Reacting to Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention Thursday night, on Friday morning, the hosts and correspondents of NBC’s Today scolded the GOP nominee for his “dark” tone of “doom and gloom.” Opening the broadcast, co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: “Donald Trump closes out the Republican National Convention in a speech that was both fiery...and dark.”
Moments later, fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie chimed in: “Depending on you ask, some saw a leader ready to put America back on track, others saw a lot of doom and gloom.” Correspondent Peter Alexander followed: “This wasn't exactly Ronald Reagan's ‘shining city on the hill,’ it wasn’t George W. Bush's ‘compassionate conservatism.’ Instead, it was Donald Trump's order and the border.”
After briefly noting Trump “basking in another historic moment,” Alexander kept up the negative talking point of the morning: “With the biggest speech of his short political career...Trump cast himself as an angry and all-powerful national defender....The GOP nominee hammering home nationalist themes, presenting the country as a dark place.”
Wrapping up the report, the reporter eagerly touted Democratic attacks:
The Democrats were quick to respond, including Bernie Sanders, whose name was mentioned twice last night, putting this out on Twitter, he said, quoting Trump, “I alone can fix this,” adding, “Is this guy running for president or dictator?” As for the Democratic opponent for Trump this fall, Hillary Clinton, she said the following, quoting Trump saying, “I am with you,” adding an asterisk, saying, “*not included, women, African Americans, LGBT people, Muslims, Latinos, and immigrants.”
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In a panel discussion following the story, Guthrie acknowledged that the speech was “well received in the room” but wondered: “How do you think it will be received in living rooms?” Political analyst Nicolle Wallace defended Trump: “I think they saw a leader in that room...” However, she added: “I said last night, the party that I was apart of for two decades died in that room last night. But what they want is this isolationism and protectionism that Mr. Trump offered.”
Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd didn’t hide his disdain: “I don't think he broadened his appeal here....I think there are some people that wake up and say, ‘Wow, the country is deteriorating,’ but I think a lot of people didn't recognize that country that he described either. So I think it's a very polarizing speech.”
Lauer repeated Alexander’s observation that “this wasn’t the ‘shining city on the hill,’ this wasn’t ‘Morning in America.’” Todd continued: “It was just very dark....even when we’ve had difficult elections at bottom – you know, where we feel like we’ve hit bottom – whoever is running is trying to have a sunny atmosphere, have a sunny personality. That was not there at all.”
Guthrie later fretted: “It didn't seem like this was a convention that was about the tried and true general election pivot. It does seem that he’s still talking to Republican base voters.”
Here is are excerpts of the July 22 coverage:
7:02 AM ET
MATT LAUER: Another raucous night at the RNC, Donald Trump delivering the most important speech of his life.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Depending on you ask, some saw a leader ready to put America back on track, others saw a lot of doom and gloom. The big question this morning, did the man behind the Art of the Deal, seal the deal?
LAUER: We’ve got it all covered this morning, starting with NBC national correspondent Peter Alexander out in Cleveland. Peter, good morning.
PETER ALEXANDER: Matt and Savannah, good morning to you from here in Cleveland. This wasn't exactly Ronald Reagan's “shining city on the hill,” it wasn’t George W. Bush's “compassionate conservatism.” Instead, it was Donald Trump's order and the border. A focus of his speech last night in a country where nearly 70% of Americans say the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction, Trump offered an indictment of the status quo and insisted he's the only man to fix it.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump Makes His Case; Accepts GOP Nomination With Fiery Speech]
Donald Trump's crowning achievement, basking in another historic moment.
DONALD TRUMP: I humbly and gratefully accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.
ALEXANDER: With the biggest speech of his short political career...
TRUMP: I am your voice!
ALEXANDER: ...Trump cast himself as an angry and all-powerful national defender.
TRUMP: I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order to our country. I am going to make our country rich again.
ALEXANDER: Trump outlining his firm approach to fighting crime and terror.
TRUMP: The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon – and I mean very soon – come to an end.
ALEXANDER: And offering new specifics on his proposed Muslim ban.
TRUMP: We must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism.
ALEXANDER: The GOP nominee hammering home nationalist themes, presenting the country as a dark place.
7:06 AM ET
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let’s turn to Nicolle Wallace and Chuck Todd. Guys, good morning to you. Late night, we were all there, it seemed like the speech was well received in the room. How do you think it will be received in living rooms?
NICOLLE WALLACE: You know, I think that they saw a leader in that room and I think there's a lag in digesting what it was that he said. And reading some of the coverage this morning it's abundantly clear that where the GOP voters are now is not where they’ve been for the last two decades. I said last night, the party that I was apart of for two decades died in that room last night. But what they want is this isolationism and protectionism that Mr. Trump offered.
MATT LAUER: What do you think?
CHUCK TODD: Well, I think it’s – you know, I don't know. I don't think he broadened his appeal here a little bit. It was a very – I don't know how many people – I think there are some people that wake up and say, “Wow, the country is deteriorating,” but I think a lot of people didn't recognize that country that he described either. So I think it's a very polarizing speech.
LAUER: Yeah, let’s – on your point there, this wasn’t the “shining city on the hill,” this wasn’t “Morning in America,” he sounded like a wartime president last night.
TODD: It was just very dark. And you’re just used to, no matter what, no matter – even when we’ve had difficult elections at bottom – you know, where we feel like we’ve hit bottom – whoever is running is trying to have a sunny atmosphere, have a sunny personality. That was not there at all. Now, maybe that – you know, maybe the electorate isn’t going to respond to sunny.
WALLACE: And I would say his – what he’s been so masterful at doing is speaking to people’s anxieties. But where he has fallen short time and time again is laying out a solution for getting us to a better place. And that was true of last night as well.