On Monday morning’s Today, NBC seemed to respond to Wanda Sykes making jokes about hoping Rush Limbaugh being the 20t terrorist and hoping his kidneys would fail...by making the issue Limbaugh’s potential to be a liability for the Republicans. There was no question whether Wanda Sykes was a liability for the Democrats, or the White House correspondents who invited her to wish Limbaugh dead on a national stage. In a report by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie (complete with the on-screen question "Is Limbaugh a Liability To The GOP?"), Rush was controversial, while Sykes was apparently just funny:
GUTHRIE: Meantime over the weekend, radio host Rush Limbaugh continued to dominate the political conversation in Washington.
OBAMA: The Republican Party does not qualify for a bailout. Rush Limbaugh does not count as a troubled asset. I'm sorry.
GUTHRIE: On Sunday, former Vice President Dick Cheney, was asked if he had to choose between having Limbaugh or former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who endorsed Obama, in the Republican Party, the former VP did not hesitate.
DICK CHENEY: Well if I had to choose, in terms of being a Republican, I'd go with Rush Limbaugh I think. I think, my take on it was that Colin had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican.
GUTHRIE: But some say comedian Wanda Sykes, Saturday night's entertainer at the dinner, took the criticism of Limbaugh too far.
WANDA SYKES: I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, but he was just so strung out on Oxycontin, he missed his flight. Too much? Okay. Okay.
GUTHRIE: Well back to those health care savings we're gonna hear about today. It's unclear how much will get in the way of specifics. And senior administration officials acknowledge a lot of the savings that we're talking about are dependent on health care reform getting done, Meredith.
MRC's Geoffrey Dickens also found that David Gregory was interviewed, and he agreed that Sykes went too far: "I think there were a lot of people in the room who thought it was off the rails, gone too far." (By that segment, NBC’s on-screen question was "Did White House Dinner Go Too Far?") But Gregory was more insistent that Dick Cheney was a major liability for the refashioning Republicans:
GREGORY: So he's made a decision to be rather activist out there in his criticism. Those in the White House think he is being quite undignified in his behavior and they take issue with him. And they're gonna continue to do that. So this will be a debate that's gonna play out in public for while.
VIEIRA: Yeah how about fellow Republicans, that now he is the face of the party?
GREGORY: Well I think it's a problem to the extent that the Republican Party is looking for a way to be a constructively, to, to constructively oppose the President and to be a constructive opposition party. And to the extent that Dick Cheney is an activist voice, a major voice of the Republican Party, that does not help them find new leadership going forward. He is gonna be an important voice, but he's really not the kind of leadership voice that they want going forward. And look, a lot of Republicans today are trying to find distance from Bush and Cheney, as they try to refashion their image, refashion the face of the party. So I think it's counterproductive to the extent that Cheney and Rush Limbaugh are the leading voices. It, it crowds out the new face, that new leadership opportunity for the party.
The regular Today crew found nothing at all objectionable about the Sykes routine:
ROKER: He had the room going. He really did. Had a couple of funny lines about Rahm Emanuel and John Boehner so you know-
LAUER: It's always a bit of an interesting night and, and usually there is at least one joke that comes out that we end up talking about the next day-
LAUER: -because it does cross the line a little bit but it doesn't seem like any major injuries for this one.
VIEIRA: Not that I heard of, no.