While ABC’s Good Morning America was swooning over a “fired up and fiery” President Biden’s “message of hope” in his State of the Union address, NBC’s Today was similarly at a fever pitch of enthusiasm Wednesday as they proclaimed the “spirited” Biden “[made] an appeal for...unity” to an “angry” and “unserious” Republican Party that created a “spicy” atmosphere inside the House chamber.
Co-host Savannah Guthrie came off like a state-run news reader, boasting in the opening tease that “Biden deliver[ed] his message to Congress and the American people” and “urg[ed] the parties to come together to finish the job in a boisterous House chamber.”
Guthrie explained moments later that Biden “defend[ed] his record and making an appeal for bipartisan unity. But also sparring with several Republicans in the chamber, vocal with their opposition to some of the President’s words.”
Chief White House correspondent Peter Alexander followed the lead of ABC’s Mary Bruce in cheerfully sharing White House spin: “White House aides here could not be happier about the way things went last night.”
Using the phrase “in their eyes” as cover, Biden “captur[ed] the contrast between a President who’s energized, but serious and Republicans who, despite being warned by their leaders to behave, appeared at times unserious and angry.”
“For more than 70 minutes, President Biden seemed to take joy in jousting with his loudest critics as he delivered a State of the Union address focused on finishing the job...President Biden extending his hand to the new Speaker Kevin McCarthy before confronting Republican heckling head on,” he added.
Referring to the Republican outrage over Biden’s pants-on-fire lie that Republicans want to ax Medicare and Social Security, Alexander lamented Biden’s line “[drew] outrage and boos, including from GOP firebrand, Marjorie Taylor Greene.”
“But then with a smile,” Alexander bragged, “the President turning the table, appearing to get Republicans on board with his position to protect the popular program.”
He also said that, “when things got spicy, [House Speaker Kevin] McCarthy was seen trying to shush his boisterous members” as a “feisty” Biden kept “ribbing Republicans.”
Despite this virulent partisanship, Alexander comically insisted Biden’s “overarching theme” was “[a]n appeal for bipartisanship.”
As for the GOP response from Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-AR), Alexander said she “portray[ed] the President as the head of a failed administration hijacked by the radical left.”
Back live, Guthrie remarked to senior Washington correspondent Hallie Jackson that “it was a boisterous night” before asking this softie: “If this is the 2024 preview...of the re-election message that President Biden might take on, what have we learned?”
The two then giggled and praised Biden for talking about “everything” that “irritat[es]” people like junk fees and jobs available without a college degree (click “expand”):
JACKSON: That it’s going to be a lot about the economy. It’s going to be a lot about domestic issues. You heard him leaning into that. When did we hear about junk fees in States of the Union, right? He talked about lowering the cost of insulin..[W]e are rounding the corner into 2024 now.
GUTHRIE: It’s so interesting because what is it — 75 percent domestic policy —
GUTHRIE: — and as you mentioned, bread and butter issues, like, why do we have to pay the resort fees? It was like everything irritating in the world.
GUTHRIE: How about cable?
JACKSON: That bothers you.
GUTHRIE: Why’s your cable bill so expensive?
JACKSON: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And that, you know, listen. That’s something that he is going to hope resonates with people as he starts to presumably, if he does announces the presidential run as everybody anticipates, as he gets out and talks about jobs can you do without college degrees, that is also a message that will sit well with voters in some of these key states where there are not a constituency for Democrats who have those degrees.
Guthrie switched gears to Republicans, reiterating they were “boisterous” and created “a little Mystery Science Theatre” atmosphere “where are now just, you know, heckling and making commentaries” and fretting “that’s a debate for another day about” Congress behaving like the U.K.’s House of Parliament.
For Jackson’s part, she raved about the “spicy” line and used Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) to impale the GOP:
Senator Mitt Romney said he’s sort of sad about the loss of decorum...But let me tell you who did like some of that. Some Democratic allies of the President. I heard from one Democratic member who said he liked that the President did not back down from the fight and got in there and mixed it up.
The ladies also touched on Sanders’s speech with Jackson observing she “lean[ed] into those so-called culture war issues...what she and conservatives see as sort of wokeism on the left, trying to draw the line between what she described as normal and crazy.”
In the second hour, Guthrie and Alexander both revisited much of their verbiage from the one before. But in a tease for this rehashing, Guthrie had another few lines up her sleeve: “Coming up, making his case. President Biden delivers the State of the Union saying the economy is improving. And urging both parties to come together.”
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To see the relevant transcript from February 8, click here.