In an astonishing display of hypocrisy, NBC News repeatedly decried Mitt Romney using celebrity businessman Donald Trump to fundraise for his campaign. This is the same Donald Trump who hosts NBC reality shows The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice and who routinely appears on the Today show to promote those programs, including just last week.
On Tuesday's Today, correspondent Peter Alexander declared that Trump "causes heartburn for some in the Republican Party because of his insistence on renewing questions about where the President was born." He later wrapped up his report by parroting Obama campaign talking points: "The Obama campaign accusing Romney of failing to stand up against what they call the extreme voices in the Republican Party. And the Obama campaign says that includes Donald Trump."
There was similar hand-wringing on the network throughout the holiday weekend. On Monday's Today, White House correspondent Kristen Welker observed: "Some analysts think Trump could be a political risk." The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza warned Romney: "...you have to be very, very careful."
On Sunday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Mike Viqueira touted how: "Some Republicans say the decision is a mistake." A sound bite followed of columnist George Will arguing: "The cost of appearing with this bloviating ignoramus is obvious, it seems to me."
On Sunday's Meet the Press, host David Gregory invited liberal columnist E.J. Dionne to bash the GOP for daring to associate with Trump: "How much damage here, E.J., is there getting so close to the flame if you're Governor Romney, seeking an endorsement and a – and an ally that I think a lot of people have never quite understood?"
Dionne proceeded to rant:
Well, I think that if Governor Romney doesn't put out some very, very, very clear statement that he distances himself from this birther stuff, I don't know why he is hanging around with Donald Trump. But Governor Romney has not distanced himself from the right-wing on anything. He hasn't taken a step back from this new extremism in the Republican Party....I think that Mitt Romney has to step back from this at some point and he hasn't done it yet.
So when is NBC planning to "step back" from Trump? On May 21, Trump appeared on Today with comedian Arsenio Hall, winner of the latest season of The Celebrity Apprentice. Fill-in co-host Lester Holt helped promote the show by asking Trump what other celebrities he would like to have as contestants.
NBC has no problem using Trump to get ratings and make money.
Here is a full transcript of Alexander's May 29 report:
ANN CURRY: Mitt Romney's expected to officially lock up the Republican presidential nomination today as voters head to the polls in Texas. And tonight he'll be in Las Vegas for a fundraiser hosted by Donald Trump. NBC's Peter Alexander has the latest on the race and he joins us now. Hey, Peter, good morning.
PETER ALEXANDER: Ann, good morning to you. With a win in today's Texas primary, Mitt Romney will accomplish something that his father never did and something that no one in the Mormon church has ever done. He will clinch the Republican nomination, just in time for the grueling summer months of campaigning to begin.
Today the campaign revs up again, after both the President and Mitt Romney paused to pay their respects to America's veterans. In Texas, voters go to the polls expected to give Romney the delegates he needs to clinch the Republican nomination. How will he celebrate? At a pair of fundraisers in Las Vegas, side by side with Romney's highest profile celebrity advocate, Donald Trump. The campaign has been soliciting donations by offering a chance to "Dine With the Donald." Trump causes heartburn for some in the Republican Party because of his insistence on renewing questions about where the President was born. Monday night Romney said he doesn't agree with all of the people who support him.
MITT ROMNEY: I need to get 50.1 percent or more, and I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.
ALEXANDER: Romney recently reflected on the last several months of his campaign in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, saying this comment...
ROMNEY: I like being able to fire people.
ALEXANDER: ...is the one mistake that makes him, in his words, "want to kick myself in the seat of my pants." Romney says he likes the game of politics because it's "like a sport for old guys." But the 65-year-old noted he keeps a journal on his iPad.
It's the first presidential race since 1944 where neither candidate is a military veteran. But both men recognize the importance of the veteran vote. Romney marked Memorial Day alongside one of the nation's most respected veterans, John McCain.
ROMNEY: Senator McCain, a national treasure. Thank you for being here and honoring all of our veterans.
ALEXANDER: The President, also surrounded by veterans, tried to emphasize his commitment to America's troops as more of them returned home.
BARACK OBAMA: You shouldn't have to fight for a roof over your head when you've fought on behalf of the country that you love.
ALEXANDER: And this morning the campaigns are going after each other once again. The Obama campaign accusing Romney of failing to stand up against what they call the extreme voices in the Republican Party. And the Obama campaign says that includes Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the Romney campaign is accusing the President of being hostile toward job creators. Ann, the summer campaign is just getting under way.
CURRY: Exactly, Peter Alexander. Thank you so much.