At the top of Sunday's NBC Today, co-host Erica Hill cheered President Obama's performance at Saturday's White House Correspondents' Dinner as she announced: "Comedian-in-chief....President Obama gets lots of laughs at the White House Correspondents' Dinner." Moments later, fellow co-host Lester Holt gushed that Obama was "very, very funny...very loose." Hill agreed, suggesting the President "take that show on the road." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Following a report on how Obama "embraced his role as comedian-in-chief," Hill asked Meet the Press moderator David Gregory for his thoughts on the presidential stand-up. Gregory happily joined in the Obama praise: "I think the President did well. I mean, the President always does well. Any president does who, you know, is in a position to be sort of rooted on in many ways. And I think that's what happened last night. But I think the President was particularly on last night..." One wonders who Gregory thought had "rooted on" the President at the event heavily attended by media figures.
On Monday's Today, weatherman Al Roker, a dinner attendee, extolled Obama's humor: "The President's timing was pretty spot on." Prompting co-host Matt Lauer to observe: "He's good at that, too." Roker replied: "He really is."
Fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie, also a dinner guest, declared: "Both of them. I mean, it actually – often it's, one's funny, the other isn't. But both Conan O'Brien and the President were funny and the people enjoyed it."
Later in the broadcast, Roker offered this rave review of the President's performance: "the President does a great stand-up routine, he really is terrific..."
While NBC was happy to play numerous clips of Obama's punch lines, the coverage featured only limited footage of late night host Conan O'Brien at the dinner. That included many joke's made at the President's expense, such as this:
O'BRIEN: President Obama has already made a lot of changes in his second term. Sir, you recently appointed John Kerry and Chuck Hagel. Very smart move, you appointed the only two people in the United States who look even more tired than you. It's a great strategy.
Mr. President, you're gonna leave office as a very young man. And yet the presidency has taken it's toll. I don't want to alarm you sir, but you're starting to look like a judge on Law and Order. Just say, "You are on thin ice, counselor," you could have that part right away. Seriously Mr. President, your hair is so white, it could be a member of your cabinet.
NBC's fawning coverage was identical to that of ABC, with Good Morning America hosts similarly expressing their thrill over the "comedian-in-chief" Obama being "on fire."
Here is a full transcript of the April 28 report on Sunday's Today:
8:00AM ET TEASE:
ERICA HILL: Comedian-in-chief.
BARACK OBAMA: My team and I talked about it, we were willing to try anything, so we borrowed one of Michelle's tricks.
[PICTURE OF PRESIDENT WEARING BANGS]
HILL: President Obama gets lots of laughs at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Many at the expense of the media, and all in good fun.
8:01AM ET TEASE:
LESTER HOLT: We're reporting from Washington this morning because we were lucky enough to attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner last night. You know, yesterday we were talking about the proms. I said I never went to the prom. So this was kind of our prom.
HILL: So you went to your nerd prom.
HOLT: I went to the nerd prom. Did you have a good time?
HILL: I had a great time. You?
HOLT: I did have a great time. The President, you saw there, was very, very funny.
HILL: He was funny.
HOLT: Very loose. We're going to show you a little more about that and some of the other highlights. The bangs, I think, were really working for him.
HILL: The bangs were a big hit, yes. He may want to take that show on the road.
HOLT: You know, whatever works in politics, I suspect.
HILL: It's true.
HOLT: Anyway, we'll show you a lot more of that coming up.
8:05AM ET SEGMENT:
HOLT: We want to turn now to the White House Correspondents' Dinner last night.
HILL: It's a chance for Washington and for the journalists who cover the city to break bread together and poke a bit of fun at one another. President Obama embraced his role as comedian-in-chief. Our White House correspondent Peter Alexander was there for the laughs, along with us. And we all made it into work this morning, Peter, which was a good thing since we all left at about the same time.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Political Punch; Comedy & Celebrity at White House Correspondents' Dinner]
PETER ALEXANDER: Yeah, I feel like I saw you just a couple of hours ago. Of course you talked about the politicians, the journalists, plenty of celebrities too. A couple of sightings I had, Bradley Cooper, Katy Perry there. They call this, as you noted, the nerd prom, but it's highlighted each year by these dueling comedic appearances – this year between the President and late-night host Conan O'Brien – where really nothing is off-limits, not the politicians, the pundits, or even the President himself.
TIM DALEY: It's like when two different zoos get together, you know? The Hollywood zoo and D.C. zoo.
TRACY MORGAN: Obama. You know, that's my man.
BARACK OBAMA: Thank you everybody. How you like my new entrance music? Rush Limbaugh warned you about this. Second term, baby.
CONAN O'BRIEN: Tonight, I'm excited to announce that Turner Broadcasting is going to make a major television mini-series about the big power players here in Washington. Vice President Joe Biden is going to be played by Bob Barker. Paul Ryan will be played by Mr. Bean. Secretary of State John Kerry will be played by an Easter Island head.
OBAMA: These days I look in the mirror and I have to admit I'm not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be.
I understand second term, need a burst of new energy, try some new things. And my team and I talked about it, we were willing to try anything, so we borrowed one of Michelle's tricks.
[PICTURE OF PRESIDENT WEARING BANGS]
And I went to the opening of the Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. It was a wonderful event. And that inspired me to get started on my own legacy, which will actually begin by building another edifice right next to the Bush Library. Can we show that, please?
[PICTURE OF BILLBOARD NEXT TO BUSH LIBRARY SAYING "HIS FAULT"]
OBAMA: I go out on the basketball court, took 22 shots, made two of them.
OBAMA: That's right. Two hits, 20 misses. The executives at NBC asked, "What's your secret?"
ALEXANDER: Yeah, so even NBC wasn't off-limits last night. You know, there were some serious moments, Erica and Lester, as well. Most specifically when the President and Conan O'Brien honored the victims, paid tribute to the victims of the Boston bombing. But even for Conan O'Brien, a proud Boston native, there was a proud punch line, where he said, "If you're gonna pick on a city, you shouldn't choose one where nine out of ten are related to a cop.
HILL: And it was excellent advice, and that did get a nice chuckle there. Alright, Peter, thanks.