Hollywood's interest in Palin. He told NBC, "I think what a lot of producers are saying is you know, she could really be a very good candidate either for an afternoon syndicated talk show or a nightly cable news show. I think there are a lot of possibilities there."
The complete transcript is below:
MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: It is the morning after the election and you know what that means. Some political pros already looking forward to the next presidential election. Could Sarah Palin be the Republican standard-bearer the next time around? NBC's Savannah Guthrie has been covering the Palin campaign. Savannah, Good morning to you.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, reporter: Good morning, Meredith. Well, Sarah Palin will head back to Alaska today but now that's she's had a taste of presidential politics few think she will stay there for long and may run for president herself in 2012, a prospect that's already dividing some in her own party.
JOHN MCCAIN: I am also, of course, very thankful to Governor Sarah Palin -
GUTHRIE: Thrust into national prominence, seemingly overnight, few think Sarah Palin will disappear as quickly.
MCCAIN: We can all look forward with great interest to her future service to Alaska, the Republican party and our country.
GUTHRIE: Many Republicans see her as the rising star of the party, popular with the conservative base and middle-America.
SARAH PALIN: Someone called me a redneck woman once and, you know what I said back? I said, why, thank you.
GUTHRIE: The race showed Palin to be an effective campaigner able to deliver an attack with her own brand of bubbly sarcasm.
PALIN: Thanks for the warning, Joe.
ED ROLLINS, former White House political director: I worked for four different presidents. There are certain people who connect with audiences there. Are certain people who can excite a crowd. She has that ability to do that
GUTHRIE: But some influential conservatives have openly doubted her after early missteps like this interview with Katie Couric.
PALIN: Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska, it's just right over the border.
KATHLEEN PARKER, conservative columnist: You can't feel very confident in the process that led to her selection. And in the possibility, even remote, that she could become president of the United States. She may be ready someday, but she's not ready now.
GUTHRIE: So, how would Palin prepare for a presidential run? Her term as governor lasts two more years, some think she will run for Senate in 2010. Others believe she'll spend the next years pushing a more conservative social agenda to propel her to the GOP presidential nomination. But, to be a serious contender there's an image problem to shake.
TINA FEY as SARAH PALIN: And I can see Russia from my house!
GUTHRIE: Something she's already started to address, packing three policy speeches into the final days of the campaign.
PALIN: Children with special needs. Matters of national security. Energy independence.
GUTHRIE: But Palin herself has consistently put off questions about 2012.
PALIN: As for furtherance in a political career, I'm not even going to think about that.
GUTHRIE: If not Washington, there's always Hollywood from the trail to her cameo appearance on "Saturday Night Live"
ALEC BALDWIN: What do they call her again, Tina?
SARAH PALIN: That would be Caribou Barbie.
BALDWIN: Caribou Barbie
PALIN: Thank you for that warm welcome.
GUTHRIE: Some in the entertainment industry see star quality.
STEVEN ZEITCHIK, Hollywood Reporter: I think what a lot of producers are saying is you know, she could really be a very good candidate either for an afternoon syndicated talk show or a nightly cable news show. I think there are a lot of possibilities there.
GUTHRIE: And in her personal life, a big year ahead. Palin will become a grandmother in December when daughter Bristol gives birth and has a summer wedding to plan for Bristol and fiancé Levi Johnston.
Back to politics for a minute. A senior adviser to Palin says don't just think about 2012, there is a possibility of 2016 or beyond. She's a young woman and many think she has a bright political future.
VIEIRA: Savannah Guthrie, thank you very much.