NBC's Mike Taibbi, on Saturday's Today show, portrayed the pro-labor union protestors in Wisconsin in almost heroic terms as he hailed "The crowds of overnight campers and protestors keep up their vigils. A weary resolve still evident" and depicted them as victims that were "taking the hits." On the other hand the GOP was painted as the bad guys with Taibbi detailing "Republicans used an obscure rule allowing them to end all debate" and "have tried other means of persuasion, suspending direct deposit of the Democrats' paychecks, even sending state police to several of their local homes."
Taibbi's piece was also peppered with pro-union soundbites including a Democratic state senator calling the budget bill "backwards" and a protestor cheering, "we are getting worn out but we are stronger than ever." Taibbi also aired various clips of protestors chanting "Shame! Shame!" "Scott Walker has got to go!" and "Yes we can" but allowed only one voice of dissent from the other side, with the aforementioned Governor Walker getting a brief clip to announce: "Enough time has passed. It's time to come back and have a vote on this measure."
The following is a complete transcript of the segment as it was aired on the February 26 Today show:
LESTER HOLT: The Wisconsin standoff between public labor unions and the state legislature took a dramatic turn Friday. The state's assembly passed a highly contested bill, but this political tug-of-war is far from over. NBC's Mike Taibbi reports.
[On screen headline: "Badgered State, Chaos Continues Over Budget In Wisconsin"]
MIKE TAIBBI: At one o'clock Friday morning it really was all over but the shouting. Democrats in Wisconsin state assembly shouting in anger after Republicans used an obscure rule allowing them to end all debate and vote yes on the bill that rolls back the benefits and bargaining power of the state's public unions.
(Clip of Democrats chanting "Shame! Shame!")
TAIBBI: But that vote doesn't make Governor Scott Walker's bill law. The state senate has to pass it and Walker kept the pressure on the 14 AWOL Democrats -- 11 of whom were on MSNBC's The Ed Show last night -- to do their job.
GOV. SCOTT WALKER, WISCONSIN-R: Enough time has passed. It's time to come back and have a vote on this measure.
TAIBBI: Senate Republicans have tried other means of persuasion, suspending direct deposit of the Democrats' paychecks, even sending state police to several of their local homes to try and collect them.
STATE SENATOR CHRIS LARSON, WISCONSIN-D: Until they take this, this backwards budget bill off the table there's nothing really to go back to.
TAIBBI: Inside the state house, meanwhile, the crowds of overnight campers and protestors keep up their vigils.
(Clip of protestors chanting "Yes we can!")
TAIBBI: A weary resolve still evident.
SOL KELLY-JONES, PROTESTOR: I think we are getting worn out but we are stronger than ever.
TAIBBI: But in what's primarily a numbers game it is organized labor that's taking the hits.
(Clip of protestors chanting: "Scott Walker has got to go!")
TAIBBI: Some Madison teachers getting their pay back for the days they were protesting, instead of teaching. But the practical deadline for both the governor and his opponents is next Tuesday. That's when the governor gives his budget address and that's when his threat to order layoffs becomes reality, if his bill has not been voted on and passed. For Today, Mike Taibbi, NBC News, Madison, Wisconsin.
—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here