Displaying a stunning double standard on Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie gave Vice President Joe Biden plenty of room to applaud President Obama's debate performance, while fellow co-host Matt Lauer hammered Congressman Paul Ryan on issue after issue.
In her first question to Biden, Guthrie wondered if the President had "repaired the damage from his lackluster performance in the first debate," then followed up with: "Is the President's strategy here to beat Romney by disqualifying him in the minds of voters?" Meanwhile, Lauer began his interview with Ryan by asking essentially the same question: "A lot of the reporting this morning says that the President was the aggressor and may have won back some of the momentum lost after the first debate. Would you agree with that?"
Lauer prefaced his question to Ryan by declaring: "I'm not gonna ask you who won, I think that's too easy for you."
Several of Guthrie's questions to Biden were open-ended, allowing him to spin however he wanted:
> At what point do you think the President compellingly and persuasively articulated what he will do in the next four years, not defending his record from the last four, but a forward-looking agenda?
> You were watching this debate closely. I wondered if you noticed what a lot of people watching noticed, a moment when the candidates seemed to circle each other, getting in each other's faces a little bit. You've been around politics a long time. Have you ever seen anything like that?
Rather than attempt to fact check Biden in one of his first interviews following the vice presidential debate, Guthrie only asked a single question on his style: "As you know, a lot of people noticed your demeanor. When not answering a question, let's put it this way, you seemed to be having a good time. Have you watched back tape of that debate, and would you do it the same way all over again?"
It was a starkly different story in Lauer's exchange with Ryan moments later. After pushing Ryan to agree that the President had gained momentum following the second presidential debate, Lauer grilled the Congressman on providing more specifics:
> You and Mitt Romney want to cut marginal tax rates about 20% across the board. You don't want to add to the deficit. You don't want to raise taxes on the middle class. A voter last night asked Governor Romney for specifics about which deductions would go away, and Governor Romney did not answer with specifics. The President jumped on that. Vice President Biden with Savannah just jumped on that. I've looked back at your interviews, Congressman, over the last couple of months on this subject, you do not offer specifics. Why?
> But you're saying you're gonna leave it up to Congress, where's the leadership in this? You're a numbers guy?
> All I'm asking is, as you're asking undecided voters to close the deal for you here, don't those voters have a right to know exactly what they're getting?
Even with a soft question at the end of the segment, Lauer still attempted to put Ryan on the spot: "On November 17th, a week or so after the election, Wisconsin will play Ohio State in a football game. I want you to tell the people of Ohio who's going to win that game....Who's going to win the game, Congressman?...Tell the people of Ohio who's gonna win the game."
The discussion prompted laughter in the Today studio and with Ryan, but Guthrie made it seem as if the prior interrogation hadn't happened: "Who new the toughest question would be about sports?"