NBC's Today show never covered Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen comparing Republicans to Nazis, but on Friday co-anchor Meredith Vieira determined Sarah Palin's mocking of Barack Obama's Winning the Future slogan as the precise moment when the new era of "civility" in Washington, came to an end. After Vieira opened this morning's show announcing: "End of civility? Sarah Palin takes a shot at President Obama's call for winning the future...is the new tone of togetherness in Washington already over?" she brought on MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell to chastise Palin and Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann:
"[Palin] really struggles with that sounding presidential thing. It's a real challenge for her. And you know, look it's, it's as weird as it gets. But really if you are looking for a lack of civility or the argumentative stuff...this week you really have to go to Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. No one else is doing it."
In a segment entitled "Remember Civility? Why Are Palin & GOP Stepping Up Criticism?" O'Donnell and Vieira took turns bashing the former Alaska Governor and Minnesota Congresswoman as seen in the follow January 28 exchange:
(video, audio and transcript after the jump)
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Okay I want to move on to Sarah Palin. As Savannah mentioned, she's been going around basically bad mouthing the President. She said the acronym for his stated goal of Winning The Future, W.T.F, actually stands for "What the?" and you can fill in the blank there.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: Are you gonna finish that? Because I-
VIEIRA: I'm not gonna finish it. I'm something - you know I was scared to even bring it up.
(Laughter in the studio)
O'DONNELL: We, yeah we're not allowed to finish that on MSNBC. So, okay. She's- yeah.
VIEIRA: No we're not allowed to here either. But you know what it, what it stands for.
VIEIRA: What does she accomplish by saying something like this? What's she trying to do?
O'DONNELL: She is - really struggles with that sounding presidential thing. It's a real challenge for her. And you know, look it's, it's as weird as it gets. But really if you are looking for a lack of civility or the argumentative stuff, you, this week you really have to go to Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. No one else is doing it. And, in fact, yesterday in the Senate the bipartisan agreement about how to make things work a little bit more smoothly in the Senate. And so those two are out of tune with what everyone else is doing, at least for now.
VIEIRA: You bring up Michele Bachmann. On your show you had on John McCain's daughter, Megan McCain and she went after Bachmann saying that she is, quote, "No better than a poor man's Sarah Palin." But you know her dad ran with Palin for the presidency. So now she's bringing up Bachmann and Palin. What's going on there?
O'DONNELL: Megan's been on my show three times. And it's interesting to watch her progress. She is moving much more in the direction of being critical of these people. And- but she's not the only one. David Frum, former speech writer for George Bush. Palin now, criticizing Palin has now become a mainstream view within the Republican Party. You don't get criticized, as a Republican, for criticizing Sarah Palin.
VIEIRA: Why not?
O'DONNELL: Once that happens it's, it's a dangerous time for Palin. Her stock cannot go up. And we've seen it in polls lately. She keeps going, going down and down and down. This W.T.F week is not gonna help.
VIEIRA: Not good for her.
Incidentally, before the Palin and Bachmann criticisms, both Vieira and O'Donnell warmed up by trashing the Tea Party as already irrelevant in Washington:
VIEIRA: There's been a lot of talk about the Tea Party. Yesterday the Tea Party caucus, Senate Tea Party caucus held its first meeting without three key senators who came to office, in large part, because of that movement. Are they in trouble if they start to lose some of their rising stars so early?
O'DONNELL: Yeah they are. I mean they - half of them were no-shows. And, and one of them who didn't show up said, "You know I really don't want to coopt the Tea Party. It's a, it's a Main Street movement, you know, not a Washington movement." Well by that theory zero senators should have shown up. That would have been a successful Tea Party meeting in the Senate. So it was very disappointing and they tried to cover that up.
—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here