Spread out across two hours and clocking in at ten minutes and 21 seconds of coverage (excluding teases), NBC’s Today and 3rd Hour of Today kissed up to First Lady Jill Biden thanks to co-host Sheinelle Jones as they hugged and discussed the late Queen Elizabeth II, Biden’s partnership with Pintrest to reward teachers, the upcoming White House wedding for Naomi Biden (daughter of Hunter), how she spent her COVID isolation, and more.
Billed in teases by co-host Hoda Kotb as a segment touting Biden’s “mission to celebrate and help teachers” and “hopes for the future of education,” Jones opened by briefly inquiring about her memories of meeting Queen Elizabeth II.
From there, Jones played White House press aide, gushing over her trip to Tennessee “showing support for her fellow teachers...while also working to welcome those who aspire to be educators.”
Jones’s softballs kicked into gear with one about the teacher shortage and “what concerns you the most” and then two lamenting how parents have raised their voices with concerns about what their children are taught in schools. Jones even asked about parental concerns on books.
Not surprisingly, Biden called for “all books” to be allowed “in the library” because “this is America.”
Before going to 2024 and Jill’s insistence that President Joe Biden run again, there was no pushback on the reality that, by saying books shouldn’t be removed, she stated her opposition to concerns about graphic, sexual material in school libraries (click “expand”):
JONES: Parents and politicians are now weighing in on what books should be in our school libraries and what their kids are being taught. Where is the line, in your opinion, with how much of a say parents should have when it comes to what their kids are learning in school?
BIDEN: Well, I think with the pandemic parents saw how hard teachers work and how difficult this job really is and I think if they work together in their school districts and decide what they want with their curriculum.
JONES: Is there a balance between, you know, this book should be in the library?
BIDEN: All books should be in the library. All books. This is America. We don't ban books.
JONES: Dr. Biden has been First Lady now for nearly two years with the president saying he will run again in 2024. [TO BIDEN] Have you talked about it with him?
BIDEN: Not yet. We have been a little bit too busy. Not yet, but I'm sure it will be a discussion.
JONES: Do you feel ready, you and President Biden, to — to hit a second presidential campaign? It has to be taxing?
BIDEN: Well, you know, it is taxing. But, you know, look at the — look at all Joe has done. He has kept true to what he said he would do, and so I think he just needs to keep going.
The 3rd Hour of Today wasn’t any better in terms of substance. Jones opened the show by swooning over how she “love[s] my educators” and reiterated her amazement with Biden having “continued teaching even while in the White House and she’s become a champion for her fellow teachers and school kids, so we talked about that mission, unveiled the big school surprise.”
After sharing more of her memories of Queen Elizabeth II, Jones gushed that Biden “[drew] attention to something close to her heart here at home” by “shin[ing] a light on teachers.”
Jones brought up a recent study that revealed a precipitous drop of math and reading test schools for students as a result of school closures (backed by teachers unions) during the pandemic, but she didn’t suggest there was anyone to blame. Instead, she asked: “How do we make sure students of color don't get left behind?”
After a portion on teacher burnout, Jones trumpeted Biden’s partnership “with Pinterest to surprise teachers” in Knoxville, Tennessee with a new teacher’s lounge and a wedding for one of her grandkids. Of course, they didn’t touch on the fact that Naomi is the daughter of Hunter Biden, a scandal-ridden crack addict (click “expand”):
JONES: You're a teacher. You are also a grandmother.
JONES: There’s a wedding happening —
JONES: — with Naomi?
JONES: So, how do you prepare for a wedding in the white house? That sounds like a dream, first of all.
BIDEN: Step-by-step. So, we’re taking it slowly and I have been in on most of the meetings and watched her just blossom and really there’s just such joy about it. And I — I cannot wait.
They closed with how Biden spent her time in COVID isolation. That piqued the interest of the crew back in New York with Jones insisting it was proof that “First Ladies are just like us” (click “expand”):
JONES: How did you pass the time?
BIDEN: Well, you know, I am an English teacher.
BIDEN: I love to read, so I was reading so many books, articles that I could use in my class, and I watched a lot of Netflix and so, you know, like every other American who had to isolate, you had to find a way to keep yourself busy.
JONES: I was going to go into the shows she watched, Biden didn't reveal what was in her Netflix cue. But we got to know First Ladies are just like us.
ROKER: Yes, absolutely.
JONES: I should also mention that lounge reveal, that room was beautiful.
JONES: It's just part of the First Lady's collaboration with Pinterest to honor teachers. So, you can head to Today.com for an exclusive first look at a curated Pinterest board that Dr. Biden together with tips and advice for how to curate a beautiful classroom and a beautiful setting.
Prior to finally moving on, the co-hosts swooned over Biden with Melvin touting how “she doesn’t have to be Dr. B” and instead has been “still teaching and she’s still such an outspoken advocate for other teachers.”
Co-host Dylan Dreyer joined in by saying how great it was that Biden has been “fighting for teachers cause teachers are...the lifeblood of our kids’ educations.”
Co-host Al Roker wrapped things up by arguing we should have more respect for teachers: “People need to think about two years ago during the heart of the pandemic and how much they realized how important teachers are.”