Appearing on Tuesday's MSNBC Morning Joe, NBC political director and chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd discounted a new satirical ad from the Obama campaign mocking Mitt Romney for mentioning Big Bird in the debate: "...this is clearly a, as I was told, 'national cable,' which seems like code for, 'We put it out there hoping a lot of people will play it over and over because we think it's a good snarky conversation.'"
However, only moments earlier, the full ad played on the MSNBC morning show, as well as during the 6 a.m. ET hour. In fact, the ad ran in full on every MSNBC show between the 5 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET hours on Tuesday, for a total of ten times. That included on Todd's own 9 a.m. ET show, The Daily Rundown.
In addition to the left-wing cable channel continuously running the ad, NBC led off its news coverage the same way, with co-host Savannah Guthrie announcing at the top of Tuesday's Today show: "The President releases a new ad starring, guess who?" A clip then followed of the Big Bird ad. Moments later, fellow co-host Matt Lauer declared: "Big Bird coming front and center in the presidential campaign."
In a report that followed, correspondent Peter Alexander actually cited the ad as "a sense of what some may describe as the absurd back and forth in this election season." He explained: "It mocks Mitt Romney's plan to eliminate federal subsidies for public broadcasting, sarcastically calling Big Bird a, quote, 'menace to our economy,' Matt, on the level of Bernie Madoff."
After Alexander's report, Lauer interviewed Arizona Senator John McCain and played the complete ad. Lauer wondered: "I'm not even sure what the question is, Senator...You know, this is the kind of ad that just does get attention, so what's your reaction to it?"
McCain ripped the ad:
Oh, I think it probably gets attention, but, again, it may show a paucity of ideas and ways to criticize Mitt Romney. The fact is that the economy is still in very bad shape, and obviously the American people are still in very difficult conditions, and the – and the one thing that President Obama can't run on is his record. And so Big Bird, I guess, is a fun thing to talk about.
It seemed especially fun for NBC to talk about.
Here is a transcript of Todd on the October 9 Morning Joe:
CHUCK TODD: When is the Obama campaign gonna stop talking about the debate? You know, one thing that – that grabs me about the Big Bird-
JOE SCARBOROUGH: That's a good point. That's a good point.
TODD: One thing that grabs me about the Big Bird ad, which by the way isn't really airing anywhere, I've confirmed they've not put it in any of their battleground state buys, this is clearly a, as I was told, "national cable," which seems like code for, "We put it out there hoping a lot of people will play it over and over because we think it's a good snarky conversation.
SCARBOROUGH: But doesn't it just remind you of the debate?
TODD: Yes. That's what I don't understand, they cannot seem to turn the page from their debate. They keep talking about it, we're now up to five days of it. When was that debate? Was last Wednesday, we're almost a week now. And they seem to still wanting to be talking about that debate and any conversation about that debate, I assume, helps Mitt Romney.
SCARBOROUGH: I think it does.
TODD: So I'm sort of – I'm kind of curious about it.